Addressing the Sin First
When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”
Crippled by circumstances, immobilized by fear, stunned by the decision of someone else, numbed by loss, buried underneath a healthy load of depression – it was into this kind of world that Jesus came. He could have tended to all of our emotional and physical needs, but the spiritual priority came first. He eventually had to leave a house surrounded by inquisitive friends and a hole in the roof and die on a hill with thieves in order to freely offer forgiveness to those who hadn’t even ask for it. He had to set right a wrong relationship with God and to reverse a cosmic curse that fills our world with paralytics.
When Jesus said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven” there is an implied claim that Jesus is making and that the religious leaders certainly caught. Do you know what Jesus is claiming when he looks at a man and says, “I forgive your sins, all of your sins, now?”
He’s saying, “All your sins toward other people have really been against me. Everything you’ve ever done in rebellion has ultimately been against me.” The only person who could possibly say to a human being that everything you’ve ever done wrong has been against me would be your Creator, the Person who made you, who says, “I made you for a purpose and when you violate that purpose, you’re violating the very thing I made you for.” Only your Creator, only your Lord, could say that. Jesus was saying, “All sins are against me. When you lie, it’s my commands you’re breaking. When you trample on some human being, that’s my creation you’re trampling on.” All sin is ultimately against Him.
Why did Jesus address his sin first? The reason Jesus addressed his sin first was to set him up for entire life restoration. The paralyzed guy probably thought, “If I could just walk again, I’d never be unhappy another day of my life.” The plight of human history - the big thing you want finally comes. But the euphoria doesn’t last. Several months or even years would pass, and he’d grow complacent and the rush of the miracle would give way to daily plodding through life. Jesus created a moment that he could remember - the day that Jesus set him free.
This man has known dependency, humiliation, confinement, boredom, loneliness, frustration, shame, despair. This was his identity. He had a lot of accumulated paybacks. He had four friends, but he had many hurts. Jesus wasn’t just going to heal his body and let him think that he had received his deepest wish. Jesus drove him deeper to a new identity. And while his four friends were incredible and could provide some community and connection, they could not do for him what Jesus does for him here.
This paralyzed man and everybody there had the unspoken assumption that it was sin in this man’s life or the lives of his parents that placed him in this mess. Somebody got on God’s bad side and this man is the result. He had heard it for so long, that he believed it himself. No doubt, the man had a lot of time to think and to grow bitter over his plight. Jesus realized that you can be a paralytic on a mat and still harbor the most egregious sins of all: resentment, judgmentalism, and lovelessness. The healthiest legs in the word can’t run fast enough to free you from sins of the spirit. Jesus started this man’s wholistic healing with the spiritual first. All of his short-comings and failures were exposed in the presence of one who even knew what people were thinking.
Your sin is ultimately against Him. Receive His forgiveness today.