St. John Chrysostom on the Paralytic; Homily29 on Matthew 9

“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 on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer; your sins be forgiven you.”

By His own city here he means Capernaum. For that which gave Him birth was Bethlehem; that which brought Him up, Nazareth; that which had Him continually inhabiting it, Capernaum.

Johnchrysostom3This paralytic, however, was different from that one who is set forth in John. John 5:1 For he lay at the pool, but this at Capernaum; and that man had his infirmity thirty and eight years, but concerning this, no such thing is mentioned; and the other was in a state destitute of protectors, but this had some to take care of him, who also took him up, and carried him. And to this He says, “Son, your sins be forgiven you, “but to that He says, “Will you be made whole?” John 5:6 And the other He healed on a Sabbath day, but this not on a Sabbath, for else the Jews would have laid this also to His charge; and in the case of this man they were silent, but in that of the other they were instant in persecuting him.
And this I have said, not without purpose, lest any one should think there is a discrepancy from suspecting it to be one and the same paralytic.

But do thou, I pray you, mark the humility and meekness of our Lord. For He had also before this put away the multitudes from Him, and moreover when sent away by them at Gadara, He withstood not, but retired, not however to any great distance.

And again He entered into the ship and passed over, when He might have gone over afoot. For it was His will not to be always doing miracles, that He might not injure the doctrine of His humanity.
Now Matthew indeed says, that “they brought him,” but the others, that they also broke up the roof, and let him down. And they put the sick man before Christ, saying nothing, but committing the whole to Him. For though in the beginning He Himself went about, and did not require so much faith of them that came unto Him; yet in this case they both approached Him, and had faith required on their part. For, “Seeing,” it is said, “their faith;” that is, the faith of them that had let the man down. For He does not on all occasions require faith on the part of the sick only: as for instance, when they are insane, or in any other way, through their disease, are out of their own control. Or rather, in this case the sick man too had part in the faith; for he would not have suffered himself to be let down, unless he had believed.

Forasmuch then as they had evinced so great faith, He also evinces His own power, with all authority absolving his sins, and signifying in all ways that He is equal in honor with Him that begat Him. And mark; He implied it from the beginning, by His teaching, when He taught them as one having authority; by the leper, when He said, “I will, be thou clean,” Matthew 8:3 by the centurion, when upon his saying, “Speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed, He marvelled at him,” Matthew 8:8 and celebrated him above all men; by the sea, when He curbed it with a mere word; by the devils, when they acknowledged Him as their judge, and He cast them out with great authority.

Here again in another and a greater way He constrains His very enemies to confess His equality in honor, and by their own mouth He makes it manifest. For He, to signify His indifference to honor (for there stood a great company of spectators shutting up the entrance, wherefore also they let him down from above), did not straightway hasten to heal the visible body, but He takes His occasion from them; and He healed first that which is invisible, the soul, by forgiving his sins; which indeed saved the other, but brought no great glory to Himself. They themselves rather, troubled by their malice, and wishing to assail Him, caused even against their will what was done to be conspicuous. He, in fact, in His abundance of counsel, made use of their envy for the manifestation of the miracle.

Upon their murmuring, then, and saying, “This man blasphemes; who can forgive sins but God only?”let us see what He says. Did He indeed take away the suspicion? And yet if He were not equal, He should have said, “Why fix upon me a notion which is not convenient? I am far from this power.” But now has He said none of these things, but quite the contrary He has both affirmed and ratified, as well by His own voice, as by the performance of the miracle. Thus, it appearing that His saying certain things of Himself gave disgust to his hearers, He affirms what He had to say concerning Himself by the others; and what is truly marvelous, not by His friends only, but also by His enemies; for this is the excellency of His wisdom. By His friends on the one hand, when He said, “I will, be thou clean,” Matthew 8:3 and when He said, “I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel;” Matthew 8:10 but by His enemies, now. For because they had said, “No man can forgive sins but God only,” He subjoined,
“But that you may know that the Son of Man has power to forgive sins upon the earth (then says He to the sick of the palsy), Arise, and take up your bed, and go unto your house.”

And not here only, but also in another case again, when they were saying, “For a good work we stone you not, but for blasphemy, and because that thou, being a man, makest yourself God,” John 10:33 neither in that instance did He put down this opinion, but again confirmed it, saying, “If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not; but if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works.” John 10:37-38

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