Sermon Notes


  • The Word of the Lord:Matthew 9:1-8,And getting into a boat he crossed over and came to his own city. 2 And behold, some people brought to him a paralytic, lying on a bed. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.”
    3 And behold, some of the scribes said to themselves, a“This man is blaspheming.” 4 But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts?
    5 For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’?
    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.” 7 And he rose and went home. 8 When the crowds saw it, they were afraid, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to men.
  • I want to draw your attention this morning to a very important topic. You see beloved, there is a profound lesson in this passage that we need to learn as Christians, and it is a lesson that is incredibly lacking in our times.
  • But before we jump into that, do you see how rich a passage this is? This is a passage that is so dense in its theological content, that there is more truth per square inch here than the casual eye often recognises. One could preach a sermon from every line of it.In it, we see the amazing display of faith. We see the reward of amazing faith. In it, we see sin and its consequences, but also the consolation and forgiveness that Jesus offers the sinner. In it, we see the authority and omniscience of Christ and the healing He brings.
    There is faith, hope, love, friendship, healing, glory and so many things that we can reap from the theological roots of this passage. And yet, the Spirit draws me today to one of the most, if not the most, crucial point of this passage. That we in all our piety, and in all our doctrinal convictions, and in all our traditions or independence, may still deny the glorious works of Christ.
  • Every Christian attending this service, along with every other Christian out there, are all doctrinal Christians. The word ‘doctrine’ simply means ‘teaching, and I for one, consider myself a man on a mission to remind the world that doctrine is therefore not a bad word, and being doctrinal is not a sinful thing.
  • But the more pressing question to those of us in this setting is if our convictions are a means to greater communion with God, or are they stumbling blocks standing in the way of our spiritual growth.
    • Calvinism is a stumbling block for many, who love to feel the intellectual ecstasy of it, but really have very little in the way of actually living like a Calvinist.
    • A lot of people like to call themselves ‘independent’ or ‘new age’ as opposed to ‘traditional’ because they find the latter outdated. But in doing so they do not conform more to the word, instead, they conform more to the world.
    • Many others want nothing to do with the new ways and prefer to be tagged ‘traditional’, that they become obstinate in the traditions of men which again is not conformity to the word, but conformity to the world of the past.


  • So what I intend to do now, is to go through this passage and point you to all those delightful truths it contains, and how the Pharisees and scribes (these men of the word, scholars, teachers, and pastors of their time) couldn’t understand any of it. In fact, Luke when recounting this same story sets the stage by saying,
    Luke 5:17On one of those days, as he was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there, who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was with him to heal.
Therefore, one of the central focuses of this text is to show how the so-called pious and biblical elite of Jesus’ time rejected His message and works. God came down to them and they who prided themselves on knowing God could hardly recognise Him.
  • v1And getting into a boat he crossed over and came to his own city.
    • Unlike Luke, Matthew is not trying to write a chronological narrative, and therefore we do not know for sure the time between the previous miracle (of the demoniacs) and this crossing over in the boat.
    • To his own city as it is referred here is talking about Capernaum which was really Jesus’ base of ministry operations in Galilee. It is believed that Jesus stayed with Peter, and therefore, the events of this miracle were probably happening in his house.
  • v2(a) – 2 And behold, some people brought to him a paralytic, lying on a bed.
    • Mark 2:3-43 And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. 4 And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him, and when they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay.
    • Here we have the display of profound faith. 

      Unlike Job’s three friends who were a burden and sorrow to him, here are friends that every man desires – friends whose mission is to carry us and lay us at the foot of Jesus. In some strange way, these three men teach us how friendship must be enjoyed among Christians. Would we labor like these men did, to pursue one another and burden ourselves with carrying one another to the feet of the Master? We can’t even find time to consistently pray for one another, let alone climb to the roof and make an opening to lower him into the house. They were men on a mission, and they were going to get past every obstacle in their way for the sake of their friend.
    • This paralytic man was confined to his bed and couldn’t move limb or bone. He couldn’t carry himself to Jesus, and so his friends did for him what he could not do for himself. They could not get near him, so they improvised. 
 [contrast their faith to the scribes]
  • v2(b) – And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.”
    •  Their faith could be seen. And the reward of Jesus’ healing came in response to such a display of faith.
      You see beloved, in Matthew, Mark, and Luke, we find that these men and that paralytic do not utter a single word. Now, one reason for this might be that they actually did speak but the Gospel writers were more focussed on the exchange between Jesus and the scribes. But I think it is more than that because the Pharisees and scribes themselves didn’t address Jesus verbally, but mumbled amongst themselves.When Jesus saw their faith – that is such a key phrase. Beloved, Jesus sees it all. On one end, He saw the faith of four common men, and on the other end, He saw the faithlessness of the so-called spiritual elite. This passage isn’t about what men said, but what men displayed, and what they displayed was clearly seen by the King of heaven. Oftentimes, we feel justified before God because of our doctrinal convictions. So we stand before Him boldly wearing our doctrinal badges with pride as if to offer our seal of approval for what is true, but God in all of that sees our hearts and our actions that are yet far from faithful. You see, it was the Pharisees and scribes that ought to have led the charge in bringing this paralytic to Jesus.

      • Many of us, including me, are at times taken up by the caricature of certain people groups. Oftentimes, there is a contempt we have toward Pentecostals, and a lot of that has to do with the conduct of many Pentecostals. I once had a Hindu friend who told me that he highly reveres Christians, except the Pentecostals. And so, a lot of us would disagree with them on many fronts and stand before God somewhat justified in our beliefs. But beloved, it does not matter how much more you know, when you could be the one praying and thanking the Lord that you are not like that pentecostal person over there, while that pentecostal person sits in the outer courts beating his chest and crying out for God’s mercy.
      • Do we think that we are justified by our doctrinal finesse? That we have inherited eternal life because we have by-hearted the doctrines of grace? No, we are not justified by any quality in us. We are justified in Christ by His quality alone. The only thing we have contributed to our salvation is the sin that made it necessary.
      • The hearts of these men were therefore laid bare before the Lord as He watched their actions
    • “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.”
      • Jesus not only saw the hearts of the four men and of the Pharisees and scribes but also of the paralytic laid before Him.
      • In all of the previous encounters, Jesus spoke with the people who came to Him for healing but in this case, we do not hear of the paralytic speaking at all. Now, it could be that this man could not speak because of his condition, or maybe he was just taken up by the events of that day.
      • Take heart is a phrase here that means ‘do not be afraid
 my son is a phrase of endearment.
    • Your sins are forgiven
      Oh, brothers and sisters, there is so much that can be said about this statement.
      You see, the predominant view in Jesus’ time was that all sickness and disease are a direct result of a person’s sin or the sin of his ancestors. Therefore, people like the Pharisees and scribes did not want to have anything to do with the paralytic. Now, when Jesus says your sins are forgiven, it could be because this man’s predicament was a direct result of his sins. This man himself probably believed his suffering to be a cause of his sins.
      Nevertheless, whether it was his direct fault or not, one thing that we can know for sure is that all sickness and disease in this world has a direct link to the corrupted condition of this world ever since sin was introduced into it by disobedience of man. And Jesus shows us that the more imminent need for this man is not the healing of his body, but the rescue of his soul. But here again, watch as the rescue of this man’s soul also heals his body.
  • v3 – And behold, some of the scribes said to themselves, “This man is blaspheming.”
    •  Mark 2:6-7Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, “Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?”
    • Now Jesus had just made a profound statement that has been the longing of the Jewish people for centuries – for God to forgive them and restore them.
 Right before them stood the Messiah, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, the Son of God who came from the right hand of God, God Himself in flesh. And in His divine authority, He looked at the utter vileness of sin in us and its consequences, and said to us, “Take heart, my son. Your sins are forgiven”.The glory of glories was unfolding before their eyes, and they screamed in their hearts, blasphemy!
    • Now, they didn’t get it all wrong, for surely they knew that God could forgive and that only He could forgive. But their sin was that they could not recognise their God who stood before them. Such is the theology and doctrinal convictions of many Christians, maybe even some of us in this room. We proudly believe all that we believe but if our belief stood before us in flesh and blood, we would not recognise Him.
  •  v4 – But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts?
    • The omniscient savior knew the hearts of men and could discern their thoughts.
    • ‘Evil in your hearts’ – that’s what Jesus called this kind of doctrinal shallowness. It is not genuine mistakenness that veils us to God’s glory but sin.
  • v5 –  For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’?
    •  Surely it is easier to say your sins are forgiven since there really isn’t any evidence of it.
  • v6 –  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.” 7 And he rose and went home.
    • So Jesus takes their disbelief head-on and in order to prove His authority on earth, He heals the paralytic.
  • v8 – When the crowds saw it, they were afraid, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to men.
    • We see what Paul is trying to show us here with this series of Miracles
      • The people on seeing all this were either amazed, astonished, or afraid. But NEVER repentant.
      • You don’t see the Pharisee at the end of this, go down on their knees and go, “Lord, our savior, forgive me for I have mistaken you”.
    • The crowds were astonished yet again but not with astonishment that understood the profound reality of what had just happened. They did not realise who Jesus was.



  • How is it that men who spend so much time learning, meditating on the Word of the Lord, who take much pride in their knowledge of God and spend time praying to him – not know that God came before them?
    • The crowds that gathered around him to listen to him preach, the perfect words that came from him as he preached, the miraculous healings that he performed; all of which the Pharisees saw and yet it was not enough for them to go “surely, this must be the Messiah”.
    • What got in the way for the Pharisees and the scribes? Why could they not see it?
      • It was not doctrine brothers and sisters, it was sin.
  • The solution, therefore, is not to throw doctrine away, for the denial of which is the denial of God’s word.
    •  For doctrine is only the means to the end of knowing God and bearing the fruit of the spirit. But there is such a thing, as doctrine getting in the way. It gets in the way not because of the doctrine, because of the sin of the flesh.
    • The only hope for us in this situation is prayer. So whatever be the doctrinal conviction we hold, only the Holy Spirit can teach us. Therefore, we must go to the feet of mercy and say “Lord, teach us and help us that we may always know that we stand upon grace as sinners, that we may treat one another with love and desire to build one another.”
  • The encouragement that we must take from this is that no matter what be the level of doctrinal convictions we hold, what we are saved by, is Jesus and his merit. 
    • Therefore let all our doctrinal convictions and pursuits be translated to prayer so that the Holy Spirit may give us appropriate leanings in all our beliefs that if the power of God worked before us, may we not be like the Pharisees who loved their doctrine above God, may we not be a people who stand in condemnation toward it but may we be a people who will rejoice in what he does. May we be a people who love God above all.