Mark 2 opens with a wonderful story, one most of us learned at an early age. It is a story ready-made for children’s story hour. Four men put a paralyzed friend on a pallet and carried him to Jesus. The crowd was too great and they could get into the house where Jesus was teaching. So the four friends made a hole in the roof and lowered their friend down inside. Jesus immediately had compassion on the man and told him that his sins were forgiven. Jesus could have healed the man immediately but He rather chose to give the big gift first. Certainly having your sins forgiven is better than being cured of paralysis. But Jesus had more in mind here than simply healing this man. Jesus deliberately said He was forgiving the man’s sins for the benefit of the religious leaders listening. He knew they would immediately take offense at Jesus claiming authority to forgive sins. This healing gave Jesus the occasion to declare His divinity and to validate it by an awesome, undeniable display of power. Jesus told the paralyzed man to get up and carry his pallet home on his own two legs.
Jesus is the same today as He was then. He has not changed. Sinners have not changed either. Sinners are just like the paralyzed man. Sinners are just as helpless as the paralyzed man, unable to do anything in their own strength. Sinners must be brought to Jesus by a power outside themselves. Just like the paralyzed man received help from an outside source, so do sinners today receive help. Sometimes it comes from friends who lead them to Christ, but help always comes from the Holy Spirit who draws them to Christ. Sinners today have a great need to have their sins forgiven just like the paralyzed man did. Jesus stands ready and willing and able to forgive sinners today just as He did then. Sinners can receive a reprieve from the consequences of their sins just as the paralyzed man did. The paralytic was immediately freed from the guilt and the consequences of his sin. Sinners today can be sure that they too will be immediately freed from the guilt of their sins. They can also be sure that they are freed from the eternal consequences of their sins.
Sometimes sinners are immediately freed from the earthly consequences of their sins; sometimes they are not. That begs the question of, “Why?” I don’t suppose there is an easy answer to this question except for how it affects “faith”. Mark 1:5 says that Jesus forgave the paralytic’s sins upon seeing “their” faith. It seems to me that Jesus is referring to the faith of all five, the paralytic and his four faithful friends. The rest of the Bible verifies the truth that faith is necessary for forgiveness. I suppose that if everyone who received forgiveness of sins was also immediately cured of every earthly consequence of their past sinful behavior, then the watching world would be coming to Jesus in droves. That would not be the best thing, in fact, it seems to me that would be a bad thing, because you see, they would not be coming in faith. Rather, they would be coming with proof. The Bible says that without faith, it is impossible to please God. Forgiveness is not possible without faith. Every sinner who comes to Jesus asking in faith for forgiveness will be forgiven. Come to Him before it is too late. Turn to Jesus in faith asking for mercy and grace. He will not disappoint.