Have you ever noticed that when there is a crisis, a really big issue, or a problem in biblical accounts that include Jesus, that He always deals with the heart first? A friend of mine pointed this out to me, and as I read about Jesus and His actions, I am noticing that this is true.
This week I read a favorite Jesus passage of mine all about that time a man was lowered down through a roof by his friends so that Jesus could heal him. Are you familiar? It’s so great! But there it was again; Jesus dealt with the heart issue before He dealt with the physical healing. Let’s take a look at this remarkable story found in Mark 2.
“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 paralyzed 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 paralyzed man, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven.’” Mark 2:1-5 (NIV)
A man is paralyzed and his good friends not only carry him to Jesus, but then because of the crowds, they make the effort to go up on a roof, dig through, and get their friend down to Jesus. These friends knew that Jesus had the power to heal, and they had the love and tenacity to get their suffering friend down to Jesus so that he could walk again. They had one goal in mind.
But as we talked about above, Jesus always addresses the greatest need first. He had a different goal, a more important goal in mind. Jesus was concerned about this man’s heart. And while we don’t know what the details were, Jesus knew that this man had unforgiven sin. He knew that the paralyzed man needed to be forgiven and to be reconciled with God.
Some biblical scholars have wondered if perhaps the man was paralyzed because of a sin that he had committed. We aren’t able to know, but what we do know is this: the greatest need that anyone ever experiences, and we all experience it in life, is to have our sins forgiven. Our greatest need is to come into a right relationship with the Lord. Side note: if you haven’t done this, today is the day of salvation. Ask Jesus to forgive your sins and to make you a child of God. (2 Corinthians 6:2, John 1:12)
I imagine that the friends who had brought the paralyzed man were a little confused at this point. Perhaps they were thinking, “Well, that’s nice. But we’re here to see our friend be healed and walk again.” And Jesus does go on to miraculously heal the paralyzed man.
“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!’” Mark 2:10-12 (NIV)
I cannot fathom the joy that this man felt to stand up and walk out of that place! Oh, the freedom and relief and excitement to get a new life with a healthy body! But I believe that he was even more joyful, more ecstatic to know that his sins had been forgiven, which is truly the greatest miracle of all. In Psalm 32:1-2, David writes of this ecstatic joy. He says, “Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight! Yes, what joy for those whose record the LORD has cleared of guilt, whose lives are lived in complete honesty.” (NLT)
Friend, if you, like the paralytic man, need Jesus to forgive sin in your life, stop right now and ask Him to do it. He will! I John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (NKJV)
Let Jesus deal with the most important issue in your life, your heart.
Annie Boyd is a co-founder and contributor at The Gingham Apron, an online place of encouragement and inspiration. She is the co-author of The Gathering Table: Growing Strong Relationships through Food, Faith, and Hospitality. Annie lives in southern California with her family, enjoying both the mountains and beaches.