Matthew 9:1-8; Mark 2:1-12; Luke 5:17-26
Forgiveness Is Healing
Today’s passage is truly one of my favorites. There is so much in it, but I have entitled it, “Forgiveness Is Healing,” and in a moment, we shall see why. First, we see that Jesus’ popularity is growing. Luke records that people came from every village of Galilee, Judea, and even Jerusalem. Also in attendance were the Pharisees and the “teachers of the law.” So Jesus had now attracted the attention of the Jewish leaders. At any rate, there were so many at the house where Jesus was staying that the place was packed out; there was not even room at the door. And the whole time, Jesus “was preaching the word to them.” Remember, it was to preach the good news about the kingdom of God that he came (Luke 4:43).
Well, it seems that there were four men who couldn’t get through the crowd, but who were not going to be denied. They had a friend, a “paralytic,” whom they were determined to bring to Jesus. Unable to get through the door, they mounted the roof (easy to do in those days), made an opening through it, and lowered their poor friend below to Jesus. Then it says, “And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven.’”
Now this is important. Jesus did not first say, “Rise, take up your bed and walk.” Instead, Jesus pronounced the word of forgiveness over the man. The scribes and religious leaders who were there immediately thought that Jesus was blaspheming; after all, who can forgive sins but God alone? Yes, we can forgive the sins of one another, but only God can pronounce forgiveness over a sinner for his sins. In this, the scribes were correct. But back to my main point. When Jesus perceived their thoughts (“for he himself knew what was in man, John 2:25), he asked them, “Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk?’” In this wonderful statement, Jesus proclaims that forgiveness is healing and healing is forgiveness. And do we not know that to be the case? When we are forgiven, isn’t there a relief, a refreshment, a healing in our spirit? And when we are healed, and raised up from some infirmity, is there not a sense of cleansing in our souls?
Back to the scribes, they were right – only God can forgive sins. And so Jesus answered, “But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins….” Yes, only God can forgive sins; Jesus agreed. So we worship him, Immanuel, God with us.