When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.” The Pharisees and the teachers of the law began thinking to themselves, “Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” (Luke 5:20-21 NIV)
We have seen how four men took a risk to bring a paralyzed friend to Jesus, in order to be healed by him. Their faith impelled them to take the risk of removing part of the roof above where Jesus was inside the house, and then to lower their friend down through the opening before the Lord. Clearly, healing was on their minds and the paralyzed man’s mind, and probably on the minds of the people inside the house, when they got over the shock of the paralyzed man’s unconventional entry. All waited for the response of Jesus to what had happened.
First of all, we must understand that the Bible does not teach that an individual’s sin or sins is always a direct result of their sin. That is an error as old as Job’s friends. Certainly, it can be (1 Corinthians 11:29-30). But Jesus elsewhere taught that disability, disease, and physical suffering can be for other reasons. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” Jesus answered. “This came about so that God’s works might be displayed in him” (John 9:2-3 CSB). So then, we should not suppose, as some have suggested, that Jesus’ words, “Friend, your sins are forgiven”, were only a preliminary step to heal the man. What then was Jesus’ intent in this surprising greeting?
Christ spoke first to the man’s greatest need, his need to be right with God. It is common to assume that a person’s basic needs are medical, physical, familial, social, emotional, psychological, or financial. Most people spend most of their lives on a desperate search for the satisfaction of their assumed needs according to popular “wisdom”. Desires to improve our condition in this world are quite natural. It’s what people do. Jesus recognized human desires, but added a spiritual corrective to such passions. “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs” (Matthew 6:31-32 NLT). The seed that fell among the thorns represents those who hear God’s word, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life and the lure of wealth, so no fruit is produced (Matthew 13:22 NLT). Christ taught us to have higher ambitions: “Don’t store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves don’t break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19-21 CSB).
The Lord Jesus first met the paralyzed man’s spiritual need. His sins had separated him from God. The time had come to remove the barrier, so that the man could be right with God and to live as God’s child—in freedom from sin and in friendship with God over all.
Luke did not record the immediate reaction of the man or his four friends to Jesus’ word of forgiveness. However, we do know the correct response when our sins are forgiven. Blessed are those whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered (Romans 4:7 NIV). It is a time of great joy. To have our sins forgiven and to be declared right with God through faith in the Risen Christ is the greatest blessing anyone can receive. Do you have this joy?
In the pursuit of earthly desires and their pleasures, many have no interest in being forgiven and accepted by God. Heavenly matters are considered a total waste of time. But my reader, do you know that your sins are forgiven? Jesus the Messiah died on the cross for our sins and rose from the dead that we might be right with God. Don’t let this message be crowded out by the worries of this life and the lure of wealth. Before long, you will appear before the Lord. Your life is slipping away from you, and really, you cannot acquire anything in this world that can help you at the hour of death. You have an appointment with the true and living God that you will certainly keep (Hebrews 9:27)! Yet there is hope for you today. Now is the day of salvation and forgiveness of sins. Turn from them and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved today. Don’t risk eternal judgment by refusing mercy today!
Grace and peace,