MARK 2:5-12: “When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven you.” And some of the scribes were sitting there and reasoning in their hearts, “Why does this Man speak blasphemies like this? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” But immediately, when Jesus perceived in His spirit that they reasoned thus within themselves, He said to them, “Why do you reason about these things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘ Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise, take up your bed and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins” —He said to the paralytic, “I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.” Immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went out in the presence of them all, so that all were amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!” NKJV
OBSERVATION: Today it is Christmas morning. The decorations are up, the tree is lit, presents are opened, and family is gathered together. Christmas is a wonderful time as we celebrate God’s gift of His Son Jesus Christ on that hallowed night. Yet, as all the gifts are opened – what is the greatest gift each of us can receive?
Is the greatest gift Christ coming in the form of human flesh and dwelling among us? Is it His teaching, miraculous healings, or His willingness to go to the cross? What is God’s greatest gift of all?
The story of the paralytic is a wonderful illustration of God’s greatest gift. Four men, desperate to find help for their paralyzed friend, climbed a roof, removed the thatching, and lowered the paralytic down by ropes – right in front of Jesus. No doubt they brought the man there to be healed. Yet, this is not what Jesus initially did. The first thing He did was proclaim the forgiveness of sins to the paralyzed man.
This caused quite a stir in the room. I can imagine that the four friends were disappointed. They had brought their friend there for a miracle. And, the religious leaders were incensed that a mere man would proclaim the forgiveness of sins over another man. To them this was blasphemy. At the point of Jesus initial statement no one was satisfied.
I wonder if we approach God in much the same way. We come to Him in prayer, having predetermined how we want Him to answer. And, when He does not answer us in the way we might desire, when our situation is not immediately changed, we too stand disappointed and confused. We forget what the greatest gift of Christmas is.
Jesus could have come to the earth, taught, healed, fed the multitudes, and suffered and died on the cross. Yet, if He never offered us the forgiveness of our sins all of this would have meant nothing. As Paul states in his epistle to the Corinthians,
- “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.” I Corinthians 15:19 NKJV
Think about the paralytic man. What if Jesus healed him, he walked out the door of the house, and continued to live in his brokenness and sin? What good would his new legs do him if his eternal soul was lost forever in hell? Jesus knew the greatest need this man had was to have his sins forgiven. It is only the gift of the forgiveness of our sins that opens the door to heaven and gives us full access to the Father. It is the greatest gift of all!
The wonderful thing about Jesus is that He often does not stop there. The Scriptures are replete with the gracious and merciful hand of God going beyond what we need with acts of kindness, love, and blessings. And, this is exactly what He did for this paralytic man in the sight of all!
- “Why do you reason about these things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘ Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise, take up your bed and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins” —He said to the paralytic, “I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.” Immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went out in the presence of them all, so that all were amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!”
This Christmas, when all the paper is thrown away, when the Christmas dinner is over and the dishes are cleaned up, when Dad takes a nap on the living room floor, and children play with their new toys, let’s not forget the greatest gift of Christmas.
The greatest gift that we will need is the forgiveness of our sins!
Lord, on this Christmas Day, I want to take time the thank you for forgiving my sin. This is the greatest gift of all and the one that makes everything else possible and worthwhile. And, thank you for Your promise to continue to forgive my sins whenever I call upon Your name!
- “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” I John 1:9 NKJV
In Jesus Name