1 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, “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. (Matthew 9:1-8 ESV)
It’s not just me and God.
It’s not just you and God.
It’s us and God.
The paralytic here is brought to Jesus by “some people,” some unnamed friends or neighbors is merely folks who have heard about Jesus and said, “We know someone who can make you well!” They carried the man, these unnamed “some people,” whatever awkward distance was needed to get to Jesus.
Jesus saw their faith. Their faith. The faith of the unnamed people carrying the unnamed paralytic. Together, they all had an inchoate hope in the power of Jesus to heal. Whether they expected forgiveness or not, I don’t know. But because of their faith, Jesus tells the paralytic to take heart, his sins are forgiven.
We are supposed to be a community called to follow God, not isolated individuals, not atomized and alone in the face of God. Sometimes we carry others, sometimes we are carried, to meet a God who can both forgive our sins and command us to walk simply because we — we together — hope.
We hope not for things for ourselves, not for wealth or power, but for daily bread, for the lame in our midst to walk, the possessed in our midst to be free, the blind in our midst to see, and for those who have been cut off from us — or have cut themselves off, possibly on purpose — to belong again.
Jesus commands the man to walk, and he is healed. He gets up and walks. And the crowd is afraid, because God had given such authority to men — τοῖς ἀνθρώποις. Plural. What authority is this? The power to forgive, to heal and command the lame to rise?
Or is it the power to hope for others, to have a faith that is bigger than our individual selves?
Because we are not alone. We hope together. We yearn together. We have faith together. We confess our sins together, seek repentance together, and hope for our redemption. Together.