What is Man’s Most Important Need? #330

Hello friends and happy Saturday! Our readings today range from 1 Chronicles 16 to Obadiah 1, to Luke 5 and end with James 3.  Today’s episode and tomorrow’s are going to be shorties, given that this is the weekend, so let’s get started!

This will not be a deep and theological treatment of what is a most important question that some people have literally written books about. We will go shallow, but shallow enough to see the enormity of the truth our deepest need isn’t usually what we think it is. In today’s Luke 5 passage, we see this when Jesus does something that is more stunning to the crowds than raising the dead, healing the sick, or opening blind eyes. Let’s read Luke 5 to discover this audacious thing.

19 Since they could not find a way to bring him in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on the stretcher through the roof tiles into the middle of the crowd before Jesus. 20 Seeing their faith he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.”21 Then the scribes and the Pharisees began to think to themselves, “Who is this man who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?”

Luke 5:19-21

Realize the sheer audacity of what Jesus is doing here. These men go to incredible pains to bring their friend to Jesus, and when Jesus sees him, he’s not dumb – he’s not naive or unaware – He KNOWS that everybody watching, as well as the man and his friends, are expecting Jesus to heal the man. Jesus isn’t callous either – He’s not refusing to heal this man’s need, but instead, He is giving us a loud statement about what your greatest need, and my greatest need is. You might think it is healing for you, or others. Or protection. Or finances, a raise, a new job, reconciliation in one of your relationships, and our greatest need is literally none of those things UNLESS the reconciliation that needs to happen in one of your relationships is the one between you and God…because THAT, my friend is my greatest need, and your greatest need. Literally every other need of our life is less on the priority scale than that one, because it is literally the only need that is permanent, eternal and lasts beyond this lifetime. The Bible teaches that we are eternal beings – not just fleshly humans that live 75 years or so and then return to the basic elements of the earth. We live for an eternity, and we have just exactly ONE eternal need – forgiveness from God so that we can be in a good relationship with God. Forgiveness of sins so that we can live for eternity in Heaven. Jesus is showing us (and the crowds that watched) as emphatically as possible, that even the most desperately ill sick person still needs their sins forgiven more than anything else in the world. The wonderful news of the Gospel is quite simply this: God WILL grant that request of meeting our greatest need – forgiveness of sins – for all who ask for it in Christ and through faith in Christ. Will He heal you physically? Help you with other needs? Maybe. I certainly still believe in miracles and have seen God do inexplicably amazing things…but know this: All of us will die, unless the Lord returns in our lifetime, which means there are some wounds, some conditions, come catastrophes, some illnesses and some effects of aging that we will NOT be healed of physically in this life. And that’s hard…but isn’t it wonderful that our greatest need can be met with a 100% chance of happening, and all we have to do trust Jesus in faith? Here’s Tim Keller on this passage:

Jesus is saying there is something beyond this life that is more important than this life, and if you don’t connect to that thing that is more important than life, you won’t live life well. What you need more than anything else is a right relationship with God as Father because your sins are forgiven.

When Jesus is talking about, “Son, your sins are forgiven,” what he’s actually pressing on him, what he’s offering to him, is a new relationship with God, not as a boss but as a father, so that you are a forgiven, loved, accepted child of God as Father through Jesus Christ. That’s the most important thing. That’s always the most important thing. No matter what your problem is, you think, “This is my most important, my most urgent problem.” No, this is the biggest need. If it hasn’t happened, this is the healing you need. No matter what else is your problem, you need to have your sins forgiven. That’s the most fundamental need.

Now I can imagine for a second some objections. I can imagine somebody out there saying, “You really don’t realize I’m suffering from a physical ailment. It’s very, very serious. It’s wrecking my life. It is my most urgent need. Yes, I’d be happy to work on a spiritual relationship with God at some point, but the main thing I need is I need to be well.” Jesus is saying to you, “No. You need a relationship with God as Father even more than you need to be well.”

Here’s why. Even if you got that healing tonight, you’re going to get sick again. Something else bad is going to happen, and you’re going to be whipsawed back and forth between fear and anger and dark despair unless you know God not as just some kind of remote deity but as a father.

Timothy J. Keller, “A Paralytic Forgiven,” in The Timothy Keller Sermon Archive, 2014–2015 (New York: Redeemer Presbyterian Church, 2015), Mk 2:1–12.

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