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February 27, 2021 | Doug Sauder
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“When Jesus came back to Capernaum a few days later, it was heard that He was at home. And many were gathered together, so that there was no longer space, not even near the door; and He was speaking the word to them. And some people came, bringing to Him a man who was paralyzed, carried by four men. And when they were unable to get to Him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above Him; and after digging an opening, they let down the pallet on which the paralyzed man was lying. And Jesus, seeing their faith, said to the paralyzed man, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven.’”—Mark 2:1–5 (NASB)
Those familiar with this passage of Scripture may well recognize it and think, Oh, yes, this is where the faith of the paralyzed man’s friends comes into focus. How we, as friends, can help bring people to Jesus. And they would be right.
But there, at the end of the passage, is the deeper focus.
In the days leading up to this miracle, Jesus had shown authority over temptation, demons, sickness, leprosy, and now a paralytic. But this was the first time Jesus showed His authority to forgive sins. And that was HUGE among a culture that believed only God could forgive sins.
Indeed, Jesus identified Himself as God. Now all eyes focused on that.
Granted, it was no small thing what the men went through to bring their paralyzed friend to Jesus. It took action, a concerted effort, and strategic means to ensure their friend would be seen. Their faith was also no small thing. And Jesus recognized it, but that wasn’t His sole purpose for being in that house. He purposed to reveal Himself as God.
Furthermore, it’s without coincidence Jesus performed astonishing miracles prior to His visit to the Capernaum house. For news about Him had spread everywhere (Mark 1:27). People flocked to see this Man who could heal the sick and denounce demons (Mark 1:32). Those miracles were only a prelude to the greater gift Jesus offered—forgiveness of sin.
I suggest people didn’t go to the house; Jesus brought them. He drew them there just as He continues to draw people to show Himself as Yahweh, their Savior, their only real need. In that moment, Jesus healed a man physically and then spiritually; He rewarded fervent faith and roused faint faith. He did (as is so common for Him) the unexpected, not only in bringing down the roof, but in elevating Himself as the God who forgives.
Let that be our focus as we bring people to Jesus. Insomuch He is our healer, He is more—He is our merciful God. While physical healing is something we all need from time to time, we must all consider the healing we need within the paralysis of sin. When we’re asked to pray for healing, let it be so. But may our prayers also speak of spiritual healing, whether for a seasoned saint or a lost soul, for that is where the Lord’s focus truly rests.
PAUSE: What was Jesus’ purpose for healing the paralytic? Why was that so controversial?
PRACTICE: As you consider the needs of those around you, do the physical needs supersede the spiritual needs? Think of the paralysis of sin both within the church of Christ and without.
PRAY: Jesus, if I have not already recognized You as God, reveal that to me. And if I grow faint in my faith, Lord, heal me of that illness, strengthen me. Give me opportunities to bring people to You and pray for their needs, which You, Lord, already know. Grant me this according to the glorious riches of Your grace. Thank You, Lord God. Amen.