July 8, 2018

Gospel Commentary for the Sixth Sunday of Matthew (St. Theophylact of Ochrid)

Sixth Sunday of Matthew
Healing of the Paralytic in Capernaum

Matthew 9:1-8

From The Explanation of the Gospel of St. Matthew

By Blessed Theophylact, Archbishop of Ochrid and Bulgaria

1-2. And He entered into a boat, and passed over, and came into His own city. And, behold, they brought to Him a paralytic, lying on a bed. 

"His own city" means Capernaum, for it was there that He was living. He was born in Bethlehem, raised in Nazareth, and lived for an extended length of time in Capernaum. This paralytic is not the same as the one mentioned in John [5:2-9], for that one was beside the Sheep's Pool in Jerusalem, while this one was in Capernaum. And that one had no one to help him, while this one was carried by four men, as Mark says [Mk. 2:3-12], who lowered him through the roof, a fact which fact Matthew omits.

And Jesus seeing their faith. 

Either the faith of the men who brought the paralytic, for Jesus often worked a miracle on account of the faith of those who brought the one sick; or, of the paralytic himself. 

Said to the paralytic, "Take courage, child; thy sins be forgiven thee."

Jesus calls him "child," either as one of God's creatures, or because he believed. To show that the man's paralysis is a result of his sins, Jesus first forgives him his sins.

3-5. And, behold, certain of the scribes said within themselves, "This man blasphemeth." And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, "Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts? For which is easier to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and walk?

By knowing their thoughts, Jesus shows that He is God. He rebukes them by saying, "You think that I am blaspheming by promising to forgive sins, which is a great thing, and that I resort to this because it is something which can not be verified. But by healing the body, I shall guarantee that the soul has been healed as well. By doing the lesser deed, though it appears to be more difficult, I shall also confirm the remission of sins, which is indeed something great even though it appears easier to you since it is not visible to the eye."

6-8. But that ye may know that the Son of Man hath power on earth to forgive sins," then saith He to the paralytic, "Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house." And he arose, and departed to his house. But when the multitudes saw it, they marvelled, and glorified God Who had given such power unto men. 

Jesus commanded him to carry his bed so that the event would not appear to have been imaginary, and also, so that the multitudes would see the miracle. For they thought that Jesus”Who is greater than all was only a man.