Summary: Bringing others to Christ; forgiveness; healing the whole person;
THE HEALING OF A PARALYSED MAN
1. A SHARED FAITH
We have before us a remarkable account of faith, forgiveness, and healing. Hearing of Jesus, a paralysed man desired to see Him, with a view to seeking His healing touch. Four caring, believing friends bore the paralysed man to the place where Jesus was lodging, but these five people were not the only ones who had a desire to see our Lord.
The friends were not deterred by the crowd. They climbed onto the roof, and literally “dug through” the earthen clay right above Jesus’ head, and in language strangely reminiscent of a Jewish funeral, lowered the paralysed man into the room, at Jesus’ feet. That is a place we should desire to be: at the feet of Jesus!
What courage, what faith these friends had. How important it is for us not only to come to Christ ourselves, pleading at His feet for the forgiveness of sins, but also to bring others. It is, after all, worth the effort!
2. FORGIVENESS OF SINS
When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralysed man, "Son, your sins are forgiven" (Mark 2:5). This was possibly not what they expected, but this paralysed man had a much greater need than that he should be healed of his physical ailment. Like all of us, he was a sinner in need of forgiveness.
Jesus is not here suggesting that the man’s specific illness arose from his own specific sins. Whilst there are illnesses which can be traced to a specific sin on the part of the sufferer, such as the various illnesses which arise out of an immoral lifestyle, Jesus elsewhere cautions us against judging people in this way (John 9:2-3; Luke 13:1-5).
It is a habit of man to seek after God only in an emergency: when we desire something from Him. Whatever our worries or ailments, they are as nothing compared to our real need. All humankind stands guilty before God, and forgiveness can only be found in our Lord Jesus Christ, through the blood of His sacrifice.
3. PHYSICAL HEALING
Naturally enough, the religious leaders questioned Jesus’ authority to forgive sins: "Why does this fellow talk like that? He's blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?" (Mark 2:7). Poor blind leaders of the blind: did they not know that Jesus is God?
So Jesus changed the instruction to something which, surely, would be less offensive to them. The hitherto paralysed man got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, "We have never seen anything like this!" (Mark 2:9-12).
4. HEALING BOTH BODY AND SOUL
When Jesus met people, He did not merely deal with them at the level of their physical needs: He dealt with them as whole people with both physical and spiritual needs. The satisfying of the physical needs served to highlight the deeper spiritual need - which is why the apostle John, incidentally, spoke of miracles as ‘signs’ - and Jesus here emphasises that the healing is being used to display His authority to forgive sins (Mark 2:10).
We may pray about the things which cause us physical discomfort and suffering, as is clear from the Scriptures (James 5:14-15).
Yet what is it to be well? It is to be raised up in faith toward Jesus, and to be resurrected with Him at the last day. We are not always blessed with the immediate manifestation of our physical healing, but if we ask for forgiveness in the Name and through the sacrificial blood of Jesus, God will forgive us.
Some people are blessed with physical healing. For example, there were ten lepers who met Jesus between Galilee and Samaria. Only one of these returned to thank Jesus for the good deed.
The other nine were physically healed just as he was, but this one man was told, “Rise and go; your faith has made you whole” (Luke 17:19), implying that he received something which only comes by faith: the salvation of the soul and forgiveness of sin. How important it is for us to give thanks to the Lord for all His gracious benefits!
As we take our leave of this text, let us remember the faith which brought a poor paralysed man, a sufferer like many others, to the feet of Jesus. Let us remember the free gift of forgiveness which he received. Let us encourage one another in the faith, praying for one another that we might find the fullness of life in Him.