Jesus asked, “Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your bed, and walk’? -Mark 2:9
In this life, some people are the prisoners of physical maladies such as blindness, deafness, crippled limbs, incapacitating mental syndromes, debilitating, even lethal cancers, and beyond. You can only imagine the physical and mental challenges some face in living daily life with such illnesses.
Take Joni Eareckson Tada for example. Life as a quadriplegic has to be very painful and difficult. You need your body to even be living, and yet you are, so to speak, imprisoned by it because it doesn’t work the way it was designed to work.
The young men at the PAYH today struggle with the feeling that they are not really “free. They can’t just do things every day as they feel. They can’t decide to get up today and say, “I’m done with this, and walk away without some serious ramifications. However, their life is certainly not constrained by these same physical limitations, which if not miraculously healed, imprison them to the powerful constraints in their body.
If you are a paralytic, you need help from family or friends. Four friends, one on each corner of his stretcher, brought a paralyzed man to Jesus because they thought He could take away his inability to walk or use his arms with just a word. They had the ingenuity to go up on the roof of the home where Jesus was speaking to a crowd which overflowed the place. They removed enough tiles from the roof to form a hole large enough to lower the man to the floor right in front of Jesus.
They fully expected Jesus to say to him, “Be healed! and the paralysis would flee his body immediately. This is the very reason they brought him to Jesus, but Jesus shocked them when He said to this man, “Your sins are forgiven! They were surely thinking, “What? This is not why we went to all this trouble to bring him to You.
The Pharisees were the only ones to latch on to these “strange words, but they did. They surmised correctly, however, that only God can say this; only God has the power and authority to forgive sins! Therefore, since Jesus was a mere man, He was blaspheming God.
So, Jesus responded to their charge of blasphemy. He posed a question none of us answer accurately: Which is easier? To forgive sins or to heal from paralysis? Well, of course anyone can say, “Your sins are forgiven! because what do the people see immediately in this case? Nothing!
But you can do the miraculous, and they see a from-birth paralyzed man actually get up on his own two legs, pick up his bed with once paralyzed arms, and walk out of the place. Now, this is something for which to be amazed!
None of us are impressed by a cleansed heart we cannot in any case immediately see, but we are amazed by the tangible fact of seeing known long-term paralysis healed right before our very eyes. Only Jesus knew He had the power and authority to forgive sin and exactly what that forgiveness meant to this man’s eternity. Jesus then proved for this audience and His critics His ability to forgive sin thoroughly by healing this man physically.
Forgiving sins is infinitely harder, though, since only God can truly do it, and how absolutely it is necessary. Jesus was saying to those knowledgeable enough to know it, “I am God! Additionally, forgiving sins is infinitely more important than healing from paralysis! Paralysis in this brief life does not compare in one iota to a perfectly healthy life for eternity! Forgiveness of sin is completely necessary to enter heaven, to live in a new earth.
So what do you think about Jesus’ question? Seriously! What is the greater miracle? The forgiveness of your sin forever, or the healing of your body in this life?
If you have trusted in Jesus for the forgiveness of your sin, and you trust Him emphatically to really do just that, is He not your most prized possession? And the knowledge of complete and thorough forgiveness? Isn’t having Jesus dwelling in you the greatest thing in your life? Greater than any malady that you are faced with today?
If this is your case, then live it out. Prize above everything else the forgiveness of your sins. Treasure your salvation in Jesus above all.
“Long my imprisoned spirit lay fast bound in sin and nature’s night. Thine eye diffused a quickening ray; I woke, the dungeon flamed with light. My chains fell off, my heart was free. I rose, went forth, and followed Thee. Amazing love! How can it be that Thou my God shouldst die for me?
(Fourth verse of Charles Wesley’s hymn, “And Can It Be That I Should Gain, 1738)
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