Scripture Union taught me the discipline of daily Bible reading..."John Stott,
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
First we have the heart-warming story of the paralytic and his four friends with their stop-at-nothing faith which ends with him marching off carrying his bed. In the middle of this comes the story of the grumpy scribes who need to learn that Jesus has authority to forgive sins without recourse to the elaborate requirements of the temple cult. The two stories come together in Jesus’ teasing question, “Which is easier…”? The answer surely is “neither.” Both are equally easy to say and, in fact, they are two ways of saying the same thing. As fallen human beings we are subject to both sin and death, and Jesus has come to set us free from both.
Like Jesus’ other mighty works, the healing of the paralyzed man shows that through him there is forgiveness of sins. Today we have this assurance not merely because of the healing miracles but especially because of the greatest miracle of all: the resurrection of Jesus himself. The miracles may be seen as a foretaste of the resurrection, and the resurrection of Jesus as a pointer to the resurrection of all God’s people. The Church is now sent by the risen Christ to offer the forgiveness of sins in his name. The forgiveness of sins carries with it a promise that we shall, in God’s good time, participate in the resurrection of all God’s people, when death will be no more and all sickness and pain will be done away with (Rev. 21:4).
Stop-at-nothing faith is still occasionally rewarded with miracles of healing. The Church’s task is not to promise miracles but to declare that the Son of Man still has authority on earth to forgive sins, with the promise that those whom he justifies he will also glorify (Rom. 8:30).