This next passage tells the story of a guy willing to do anything to find change. This guy was a real fighter. He was tired of his life the way it was. He wanted to be healed and changed. That’s why he went looking for Jesus. But when he found Jesus, the change Jesus brought took him by surprise and went beyond what he expected.
One day Jesus was teaching, and Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there. They had come from every village of Galilee and from Judea and Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was with Jesus to heal those who were ill. Some men came carrying a paralysed man on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus. When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus.
When Jesus saw their faith, he said, ‘Friend, your sins are forgiven.’
The Pharisees and the teachers of the law began thinking to themselves, ‘Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?’
Jesus knew what they were thinking and asked, ‘Why are you thinking these things in your hearts? Which is easier: to say, “Your sins are forgiven,” or to say, “Get up and walk”? But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.’ So he said to the paralysed man, ‘I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.’ Immediately he stood up in front of them, took what he had been lying on and went home praising God.
- This is a crazy story! Where did these guys come up with the idea of climbing on the roof with a paralytic man and make a hole to lower him down?! Put yourself in the place of the paralytic man, how do you feel, what are you thinking, what are you expecting?
- What did Jesus mean by “your sins are forgiven you”? And why did he start by saying that instead of healing the man?
- Why were the religious people angry?
- Putting yourself in the place of the paralytic man again, what are you thinking and how are you feeling now after receiving what Jesus had to offer?
Summary and application
- So what is this forgiveness of sins, and is it something we still need today? Is there such a thing as sin?
In the first study we saw how Jesus came to set the captives free, heal the brokenhearted and give sight to the blind. We discussed about whether this was literal or figurative, relating to the state of the soul. Here we see Jesus offering both - physical and spiritual healing. Freedom in the body and in the soul.
Jesus wants to give us forgiveness - an inner freedom. This is freedom from our corrupt nature and our pride. Interestingly the paralytic man wasn't really looking for that. He hoped for physical healing, but Jesus’ first concern was with his heart, not his legs.
Jesus is a revolutionary who came to set us free, but we need to understand what he is freeing us from. This revolution starts within - in our character and in our hearts. Maybe we’re looking for a lot of things in this life, but when we find Jesus we discover that what we really need is this inner change - forgiveness of our sins.
Sins are the wrong things we do that separate us from God. The religious leaders were angry because they had power over religious ceremonies like offering forgiveness of sins. They ran a complex and lucrative system of animal sacrifice in the temple to declare people free of sin. Jesus bypasses the system and offers forgiveness free of charge. That is because there is a power in Jesus that cannot be found in any religion. Jesus defeated death, so he can defeat the death that is inside of us. It is his gift to us.