In light of the forgiveness of our sins in Christ, we respond like the paralysed man: praising God and walking in newness of life.
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?”
22 Jesus knew what they were thinking and asked, “Why are you thinking these things in your hearts? 23 Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? 24 But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the paralyzed man, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.”25 Immediately he stood up in front of them, took what he had been lying on and went home praising God. 26 Everyone was amazed and gave praise to God. They were filled with awe and said, “We have seen remarkable things today.”
Do you think that our sin is “easy” for God to forgive and fix, but that our suffering is too difficult, or beyond his reach or reasonable care?
It can be easy to think like this. But Jesus’ words and actions here suggest otherwise: his healing actions were a sign pointing to the greater reality that he can forgive sins. Forgiveness of sin is the most costly, most difficult thing… it required God’s own Son, and cost him his life.
God might not fix our problems instantly and dramatically, as he did for this man that day. But it’s not because he can’t, or doesn’t care. It’s because he is sovereign and gracious, and knows what we most need. Our greatest need is forgiveness of sins – and God secures this in the death of his Son. He knows that we need to be changed, to grow, to be made more like his Son – and he often does this through our suffering; purifying us like silver in the fire. But, amidst our sufferings, great and small, we can take heart from this paralysed man’s story, remembering that, “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all – how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:32)
How do we then respond, in light of this? Like the paralysed man did. He praised God. He knew how deep his need was, and how bereft of resources he was (like us). He knew he needed someone to save him (like we do)… and so the only possible response to his forgiveness and healing was praise. He also stood up, took his mat and walked. Jesus had given him new life. He didn’t keep lying on his mat; he got up and used his new legs.
Isn’t this what’s happened to us, too? “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” (Gal 2:20) We’ve been made alive in Christ! And so, let’s take our cue from this ancient, unnamed brother… in light of our forgiveness and new life in Christ, to praise God – joyfully, thankfully, daily – and to live the new life he’s given us, with all our energy and effort and enthusiasm; recognising the deadness and futility of our old lives and desires. Joyfully walking with new legs, not the old, dead legs that got us nowhere. Even as we suffer. And even as we still await our total healing and perfection when our Lord returns.
Head: Where is sin present in your life? Where is suffering present? Has this passage shaped how you think about them?
Heart: Memorise and meditate on Romans 8:32.
Hands: What’s just one thing you could change this week to walk more fully in the new life that Christ has given you?
Prayer: Father, thank you that you didn’t withhold even your own, precious Son from us, and that, through the cross, I stand completely forgiven in him. Thank you for your promises, and that you are good to me. Help me live for you and your glory. In Jesus’ name, amen.
A song to listen to: Resurrecting