A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. They gathered in such large numbers that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them. Some men came, bringing to him a paralysed man, carried by four of them. Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralysed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” 

Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, “Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” 

Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, “Why are you thinking these things? Which is easier: to say to this paralysed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’? But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the man, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!” 

In this reading, we see Jesus miraculously heal a man who is paralysedand also face the criticism and anger of the religious leaders. Jesus sees the faith of these men, who in a bold move dig a hole through a roof! But it is interesting that what Jesus says to the man, who so obviously needs the use of his arms and legs, is “Son, your sins are forgiven.” We would expect Jesus to heal the man straight away, but he doesn’t. But why, what is Jesus teaching us here? 

Being paralysed, this man would have been totally dependent on friends and family to take care of him, particularly in the days before health care systems and insurance. He is totally reliant and can’t look after himself to survive. Surely if he needs anything, it is to be healed! But Jesus instead says that his sins are forgiven. All of us have needs in our life, things that we want God to help with, to make life better. Our world is crying out for help and healing, with at times there being so much sadness. So why does Jesus say to this man, “your sins are forgiven”? 

Jesus recognises that we have needs in our life. He knows, and experienced, what it is like to be a person struggling in this world, and the pain we can endure. But Jesus knows that there is a deeper issue which all of humanity struggles with. The need for forgiveness. Jesus gets straight to the heart of what we all need, which is forgiveness and the restoration of our relationship with God. Through Jesus’ death on the cross, and his resurrection to new life, we also have the hope of new life to the full. This isn’t to say that Jesus doesn’t care about our needs here and now and the suffering we endure. Jesus does go on to miraculously heal the man! Because Jesus knows our every need, desire, strengths and weaknesses. Jesus is the best friend that we can ever hope to have. And through him we have a glorious hope in eternity where there will be no more sickness, pain or sadness.  

We can respond to Jesus in prayer. Asking him to bless us, guide us and provide for us. But especially, to ask for forgiveness, and run to him and the love and mercy he offers. Amen! 

Mr Patrick Fabian 

Director of Faith & Ministry