Now in the narrative of the paralytic a number of people are brought forward for healing. Jesus’ words of healing are worthy of reflection. The paralytic is not told, “Be healed.” He is not told, “Rise and walk.” But he is told, “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven you.” The paralytic is a descendent of the original man, Adam. In one person, Christ, all the sins of Adam are forgiven. In this case the person to be healed is brought forward by ministering angels. In this case, too, he is called a son, because he is God’s first work. The sins of his soul are forgiven him, and pardon of the first transgression is granted. We do not believe the paralytic committed any sin [that resulted in his illness], especially since the Lord said elsewhere that blindness from birth had not been contracted from someone’s sin or that of his parents. …

Furthermore, so it could be understood that he was in a body and that he could forgive sins and restore health to bodies, Jesus said, “That you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins,” then he said to the paralytic, “Arise, take up your pallet and go home.” First he granted remission of sins; next he showed his ability to restore health. Then, with the taking up of the pallet, he made it clear that bodies would be free from infirmity and suffering; lastly, with the paralytic’s return to his home he showed that believers are being given back the way to paradise from which Adam, the parent of all, who became profligate from the stain of sin, had preceded.

 Hilary of Poitiers in Manlio Simonetti (ed), Matthew 1-13 (Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture), (InterVarsity Press, 2001) 174, 175.

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