He entered a boat, made the crossing, and came into his own town. And there people brought to him a paralytic lying on a stretcher. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "Courage, child, your sins are forgiven." At that, some of the scribes said to themselves, "This man is blaspheming." Jesus knew what they were thinking, and said, "Why do you harbor evil thoughts? Which is easier, to say, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Rise and walk'? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins"– he then said to the paralytic, "Rise, pick up your stretcher, and go home." He rose and went home. When the crowds saw this they were struck with awe and glorified God who had given such authority to human beings. (Mt 9:1-8)
The three important words in this passage seem to be authority, faith, and forgiveness. I wonder how the scribes understood the word authority. It is true that the people of authority exert power. And the people who have power use force and at times it ends up as violence. But the authority of Jesus seems to be of a different kind. His authority is seen in his teaching and preaching and healing and over nature (wind and waves). In this story he has authority to forgive sins. Jesus’ authority seems to be for love, freedom and forgiveness.
Faith here means faith in his authority. It is not the faith of the sick that has done the miracle but the faith of those who carried him. It is the faith that reveals that Jesus is able to do something about it because he is a man of authority. Again the authority is with Jesus because he is the Son of God. Authority is a divine authority.
Main issue in this story is that Jesus is able to forgive sins. Forgiveness is not the point of reference in all the healing miracles. Here in this story forgiveness is the issue for dispute. Probably Jesus knew that the sick person needed internal healing and his internal sickness (guilt feelings etc) could have been the cause of his physical sickness. So Jesus heals his internal sickness which in turn heals the person physically as well. Forgiveness was needed to heal the person and Jesus forgave him because he was the Son of God.
When he came to the other side, to the territory of the Gadarenes, two demoniacs who were coming from the tombs met him. They were so savage that no one could travel by that road. They cried out, "What have you to do with us, Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the appointed time?" Some distance away a herd of many swine was feeding. The demons pleaded with him, "If you drive us out, send us into the herd of swine." And he said to them, "Go then!" They came out and entered the swine, and the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea where they drowned. The swineherds ran away, and when they came to the town they reported everything, including what had happened to the demoniacs. Thereupon the whole town came out to meet Jesus, and when they saw him they begged him to leave their district. (Mt 8:28-34)
Jesus is in a gentile territory. There are two demons, here in Matthew’s gospel. And they recognize Jesus as the Messiah (Son of God). They were so terrible that no one could travel by the road. It looks that they had a time frame for their activities. All the above statements tend to show that Jesus confronted the evil force. Evil force was destructive and it had its time bound activity. Jesus challenges this evil force and ends its activity before time. So Jesus arrival is to end the activity of evil force before time.
Through this story the author is saying that Jesus not only had authority to preach, teach, heal the sick (be it close at hand or at a distance), over the wind and waves, but also he had authority over evil forces. Jesus was not just a good man who did a lot of good to the others or he was not just a good preacher or a guide who helped people to build up relationship but he was someone with authority. He had authority over physical and non-physical world.
Wherever Jesus went the people asked him to stay with them, but here they asked him to depart. The people were afraid of him. Were they afraid because the lost the herd of pigs? We do not know. But certainly they did not recognize him to be the messiah. But the demon possessed men acknowledged him to be the messiah and also recognized the ministry of the Son of God. So Jesus was a force to be reckoned with.