And getting into a boat he crossed over and came to his own city. And behold, some people brought to him a paralytic, lying on a bed. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.” (Matthew 9:1-2)
I’ve been thinking about these two verses all week. These people carry their paralyzed friend to see Jesus in the hopes that he will walk back home with them. Instead of simply healing this man’s body, Jesus addresses the bigger problem—his soul. He forgives the man’s sins against the Father before ever addressing his sickness.
At first glance, it may seem like Jesus should have healed his body first, and then told him that his sins are forgiven. Maybe that’s because we have a small view of sin. This could be compared to a homeless man asking for fifty cents, but instead being given an endless supply of money.
Jesus eventually heals the man of his paralysis a few verses later. But I wonder if I were in the paralytic man’s shoes, which would I be more grateful for— Forgiveness or healing?
Out of compassion, Jesus healed many sick people during His time on earth (Matthew 14:14). But forgiveness of sins is the greatest gift we could ever receive. Jesus’ mission to reconcile His people to the Father was his ultimate purpose and plan (Luke 19:10). Our need of justification before God through the atoning blood of Christ is far greater than our need of healing in our earthly bodies.
Not to imply God doesn’t take joy in the miraculous healing of sick people among us today. He absolutely does. But Jesus addresses the terminal cancer of sin before healing the bruised fingertip, so to speak.
When I look back and consider what God has done for me and my family, I want the forgiveness of sins to be at the very top of the list. Everything else is just a bonus.