“And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, ‘Why are you thinking evil in your hearts? Which is easier, to say, “Your sins are forgiven,” or to say, “Get up, and walk”? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins . . .’” (Matthew 9:4–6).
Because He is the Son of God, Jesus “did not need anyone to testify concerning man, for He Himself knew what was in man” (John 2:25). Christ knows all about every sin, even the unseen ones (cf. 1 Sam. 16:7; 1 Chron. 28:9), and stands firmly against them. Before God punished Ananias and Sapphira for their deception, He asked them through Peter, “Why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit?” (Acts 5:3).
Similarly, in this situation, Jesus knew what His enemies were thinking and was ready to expose the evil behind their thoughts and the error of their logic regarding authority to forgive. Because sin and its symptoms are inseparable, Jesus would have to deal with sin or else He could not deal with the effects.
The Jewish leaders had no good reply or sound argument against Jesus and His divine capabilities. However, it was and is obvious: our Lord can deal with both sin and its consequences, and human beings can do neither. Only God can heal disease with a few words and forgive sins with another few words.
Christ’s response to His opponents here came down to the old adage, “Actions speak louder than words.” In other words, saying something that cannot be verified is always easier than doing something that can be. Jesus’ foes could not verify the paralytic’s forgiveness, but they were about to see proof of his healing, which forces any reasonable person to concede that Jesus does deal with sin and its effects.
Jesus knows our thoughts. As people redeemed from eternal punishment and freed to walk in abundant life, we need not fear this as a source of constant guilt. But how can we use this knowledge to discipline our hearts and purify our motives?
From Daily Readings from the Life of Christ, Vol. 1, John MacArthur. Copyright © 2008. Used by permission of Moody Publishers, Chicago, IL 60610