Did Jesus Really Do Miracles?
Jesus stepped into a boat, crossed over and came to his own town. Some men brought to him a paralyzed man, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the man, “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.”
At this, some of the teachers of the law said to themselves, “This fellow is blaspheming!”
Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said, “Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts? Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the paralyzed man, “Get up, take your mat and go home.” Then the man got up and went home. When the crowd saw this, they were filled with awe; and they praised God, who had given such authority to man.
Matthew 9:1-8 (NIV)
Today we are looking at just one of the retellings of Jesus’ miracles that Matthew clumps together in his gospel. To give a quick summary, a paralysed man comes to Jesus asking to be healed. Jesus sees this, but also sees this man’s greater need; to be healed of his sins so that he can be in relationship with God. Jesus therefore heals his sins. But Jesus realises that those looking on, including the Pharisees, would not believe the claim that Jesus is making by healing this man’s sins – ie if he says he has the power to heal sins, he is claiming to be God himself. The onlookers realise how big of a deal it is for Jesus’ to say he has healed his sins. And so, Jesus also heals the man’s paralysis so that those watching will see that Jesus has the power and authority to prove He is God and can heal sins.
Barney’s is currently working through a sermon series on Exodus. And at the start of the series, our minister, Mike, challenged the church to remember and think about the fact that the wondrous and incredible stories of the Old Testament, including those in Exodus, were real historical events and are actually part of our history as God’s people. This same challenge has really hit me as we look very briefly into the ‘miracles’ part of Matthew’s Gospel.
Because I think we are far to quick to change the lens with which we read about Jesus’ miracles. I think we read them as if they are more like bedtime stories, when we know, that just like the stories of the Old Testament, Jesus actually did perform these miracles as a living, breathing man around 2000 years ago. In contrast, I think we as christians treat Jesus’ forgiveness of our sins with too much normalcy, too much mundaneness and same-old same-old. Maybe our lack of Jewish heritage, experience of the Old Covenant and anticipation of a conquering King means that we are less amazed by Jesus’ claims to be the Son of God with the power to forgive sins and would find it more miraculous if Jesus were to heal a paralysed man in front of us.
I think we are different to the people who witnessed this miracle. Whereas they needed to see the paralysed man walk so that they could believe that Jesus could more miraculously forgive sins, we become complacent about the fact that the Son of God wants to be in a relationship with us and heal our sins, and instead would love to see ‘miracles’ performed for us. This is a dangerous view to have and we need to continue to remind each other of just how incredible it is that Jesus came to Earth, fully God and fully man, in order that He might heal all of our sins eternally and place us into a relationship with God. That is truly miraculous.
Could the miracles of the bible actually have been performed? Why or why not?
Do you think that you see the healing of sins as even more miraculous?