It’s curious in today’s passage that Jesus doesn’t just say, as He sometimes says: “Your faith has made you well,” but says instead: “Your sins are forgiven you.” It’s interesting, of course, because in Jesus’ mind there is a connection between the paralysis of this man and his sins. From this, we might understand 3 related points that Jesus wishes us to hear today.
First, bodily sickness is caused by spiritual sickness. It’s possible that sometimes our bodily sickness is directly caused by our spiritual sickness. It could be that God is judging us or that, if we are His children, He is disciplining us so that we might come back to Him. It could be that the sickness in our soul has gotten into our hearts and minds and therefore makes the body sick. Modern medicine is becoming more and more aware of how spiritual and mental sicknesses may manifest themselves in bodily sicknesses.
It’s also important to realize that even if our bodily sicknesses aren’t always directly caused by our spiritual sickness, ultimately they are derived from sin. This is because as a result of sin, the world, including the world of the body, is fallen and decays as it was not created to.
The second point we might learn from Jesus’ pronunciation is that God cares about all of you: body and soul. Jesus could have gone around making a severe distinction between the body and the soul and proclaiming that people’s sins are forgiven without also healing their bodies. Instead, we find Him ministering to both body and soul. Sometimes, He heals the body and makes no direct mention of healing the soul; sometimes He ministers to the soul and doesn’t directly address the body. And sometimes He ministers to both, as in this passage and in the Feeding of the 5000.
It’s interesting also to remember that the Greek word sozo means both “to heal” and “to save.”
The third thing we might learn from Jesus’ pronunciation to the paralyzed man is that sin is the real problem in our lives. This is clear from His confrontation with the scribes. In the next section, verses 9-13, Jesus continues to show that He is ultimately concerned with spiritual sickness. “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick . . . . For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (verses 12-13.)
Today, you are the paralytic, and you are the tax collectors and sinners. In fact, we all are, for “none is righteous, no, not one.” You are the one who is paralyzed by your sins, which keep you from the life and health that God desires for you. You are the sinner who needs to repent from your sins.
Jesus, the Great Physician of the Body and Metaphysician of the Soul, has diagnosed your sickness: you have a terminal case of sin that will end in eternal death if untreated. But Jesus has also prescribed the remedy for your terminal illness: faith in Him demonstrated by repentance from your sins.
This story of Jesus’ healing was written for our learning. From this story of the paralytic man made whole you are to learn about Jesus and about your proper response of repentance, about marveling, and about glorifying God. What response would you have if someone you knew who had a physical problem were instantaneously healed from it? It would be to marvel and glorify God.
But you are to place yourself into this story even more immediately and personally. You are the one who is to be healed by Jesus. Although Jesus’ healing in your life today may not be as physical or dramatic as was the paralytic’s, it’s no less a marvel. Jesus turns to you today, if you believe and repent, and says, “Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you.”
Unlike the paralytic who was healed once, you are healed every day. No matter how many times you sin against God, He forgives you, as long as you repent. Every day when you come before the Lord to ask forgiveness, Jesus performs His daily miracle in your life. As with the Israelites, we need to make sure we don’t despise this daily miracle, just because it happens every day.
They ate the manna, the bread of heaven. But when we turn to Jesus and confess our sins, we eat Jesus Christ, the Bread of Heaven, and our daily bread.
As one who is sick and in need of healing, rush to the One who can heal you and perform the miracle of forgiveness one more time.
If you do, the prognosis is good – no – it’s G-r-reat!!, for Jesus Christ says to you: “Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you.”
Prayer: Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.
Point for Meditation:
- As you consider your sins today, meditate on and marvel at the greatness of God’s gift of forgiveness.
- Meditate on the power of God to forgive sins. What response should His forgiveness of sins, your sins, provoke from you?
Resolution: I resolve to come to Jesus today, confessing all my sins. I further resolve to glorify God when I accept His forgiveness.
© 2014 Fr. Charles Erlandson