Lukeby Mike Raiter
In my daily prayers, I thank God for my health: physical, emotional, and spiritual. Good health is a blessing from God, and thankfully, in much of the world, people are living longer and staying healthier. Sadly, our world’s report card on moral and spiritual health is far less impressive. Today, we see again Jesus’ ministry to the whole person.
Jesus is continuing His ministry in and around Capernaum. Four men have a friend, or perhaps a relative, who is paralysed, lying on a stretcher. Since there is a large crowd gathered around the house where Jesus is teaching, the friends show initiative and lower him through the roof. They’re desperate, bold, and a little presumptuous, but they know Jesus is the only man who can fix their friend’s problem. Jesus recognises that boldness and presumptuousness for what it is: “faith” (vv. 17–19).
If the crowd were surprised at this man’s unorthodox entry into the building, then they would have been stunned by what Jesus says next: “Your sins are forgiven” (v. 20).
Apart from the fact that the man was paralysed, we know nothing about him. We’re not told if he was a notorious sinner, or if his paralysis was a direct consequence of any sin he had committed. Spiritually, he was no different from you or I. Jesus, however, is showing us that sin lies at the heart of everything that’s wrong with the world, and with you and me personally. Therefore, the world’s greatest need is forgiveness.
Once again, we see that while Jesus will first announce to this man the forgiveness of his sins, He does not ignore physical suffering. The paralysed man experiences both the forgiveness of his sins and the healing of his body (vv. 24–25).
Surprisingly, the religious leaders express their displeasure at Jesus’ words (v. 21). They rightly recognise that He is claiming to be God. They wrongly conclude that this is blasphemy. It is not that the Pharisees cannot believe; they will not believe. From this point on, their hostility will only become more intense.
I thank God daily for good physical health, but I know that more than anything else, I need to hear His words: “Your sins are forgiven” (v. 20). And they really are!
What can we learn from this passage about the nature of faith, as expressed by the friends of the paralysed man?
In your life, how are you trying to reflect the ministry of Jesus in responding to the needs of people’s bodies, minds, and souls?