Mark 2:1-12 – Take Up Your Bed and Walk
It is tempting to fixate on the paralytic’s immediate need and become uneasy at Jesus’ initial response. Friends or family of the paralyzed man had gone to great trouble to carry and lower him through a roof in order have Jesus heal him. But after all that trouble, Jesus receives the man by simply telling him that his sins are forgiven.
As theologically remarkable as Jesus’ forgiveness of the man’s sins was to the Pharisees, his’ mere forgiveness had to have been a terrible disappointment to the paralyzed man and his friends. Couldn’t Jesus heal him? And if he could heal him, why not heal him first and then worry about his sins? Did Jesus really need to use this paralyzed man’s condition as a way to humiliate his enemies?
But in healing his soul first, Jesus did address the paralyzed man’s most immediate need. In forgiving his sins, the man was freed from a greater burden which far overshadows any earthly suffering and hangs over every soul.
But to prove that his forgiveness was not just empty words, Jesus’ blessing didn’t rest with the man’s spiritual suffering. He asked: “Which is easier: to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’?” Both are equally impossible for us, but nothing is impossible for God who holds the power to forgive sins as well as mend men’s bones.
The teachers of the law were proven absolutely correct, even if their hearts were no where near God’s heart. Indeed, no one can forgive sins except God alone. Jesus’ physical healing of the crippled man put to rest who it was that was among them and with a mere command the power that flowed through him was a sure sign that God did in fact have authority over sin and death and both heaven and earth.
Here Jesus ultimately set a helpless man free from his physical suffering, but his first healing “Son, you’re sins are forgiven” are words that have set many free from the spiritual paralysis of sin.