LUKE 5:20-25: “Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the man, “Young man, your sins are forgiven.” But the Pharisees and teachers of religious law said to themselves, “Who does he think he is? That’s blasphemy! Only God can forgive sins!” Jesus knew what they were thinking, so he asked them, “Why do you question this in your hearts? Is it easier to say ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or ‘Stand up and walk’? So I will prove to you that the Son of Man has the authority on earth to forgive sins.” Then Jesus turned to the paralyzed man and said, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and go home!” And immediately, as everyone watched, the man jumped up, picked up his mat, and went home praising God.” NLT
OBSERVATION: What is the greatest miracle of life? Is it when we receive physical healing? Is it when we receive financial provision to meet our needs? Or, is it something else entirely?
I love the story of the healing of the paralytic man. It shows the power of collective faith and it reveals God’s heart. Four men, who had a paralytic friend, were determined to bring him to Jesus so that he could be healed. They could not enter the home where Jesus was, due to the crowds, so they took their friend up on the roof, removed the thatched roofing, and lowered him right in front of Jesus.
This not only took faith – it took some skill! The Bible does not tell us how they lowered the man. However, it must have been with ropes tied to his mat and with great skill and care. Jesus, noting the faith of the four friends, looks upon the paralytic and says – “Young man, your sins are forgiven.”
I think you could hear a pin drop when these words were spoken by Jesus. First, the four friends brought their friend to be healed, not forgiven. I can imagine their bewilderment when they heard these words from Jesus. Second, the Pharisees and teachers began to look at each other in disbelief. Why, who could forgive sins but God alone! What presumption, what pride, what blasphemy they thought!
It does not say Jesus heard the Pharisees and the teachers say anything. He could tell what they were thinking just by the look in their eyes and the looks they were giving one another. Jesus turns and asks them – “Is it easier to say ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or ‘Stand up and walk’?” They were doubting the internal work of grace that Jesus had just proclaimed. Therefore, to show them His ability to forgive sins he healed the paralytic.
It truly is easier, from our perspective, to say – “Your sins are forgiven,” than to say to a paralytic – “Stand up and walk.” Yet, the reality is that it is easier to change the external situations of life than it is to change the condition of one’s heart. We find ourselves so preoccupied with the externals of life that we miss the true miracles that God performs. To be truly forgiven, to have our sins washed away, to receive the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus is the most powerful miracle that we could ever receive from God!
Paul recognized this when he wrote,
- “I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake, I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith.” Philippians 3:7-9 NLT
To become righteous through faith, to be fully pardoned from our sins, to stand before the Father clothed in Jesus’ righteousness is the greatest miracle each one of us could receive. It is the only gift that gives us eternal life. We can be healed in this life, only to die one day in the future. We can receive provision, only to leave it all behind when we die. Yet, when we receive the forgiveness of sins through our Lord Jesus Christ we receive both the blessings of eternal life and the full riches of heaven!
We too often judge God’s love for us by what He does in the externals of our life. Jesus did heal the paralytic. However, if they had carried him away on the mat – with his sins forgiven – this would have been equally a miracle for this man. The transformation of our soul is something that only God can do. And, He only does it through faith in Jesus Christ. When we believe in Jesus Christ – we are forgiven, cleansed, transformed, and received fully as a son and daughter of God.
Each one of us, who has placed our faith in Jesus Christ, has received the greatest miracle! When we look at what He has done in our hearts, when we reflect upon the power of His forgiveness, everything else pales in comparison. While it is easier to get excited when we see an outward miracle, like when someone who is paralytic rises and walks, we must never forget the greatest miracle of all!
- “Look, I have given you authority over all the power of the enemy, and you can walk among snakes and scorpions and crush them. Nothing will injure you. But don’t rejoice because evil spirits obey you; rejoice because your names are registered in heaven.” Luke 10:19-20 NLT
Lord, thank you for the gift of forgiveness! Grant me the grace to walk in the power of this eternal gift. This morning, I count everything else but loss to the wonder of receiving Your righteousness through faith!
In Jesus Name!