Why Did Jesus FIRST Forgive The Paralytic? (Instead of healing him) #205

Hello friends and happy Monday to you! I hope you had a blessed Lord’s day yesterday. Our church was back to online church only for this week, but we are meeting again – outdoors – next Sunday…which is going to be logistically difficult, but awesome and I can’t wait. Today’s Bible readings include Judges 3, Acts 7, Jeremiah 16 and Mark 2. Mark 2 is a fantastic passage of Scripture and it features Jesus doing something incredibly counterintuitive to us that becomes an incredible teaching when you realize why Jesus did what He did. Let’s read Mark 2, and see if you see the surprising act of Jesus in it.

First, we should Notice that there was a large crowd listening to Jesus and drawn to Him. In fact, He was very, very popular with the people. How is it then that at the end of His ministry, His followers numbered approximately 120?  The fact is that to be in the crowd of people who like Jesus and listen to His teaching did not make them (or you) followers of Jesus. The great danger in American Christianity is when people think they are disciples of Jesus because they like and listen to Him, but in reality – they are only part of the crowd. Jesus was popular and well liked, except by the elite, but that is not the same thing as repenting, discipleship, faith or obedience.

I am about to ask a question, and I want us all to understand how important the question was to the son of God. It is important to realize that it was this act of Jesus was what started Him, in a human sense, on the road to the cross. In forgiving the paralytic’s sins FIRST and OBVIOUSLY, Jesus showed the leaders of Israel that He was claiming to be God. What was their response? “Blasphemy!” Why was Jesus crucified? Blasphemy! In all four gospels, Jesus is condemned as worthy of death for the sin of blasphemy because He claimed to be God. “Mark 14:64 You have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?” They all condemned him as worthy of death.65 Then some began to spit at him; they blindfolded him, struck him with their fists, and said, “Prophesy!” And the guards took him and beat him.”
So – here’s the question: Why did Jesus forgive the man’s sins first? Think about it: This man is so critically ill, that he needs four guys to carry him and move him around. He is a PARALYTIC – paralyzed. We expect Jesus to just quickly heal the man, but He doesn’t.
I believe the answer is that this was his greatest need. Everybody – ESPECIALLY him thought that his greatest need was to be able to walk. What do you think your greatest need is?  My greatest need is relationship with God, and the greatest hindrance to that is my sin – even as a Christian. How magnificent it is that Jesus, as God on the cross, forgave my sins.

OUR GREATEST NEED IS PARDON FOR SIN.  Stop and consider. Do YOU believe this. Do you believe that is humanity’s greatest need? YOUR greatest need?  If not, let me gently nudge you…maybe just outright poke you. If your mind rebels at the thought that pardon for sin is your greatest need, then I don’t believe you’ve understood the Gospel. 

Ephesians 5:5  For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.  BROTHERS and SISTERS – THIS IS ME. AND, IF WE’RE TELLING THE TRUTH HERE, THIS IS YOU TOO! 1 Cor 6:9 1 Corinthians 6:9-10  Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? 

Matthew 5:20

For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

Romans 3:23 – All have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God. Romans 6:23 – The Wages of sin is death. 

You might say – not me, so much…I TRY TO DO GOOD. I help people and don’t do bad things. I try to be a good person.

Galatians 3:10 For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, because it is written: Everyone who does not continue doing everything written in the book of the law is cursed.


Our sins and impurities have BARRED US FROM ETERNAL LIFE IN HEAVEN! 

BUT!   Romans 5:8 But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

That is the good news, and our greatest need is not healing, or health, or success, but that we might know God, be forgiven by Him, and be saved for eternal life. Let’s ask Tim Keller to bring the point home for us:

Jesus goes over to the paralytic and doesn’t say, “Rise. Get up. Take up your mat and walk.” He goes over to the man and says, “Son …” That’s very tender, by the way. We’ll get back to that. “Son, your sins are forgiven.”

I would think some of the friends of the paralytic might have said, “All right. Good. That’s always a good thing, but anyone with eyes in his head should see that our friend here has a slightly more urgent, a little more immediate problem.” Jesus is saying to them, “No, he doesn’t.” The first thing we’re going to learn here is that Jesus is saying there is nothing more basic than a right relationship with God.

Physical health, material prosperity … those are good things. They’re great things, but nothing is more important than having a right relationship with God, reconciled to God. Nothing. Please notice something. Jesus does eventually heal him, does he not? Neither the Bible in general nor Jesus in particular teach that the body is just the prison house of the soul, that this life doesn’t matter, that we shouldn’t deal with suffering and disease and poverty; we should just fix our eyes on the beyond and wait to escape this terrible dark world. No, none of that.

The Bible says God created both soul and body. He’s going to redeem us soul and body. That’s what the resurrection is all about. Jesus does heal him. He does do physical healing. Our future is a material, physical future, not just heaven. We’re going to have a new heavens and new earth. There’s every indication that the Bible takes the body and the physical and our material well being very seriously, but as significant as they are, they are not primary.

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…You need to be reconciled to God more than you need anything else.

It’s the most urgent need. If it hasn’t happened to you, then it’s the one healing that has to happen before any other healing can happen. So that’s what we learn from the first surprise, the surprise of the seekers of the healing. “Why in the world are you giving this guy forgiveness of sins when he’s paralyzed?” Jesus is saying, “It’s because you need that more than you need to get up and walk.”

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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