The largest group of Jesus’ miracles mentioned in the New Testament involve physical healings. The Gospels give varying amounts of detail for each episode—sometimes Jesus cures simply by saying a few words, other times by a touch. But they all display His power over sickness.
In today’s passage, Jesus heals a paralyzed man in Capernaum. Right now, I don’t want to focus on his friends lowering him through the roof, or the response of the crowd and the Pharisees. I want us to focus on what Jesus actually did.
Jesus did not heal this man right away. Instead, He first pronounced that his sins were forgiven. This surprised everyone. They were expecting, “I heal you,” not, “I forgive you.” Clearly, the friends who brought him there were hoping for physical healing. But Jesus seems to think this man has a bigger problem than paralysis. Jesus was interested in more than merely physical healing.
No other world religion claims a leader who is capable of forgiving our sins. All other religions teach that our goodness depends on how well we follow the rules. Jesus comes along and says, I forgive you. Pure grace. Pure love.
You may come to Jesus because you desire to be healed—perhaps from some physical paralysis, or perhaps from a mental or psychological paralysis. But underneath, maybe not even recognized, you have a deeper need, a more desperate need: to have your sins forgiven. Sin itself is a kind of paralysis of the soul. It prevents us from moving and acting as we were originally designed to do. Sin inhibits us from loving God and from loving our neighbors.
The primary purpose of Jesus’ miracles is to undo what sin has done to people. We have to remember that Jesus healed people physically so He could heal people spiritually. Sin is always the more fundamental problem.
Today, read the whole story in Matthew 9:1–8 and ask yourself this question: Which is easier to say, Your sins are forgiven or Get up and walk? What does that show us about Jesus’ power over sickness and sin?