Summary: The power of forgiveness is a profound truth in the Christian message. Jesus doesn't just heal but forgives as well.
By Rev Bill Stewart
What sorts of things can you now claim on your health insurance that you couldn’t 20 years ago? Pilates classes, yoga, naturopathy. You can even buy a new pair of running shoes because you might just run around the park once or twice! Aren’t these things a sign that are our society has been changing its mind about what it means to be healthy and what healing involves? Over the last 20 years or so we have seen the development of the “holistic health” movement. That is to say many medical practitioners now believe that all aspects of people's needs, psychological, physical and social need to be part of their medical care. But the idea of holistic health is not just restricted to medicine is it? Many alternative forms of non-Christian religion and spirituality are now part of many people's health care—the Mind Body Spirit movement. I would like us to do two things together today. The first is to look at Jesus’ healing of the paralyzed man in Mark chapter 2. The second is to ask these questions: What does it mean to be a “healthy” person? What does it mean to be healed? How does Jesus healing of the paralyzed man influence our Christian understanding of healing? Then I want to tell you about something Gus said. If you don’t know Gus I will tell who he is and what he said at the end of the sermon.
Someone has worked out that at least a quarter of the four Gospels are about Jesus’ healing people. Obviously healing was a very important part of Jesus’ ministry. And throughout his ministry people looked to Jesus to heal them. Today we heard the unforgettable story of the four people who bring their friend to Jesus to be healed of his paralysis. Many of us probably remember it from Sunday School. They were so desperate to get him to Jesus that they dug a hole through the roof. Are we that desperate to bring people we know to meet Jesus?
1. HEALING AND SALVATION
The Gospel reading says in verse 5 that, “When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, ‘Child, your sins are forgiven’.” Why doesn’t Jesus say to the man: “Your body is healed”? Why does he say: “Child, your sins are forgiven”? It seems to me that it is because healing and salvation are not divided in the Bible the way we divide them. In the Bible a person cannot be properly healed unless their relationship with God has been healed. This does not mean that physical healing doesn’t matter. Physical healing does matter. Jesus heals the physical problem of the paralysed man. But just because we are physically healthy does not mean we don’t need to be healed. In the Bible to be completely well we also need to be at peace with God. Many times in Mark’s Gospel we see that Jesus heals people physically and spiritually. Another very good example of this comes in chapter 5. Jesus heals the woman who touched his coat to be healed from the bleeding she had suffered for 12 years. What did Jesus say when he realized that the woman touched him? “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace and be healed of your disease” (verse 34).