One of Jesus’ miracles was the healing of a paralyzed man, recorded in three Gospels. Matthew 9:2-7, Mark 2:3-12 and Luke 5:18-26 all contribute details about this enlightening event. Jesus had taken up residence in Capernaum (Matthew 4:13), and his presence was quickly made known. Many people gathered until the house was full, and there was no room left inside. Jesus was preaching the Word of God to the people when four men brought a paralyzed man lying on a bed. Because there was no way to get in the door, these men took the bed up on the roof, uncovered the roof above Jesus, and lowered the bed with the paralyzed man. Jesus understood and acknowledged this determined display of faith. He said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven you.”
There were some of the scribes and Pharisees sitting there, who immediately thought, “Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” But Jesus “perceived in His spirit that they reasoned thus within themselves.” Then He immediately addressed them and asked, “Why do you reason about these things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise, take up your bed and walk?’” As usual, they didn’t have an answer for Jesus. He then said, “But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins”—He said to the man who was paralyzed, “I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.” Immediately the paralyzed man was healed and got up, picked up what he had been lying on, and went to his own house, glorifying God. Matthew 9:8 states that “…when the multitudes saw it, they marveled and glorified God, who had given such power to men.”
Again, the four men and the paralyzed man were all proactive in their resolve to connect with Jesus. They weren’t going to let the circumstances hinder them from their purpose. If they couldn’t get in through the front door, they would go through the roof. This demonstration still speaks loudly today to those with ears to hear. Like the persistent widow Jesus taught about in Luke 18, tenacity pays off. A paralyzed man was set free. This healing miracle also shows a connection between sin-consciousness and physical affliction. The first thing Jesus gave the man was forgiveness of his sins. This in itself may have been the key to his physical deliverance.
When the religious scribes and Pharisees presumed that Jesus was speaking blasphemously, Jesus declared His authority, the authority of God, to forgive sins. Jesus asked them, “For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise and walk’?” (Matthew 9:5) For Jesus, both were equally easy, so He said both.
In Luke 7:36-50, Jesus was sharing a meal with a Pharisee named Simon. A woman came in and washed Jesus feet, and kissed His feet, wiping them with her hair. The Pharisee was silent, but his thoughts were revealed to Jesus. Jesus then confronted his self-centeredness by teaching a parable. “There was a certain creditor who had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. And when they had nothing with which to repay, he freely forgave them both. Tell Me, therefore, which of them will love him more?” Simon answered, “I suppose the one whom he forgave more.” Jesus reproved Simon, a spiritual leader in Israel, for his failure to show common hospitality, and pointed out that an ordinary person, “a sinner,” had shown more love and respect. “Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.” Then He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” Again, the religious leaders questioned, “Who is this who even forgives sins?”
Although it is not certain exactly what caused the first man’s paralysis, Jesus responded to men’s collective faith. Jesus perceived that the paralyzed man needed freedom from condemnation and God’s assurance of forgiveness before he could have full confidence towards God to receive his healing. Although the religious men wrongly questioned Jesus’ authority to forgive sins, the paralytic accepted it and believed and was set free from his suffering, restored in body, soul and spirit to live a full and satisfying life.