The Gospel of Matthew
"E. Schuyler English: The Gospel According to Matthew"
The Book of MATTHEW
"And He entered into a ship, and passed over, and came into His own city. And, behold, they brought to Him a man sick of the palsy, lying in a bed; and Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy: Son, be of good cheer, thy sins be forgiven thee. And, behold, certain of the scribes said within themselves, This Man blasphemeth" (Matt. 9:1-3).
This is not the first time that our Lord healed one afflicted with palsy, but it is the first time He used this method: "Thy sins be forgiven thee." Perhaps this man's disease was the direct result of sin in his life, for our Lord said: "Son, be of good cheer." Some sin no doubt was on his conscience. This was the time that the Lord Jesus selected to show by a sign His power, not alone to heal disease, but to heal the disease of the soul. "Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee."
Certain of the scribes thought (said within themselves), "This Man blasphemeth. Who can forgive sins, but God alone?" (Luke 5:21). And the Lord Jesus, knowing the thoughts of their words, asked, "Is it easier to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise and walk? But that ye may know that the Son of Man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then saith He to the sick of the palsy) Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house. And he arose, and departed to his house. And when the multitude saw it, they marvelled, and glorified God, Who had given such power unto men."
Dispensationally, this miracle spoke of what our Lord will do for Israel when He shall return in power. Israel, sin sick and crippled, will be healed in soul and body, and they shall leap for joy and glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The healing of the palsied man is also a type of what our Lord will do for the sinner in the age of grace. By faith in His shed blood our sins are forgiven, and He at the same time gives us a new life, through which we leap for joy and glorify God. He enables us anew to "Arise, and walk."
We pass over verse nine, the call of Matthew, with only a comment concerning his immediate obedience. The Lord said to him, "Follow Me." "And he arose, and followed Him." That is all, yet is it not a beautiful example of the devotion which our Lord requires?
The Lord Jesus sat at meat in Matthew's house (see Mark 2:15) with many publicans and sinners. The publicans, of whom Matthew was one, were Jews, but the most despised class. They were tax-gatherers, in the employ of the hated Roman government, lending themselves as tools to pry the taxes from their own people, and most of them were extortionists on their own account, enriching themselves in their trade. Our Lord called one of these as a disciple, and ate with others of their number, whom the Pharisees would not touch, and with whom they would not even speak. So, instead of looking to the Lord as their King, the Pharisees found fault with Him. Our wonderful Lord came not only to forgive sin, but to welcome sinners to Himself; that is why you and I are saved if we believe on His Name. His answer silenced them: "They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. But go ye and learn what that meaneth. ... I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." Such is the marvellous grace of God: the poor, the wicked, the thieves, the sinners; they are the chosen who receive Him and are used as His instruments. Satan's men are the self-righteous, religious, and proud. It was so in our Lord's time and is so today.
The disciples of John the Baptist also came to question the Lord Jesus. Theirs was not critical interrogation, but a seeking after the truth. "Why do we and the Pharisees fast oft, but Thy disciples fast not? And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bridechamber mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them?" The King had come; no longer was it necessary to mourn, the Bridegroom was here. There follows the first revelation of the new order of things. The coming of the King, His death on the Cross, has done away with the old order. One does not put a new patch on an old garment, for a rent worse than the former takes place. One does not put new wine in old skins, for then the skins will burst. The old garment was Judaism. It was no longer good, but worthless. With the death of our Saviour, grace entered in, and the law has been cast aside.
That our Lord not only has the power to heal disease, but to give life to the dead, He proved when He raised Jairus' daughter. The horrible disease of the soul, sin, may be cleansed by His blood, if you receive Him as your Saviour. More than that, He will at the same time impart to you a new life, His life, and in Him the victory over the flesh may be yours.
He healed the sick woman, gave sight to the blind, cast out the demon from the dumb man. When we come into touch with the Lord Jesus Christ, all our weakness may be removed. Once we were blind, but now we see; once we were dumb, but now we delight in witnessing to His saving grace.
"And the multitudes marvelled, saying, It was never so seen in Israel. But the Pharisees said, He casteth out the demons through the prince of the demons."
"And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion at them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd" (Matt. 9:35, 36). "The Kingdom of the heavens is at hand" -- that was the signal; "healing every sickness" -- that was the sign. The King was present among His people, the Shepherd was calling to His flock, but they were scattered "as sheep having no shepherd." Ezekiel 34, which speaks of the future Kingdom of the Son of David, touches on the condition which our Lord found: "And they were scattered, because there was no shepherd. ... I will both search My sheep and find them out. ... I will seek that which was lost. ... I will make with them a covenant of peace."
The Lord was moved with compassion, and He said, "The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few. Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that He will send forth labourers into His harvest." There were only twelve in all Israel whom He would send forth then. There is a harvest today also, but the labourers are few. Among the last words of our risen Lord before His ascension were, "Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to the whole creation." It is the Gospel of Grace which is to be preached today to the whole creation. "The harvest truly is plenteous. ... Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that He will send forth labourers into His harvest." All signs point to His near return. May the Lord grant that many new labourers will venture forth by faith in Him that souls may be won to a knowledge of His saving grace before it is too late.