And, behold, men brought in a bed a man which was taken with a palsy: and they sought means to bring him in, and to lay him before him.…
The first thing which He did was not the thing which He was expected by men to do. His first word seemed remote from the thing needing then and there to be done. The friends of that palsied man expected the famed Miracle-Worker to heal him; and instead, Jesus said only, "Man, thy sins are forgiven thee." That was not the first nor the last time that ecclesiastical logic has drawn a correct circle of reasoning by which the living truth has been shut out. Jesus stood for the moment looking upon the disappointed faces of His friends, and meeting the cruel eyes of His enemies. He knew that His word of Divine forgiveness, which seemed remote from the very present need of that palsied man, and which to the Pharisees was idle as a breath of air, was nevertheless the force of forces for the healing of the world. He knew how to begin His work among men, before any form of suffering, with a word which should bring down to the soul of man's need the power of the heart of God. The multitude looked on and saw the momentary failure, as it seemed, of the Christ of God. "But Jesus, perceiving their reasonings," &c. "Whether is easier?" &c. Which is the greater force, the love of God forgiving sin, or the miracle of healing? Jesus began with the greatest work. The miracle, as it seemed to the people, was not the greater work which Jesus knew He was sent to accomplish. The physical miracle followed easily upon the diviner power of God's love which Jesus was conscious of possessing and exercising over the might of evil, when He said, "Man, thy sins are forgiven thee." The people, when they saw the lesser work done, not comprehending the power of God then and there present upon the earth, and working first the greater work of the forgiveness of sin, were amazed and filled with fear, and said, "We have seen strange things to-day." And this opinion of the people must be our opinion of these miracles if we do not know Jesus any better than those doctors of the law at Capernaum had learned Christ. But as in that case soon appeared, Jesus Christ was right in the way He chose to begin His work, and the people were all wrong. He did the harder thing first, and the easier thing next. And the method of the Church, following Christ's, is profoundly right. It is practically true, The gospel of Divine forgiveness we must put first; our benevolcnces second. Sin is first to be mastered; then suffering is more easily healed.
( Newman Smyth, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And, behold, men brought in a bed a man which was taken with a palsy: and they sought means to bring him in, and to lay him before him.