Small Group Discussion week 23

The Gospel of Matthew
Week 23 – Authority to Forgive

Last week we studied the story of the demon-possessed men in the country of the Gadarenes. One of the things that made this story unusual is the contrast between the demons’ reaction to Jesus’ authority and the townspeople’s reaction. Ironically, the demons showed that they respected Jesus’ authority (because they
obeyed Him), while the townspeople ultimately rejected it (by begging Him to leave). We have the same two choices today...we can either accept His authority (and obey Him) or we can reject it (and continue to live however we please).

This week we turn our attention to one more way that Matthew presents Jesus’ incredible authority.(He has already shown His authority over disease, what is required of His disciples, nature, and demons.) In this case, we are shown that He also has the authority to forgive sins...just like God! For anyone who witnessed this
event, it would have created a severe crisis (of the same kind that Matthew has been showing us all along): who is this man?

Opening Questions:
• What is your understanding of forgiveness? What is it and how does it work? In what ways (if any) does our
culture’s understanding and practice of forgiveness differ from what is taught in the Bible?
• When was the last time you truly glorified God about something? Share the story, including how you glorified
Him. What impact has it had on you? What impact (if any) did it have on others?

Matthew 9:1-8

Discipleship Questions:
• Why do you think Jesus heals the paralytic man? What is the relationship between a person’s faith/belief and
Jesus healing him/her? In this case, the faith mentioned is not the paralytic’s faith, but the faith of the ones
who brought him to Jesus. What do you learn from this that you could apply in your own life?
• Jesus tells the man, “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.” What does this imply about what caused
the man’s paralysis? Assuming the people present were also aware of what caused this man’s condition,
besides physical healing, in what other ways would this man be restored/made healthy? What impact would
his healing have on the community? In what ways has living in community affected you?
• What are some possible explanations for how Jesus knew the scribes’ thoughts? What do you believe
personally, and why? Although we can’t mimic His omniscience, if He knew their thoughts some other way,
what might this mean for your interactions with others, especially with someone that is skeptical of Christian
• What does it mean about Jesus’ identity that He had the authority to forgive this man’s sin? How does He go
about proving that He actually does have this authority? Since Jesus has the authority to forgive sins, what
does this mean to someone whose sins He has forgiven? How would you apply this reality to encourage
someone who tends to “beat themselves up” over his/her sins?
• In all fairness, the scribes were suddenly confronted with a worldview-shattering crisis of belief, i.e., if only
God can forgive someone’s sins (so that the person is healed physically) then who is this person before me?
When have you had a crisis of belief about God? What happened? How did it turn out? What did you learn?
• Over the past few weeks, we have looked at Jesus’ authority from a variety of angles. What has been the
most meaningful to you and why? In what ways has it affected how you think, live, and glorify Him?

Prayer time:
Pray that, in love, we will continue to surrender to God’s authority over us. Also pray for anyone in
the group who is struggling with receiving/believing God’s forgiveness for his/her sins.