Jesus returned to Capernaum because the townspeople in Gadarenes asked him to leave. The paralyzed man was brought to Jesus in faith, by those who cared about him. Jesus approached the issue of the man’s sin first, before healing the body. This is the first time we see Jesus forgiving someone. Matthew wants us to know that things were progressing. It is a shift in his ministry, and a shift in attitude toward Jesus. The scribes correctly acknowledged only God could forgive sins, but failed to make the connection between Jesus and God. The scribes did not voice this openly, Jesus knew what they were thinking. He responded with a question. He asked why they thought evil thoughts because there was a choice in the matter. The thoughts were evil, because they discounted the work of God. The scribes were taking an issue with the authority of Jesus. Jesus called himself the Son of Man, and said he would prove his authority. It was easy for anyone to say the words of forgiveness because there was no way to “test” its result. There was an obvious measure as to whether or not a man was healed by someone’s words, so the scribes would see that task as being more “difficult”. Both tasks were impossible for man, both tasks were easy for God. Jesus commanded the man Get up, pick up his mat, and go home. All three of these things displayed the man’s renewed health. There could be no doubt that the man was healed. It proved the authority of Jesus, which the crowd marveled at and praised God for.
As remarkable as the healing was, the greater miracle was that of forgiveness. As terrible as afflictions of the body are, to be separate from God is far worse. Jesus is our redeemer, and forgives those who come to him. There can be no question of the forgiving grace or healing power of Jesus. This is a witness to the divinity of Jesus. If we doubt his authority, or reduce his status to a mere “philosopher” or “teacher” as some in this modern age do, then we are no better than the scribes, whose thoughts Jesus called evil. We must submit to who Jesus truly is, and praise God.