A group of men come to Jesus. One of them is disabled. The men know Jesus can heal people. Because the last time Jesus was in their town he healed everyone that came to him. Unfortunately the disabled man and his friends weren’t around. They missed out.
But not this time.
Jesus is back in town. The crowd at his house is so large no one else can get in. But this doesn’t stop the group of men. Together they haul their disabled companion up the exterior house stairs. Then they rip through the roof in order to lower their friend down to Jesus. No time to worry about the damage to the house. They’ll take care of that later.
For now, they have one concern. Get our disabled friend to Jesus.
They lower the man right it front of Jesus. Jesus sees the man. Jesus sees that the man is disabled.
The men look down from the roof, hope fills their hearts. They did what they set out to accomplish.
A hush falls over the crowd inside the house. Everyone is expecting Jesus to do one thing. The same thing Jesus did the last time he was in town. Heal someone.
But Jesus doesn’t meet their expectations. At least not right away. Instead with compassion in his eyes, Jesus says to the disabled man, “Son your sins are forgiven.”
The words catch everyone off guard.
In particular, the words of Jesus irritate the religious experts in the room. They know that only God can forgive sins. Jesus knows what they are thinking. And he knows that they are right.
But what they don’t know yet is that Jesus is God. So Jesus shows them.
He says to the disabled man, “get up, take your mat, and go home.” The disabled man stands up, picks up his mat, and goes home. Everyone is amazed. They break out in worship, praising God saying, “we have never seen anything like this!”
Now there are new expectations.
John MacArthur once asked, what is the one thing that makes Jesus different from every other religious leader and Christianity different than any other religion?
His answer, only Jesus can forgive sins. Only Christianity offers (through Jesus) the forgiveness of sins.
This is significant.
Other people can heal our physical needs (and other similar needs –financial, relational, emotional etc.)
But only God can heal our spiritual need. The need to be freed from the guilt and eternal consequences of all our wrong doings. The need to be forgiven.
Jesus healed the disabled man to prove that he has the authority to forgive sins. But Jesus doesn’t heal everyone. Not then. And not now.
I was reminded of this harsh reality when I was guest preaching last week. In the front row of a few hundred people sat a young girl in a wheelchair.
Why doesn’t Jesus heal her?
Jesus cares for all that he has made. But to heal the body is a temporary fix. And every other need outside the need for God to forgive our sins is temporary.
Jesus came to provide us more than just a temporary fix. He came to give us something that would last forever and could never be taken away.
A status change.
From enemy of God to adopted son or daughter of God. From sinner to saint. From slave to sin to slave to righteousness. From recipient of God’s wrath to recipient of God’s grace. From worshiper of gods to the worshiper of God. From the hopeless to the hopeful. From a seeker of love to one that is loved unconditionally.
All such status changes (and more) come from receiving the forgiveness of sins.
In 2015 you and I will be needy. We will have physical needs, relational needs, emotional needs, financial needs. We should takes all these needs to Jesus.
But let us come expecting that Jesus wants to do something more than just provide us with temporary fixes. The disabled man and his friends were drawn to Jesus because of a physical need. But Jesus used the opportunity to heal the man’s greater need. We should expect that Jesus will do the same with each of us.