The 1971-72 UCLA Bruins proved they were the best men’s college basketball team that season. That team lives in infamy because of the undefeated season they had and the margin of victory they imposed over their opponents. The hype was swirling and the expectations were high as they started the year. They won 29 straight games and advanced to the NCAA championship game against Florida State. If anyone questioned that they were the best, the question would be answered with an exclamation point victory in that championship game.
Now, let’s look at Jesus’s exclamation point statement about who he is in Matthew chapter 9. Matthew is writing his gospel to a primarily Jewish audience and his intention is to prove to them that Jesus is the Messiah. We can see the system of which he is doing this as we follow along starting in chapter one. Matthew uses Jesus’s genealogy, his virgin birth, the message of John the Baptist, the Sermon on the Mount, and a series of miracles, to prove that Jesus is the Messiah. This all leads up to chapter 9, and it is here we see the exclamation point that Jesus provides to prove it.
I am speaking about the well-known account where Jesus heals the paralytic of his sins. I encourage you to open your Bible to Matthew 9:1-8 and read it as you read this blog. The paralytic’s friends bring him to Jesus, and we know from the parallel account in Mark that they tore a hole in the roof to get him there. Now we would expect (from the previous miracles) that Jesus would heal the man of his paralysis, but Jesus is about to do an even greater miracle. Before we go further, we need to understand something about the way the Jews viewed sin and its correlation with sickness, disease, and paralysis. They mistakenly thought that people suffered from such things as a direct result of their personal sin. We can see proof of this in John 9:1-2 “As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, Rabbi who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered them saying, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. Not only did others think that this paralytic was suffering because of his sin, but we must conclude that he thought that as well. When Jesus sees this man, he sees his repentant heart and he looks on him with compassion. In verse 2 he says, “take heart my son; your sins are forgiven.” Jesus is healing this man of his most critical need. Regardless of his physical condition, what he needed most was spiritual healing. If Jesus would have left it there, make no mistake about it, the man’s sins would be forgiven, but Jesus wanted them all to know it. The interesting thing about it is Jesus is going to use the Jewish mistaken theology of how they equate physical sickness to personal sin to prove this man’s sins are forgiven. He tells him in verse 6 “But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins—he then said to the paralytic—Rise, pick up your bed and go home!” EXCLAMATION POINT!! This is the exclamation point that Jesus is God because only God can forgive sins. That is why many accused Jesus of blasphemy because they just couldn’t believe he was God. The last thing I want to point out is this: let’s not miss the first three words in verse 7 “And he rose.” This is absolutely the greatest miracle Jesus performs on any one of us. When we are saved from the wrath of God by the miracle Jesus provides, we will respond just like this paralytic. We will Rise! The paralytic acted out the miracle that he experienced, and every child of God will do the same. I ask you this: have you experienced this miracle in your life? Have you proved it and acted it out by rising for Gods glory?