Matthew 8:28–9:8 (NKJV, also appearing in Mark 5:1-20, 2:1-12; Luke 8:26-39, 5:17-26)
Demons Cast Out
28 When He had come to the other side, to the country of the Gergesenes, there met Him two demon-possessed men, coming out of the tombs, exceedingly fierce, so that no one could pass that way. 29 And suddenly they cried out, saying, “What have we to do with You, Jesus, You Son of God? Have You come here to torment us before the time?”
30 Now a good way off from them there was a herd of many swine feeding. 31 So the demons begged Him, saying, “If You cast us out, permit us to go away into the herd of swine.”
32 And He said to them, “Go.” So when they had come out, they went into the herd of swine. And suddenly the whole herd of swine ran violently down the steep place into the sea, and perished in the water.
33 Then those who kept them fled; and they went away into the city and told everything, including what had happened to the demon-possessed men. 34 And behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus. And when they saw Him, they begged Him to depart from their region.
In this story, Jesus is confronted by demon-possessed men who beg Him for some level of mercy. They begged to be sent into a herd of swine, rather than into nothingness. Jesus consented, and the porcine creatures ran into the sea and died, not bearing the demonic possession. The pig-herders ran away in fear, telling everyone, and the city asked Jesus to leave. When Jesus does the supernatural, they did not know how to handle it. How often does God speak to us or bring about a miracle, and we do not know how to handle it? How often do we not even recognize God’s hand at work? Think about where the good things in life come from and praise the Lord!
Sins Forgiven, Paralysis Healed
9:1 So He got into a boat, crossed over, and came to His own city. 2 Then behold, they brought to Him a paralytic lying on a bed. When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you.”
3 And at once some of the scribes said within themselves, “This Man blasphemes!”
4 But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts? 5 For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise and walk’? 6 But 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 bed, and go to your house.” 7 And he arose and departed to his house.
8 Now when the multitudes saw it, they marveled and glorified God, who had given such power to men.
In this story of Jesus’ miraculous ministry, He forgives the sins of a paralytic. While this was certainly His purview, the religious officials at the event considered it blasphemy. Their ignorance was not acceptable, and Jesus scolded them, and then spoke the word of healing as well. He was complete, not wanting to just heal a body, but to also heal a soul. Forgiveness was the priority, not healing the paralysis. God longs to do both for us, but salvation and forgiveness trump healing any day. An eternal life beyond this one is a greater gift than a good body in this short life on earth. Do not question God, receive God. Do not call Jesus a blasphemer, but rather call Him Lord!