Aware that there was a crowd watching, Jesus had told the paralytic, “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.” Jesus then heals him to demonstrate His authority to forgive sin. Matthew notes the crowd’s reaction, “When the crowd saw this, they were filled with awe; and they praised God, who had given such authority to men.”
It is one thing to tell someone that God forgives them, it is quite another to speak on behalf of God in telling someone that God forgives them. Of course, Jesus can do that because Jesus is God the Son. Knowing the Father as He did, Jesus knew that the Father does not turn away the repentant. Those who seek God wholeheartedly are never turned away. The words of the prophet were to be always true, “If you seek him, he will be found by you.” So it was quite natural for Him to forgive the man who had interrupted his teaching by being lowered down before Him on a mat through a hole in the roof. He saw their faith, He knew the man’s sin and He had authority to forgive sins, and He acted accordingly.
Then as now, few are those who know God well enough to speak and act with God’s authority by God’s prompting. In fact, to this point in the Scriptural record, we see only a small number of individuals who do that – prophets and others specifically anointed by the Spirit of God. Yet from Jesus’ time forward, knowing God well enough to hear His prompting and then speak and act with God’s authority was not supposed to remain the exclusive domain of the prophets.
All of Israel was supposed to know God and follow His leading, so that all nations could know the Lord. God wanted His people to do His work, and Jesus demonstrates what it means to work with God’s authority.
Thankfully, Jesus gives this very same authority to all who know Him and serve Him faithfully, and so boldly commissioned us, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go….” The effect of that commission is that we are to minister not with our own authority, but with Christ’s authority. An authority that not only forgives sin, but releases the Father’s power to work in the lives of others.
Those who act accordingly know that whenever we lead someone to a fresh relationship with God, they are forgiven and spiritually made well. Occasionally they are even physically restored, so that others who look on and hear might know that God is real, that Christ is Lord and that He is still working with power in our world. This is the work of God. This is supposed to be the normative work of all of God’s people, whenever we encounter someone who is seeking God with all their heart.
And the effect of the work of God always has this result. People become free of the world and focus on Him. Even onlookers do what they were created to do: “When the crowd saw this, they were filled with awe; and they praised God, who had given such authority to men.” People praise God, being full with wonder and awe at His majesty!
The question the average Christian then must ask is not, “Could I participate in such things?” or even “Are there any who want this?” for the fields are white unto harvest. The question to be asked is, “Will I dare to act according to the authority Christ gives me to do His work?”
Some one has said that “to ask in Christ’s name is to ask with Christ’s authority for what He would ask”. We are not likely to arrive at a better definition than that.James Hastings
Read the last question of today’s devotion again. Will you?