Jesus Heals a Paralytic
2 And when he returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. 2 And many were gathered together, so that there was no more room, not even at the door. And he was preaching the word to them. 3 And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. 4 And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him, and when they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay. 5 And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” 6 Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, 7 “Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming!Who can forgive sins but God alone?” 8 And immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to them, “Why do you question these things in your hearts?9 Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk’? 10 But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the paralytic— 11 “I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.” 12 And he rose and immediately picked up his bed and went out before them all, so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!”
Here Jesus is again, He is in a house, preaching the gospel and healing the sick. A paralytic is lowered from the roof of the house and he asks Jesus to heal Him. But before Jesus heals him of his paralysis, He first tells the man ‘Son, your sins are forgiven.’
‘What on earth was Jesus talking about?’ You may ask. Jesus’ words in verse 20 surprise, shock and insult. This man merely asked to walk, did Jesus have authority to heal him? It seems like Jesus was focussing on the wrong thing here – but was He really?
As we reflect on this passage, we realise a few things:
1. Jesus recognised humanity’s biggest problem
Jesus looked past this man’s physical deformity. He looked past his physical incapacity and found that sin was man’s biggest problem. He likens sin very much to a paralysis, because sin immobilises us; it prevents us from living up to our fullest potential. It is a disease, slowly killing us and robbing us from life. And Jesus recognises that. Deep in our hearts, we yearn for perfection, wholeness, purity. We aim to be a good, better or the best person we could ever be, but what exactly is that? We seem continuously frustrated that we can never attain such atonement on our own efforts.
The pharisees could not save the Jews. In the same way, doing good works cannot say you because what concept of ‘good’ are you referring to? From birth, we have been evil. Yet, Jesus sees this and says ‘I forgive you’. He recognises what we really need, and what we need is forgiveness for our sins. He rebukes the pharisees for looking purely at the rigid rules. Rather, he offers another way to heaven: believe in me and change the attitude of your heart.
2. Jesus preaches that Christianity is not a religion
When discussing this at iClub on Monday, I put out this question: ‘According to the religions in your home country, what do you need to do to become pure? In Christianity, all you need to do is ask and Jesus will forgive. How is this different to other religions?’
One spoke about how in Hinduism, there were many rules on what not to do. He observed that Christianity talks about the heart, the earnest, internal thoughts and attitude as opposed to the list of things to do in other religions.
You see, Jesus looks beyond your physical need and probes your heart. He sees what is wrong on the inside and he tells you that the only way to be saved is to change that heart. It is not about keeping the Sabbath, refraining from certain foods or doing certain things a specific number of times a day. These routines are nothing when compared to the attitude of your heart.
3. The healed paralytic took his bed with him
Every time I read this, I find it so interesting this man would bring his bed with him in verse 12. If I were healed, I would not want any memory of how I was once bound to the bed. This mat that I lay on for my whole life would be a traumatic memory of what life was life, and now I would want to look forward in life and start it anew. However, he chose to take his mat with him.
Why? Because he wanted to show others how Jesus had changed him. He wanted to show the ‘before and after’; he wanted to show people what he had been before he met Jesus. And that made me think about how I treated God when he performed a miracle. Many times we ask God for certain things/miracles, but when we get it, we completely forget what we were like before God helped. Unlike the healed paralytic, we tend to leave the mat behind and just move on with our lives.
This passage has been a recurrent one this week, and I just thought it would be nice to share a few of my thoughts.
Have a blessed Friday,