Jesus Christ came to earth and was crucified as our sacrificial lamb. He died on the cross in order to take the sins of the world so that everyone could be saved. Sadly, we all know that not everyone will enter the gates of heaven. Jesus built the bridge to eternal life. We must choose to walk over the bridge.
I believe one of the most under-recognized and under-appreciated stories in the Gospels is where Jesus heals the paralytic.
“One day as Jesus was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and Jerusalem, and the power of the Lord was with him for healing. And some men brought on a stretcher a man who was paralyzed; they were trying to bring him in and set him in his presence. But not finding a way to bring him in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on the stretcher through the tiles into the middle in front of Jesus. When he saw their faith, he said ‘As for you, your sins are forgiven’. Then the scribes and Pharisees began to ask themselves ‘Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who but God alone can forgive sins?’ Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them in reply, ‘What are you thinking in your hearts? Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven, or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins,” he said to the man who was paralyzed, “I say to you, rise, pick up your stretcher, and go home.” (Luke 5:17-24)
The friends of the paralytic never gave up on getting him to the feet of Jesus. They encountered many obstacles. They had crowds blocking their way and walls preventing their view. However, instead of taking him home and saying “I am sorry we couldn’t get you to Jesus”, they chose to climb on the roof and make a hole in the roof. Imagine carrying a paralyzed man up on a roof to begin with (without dropping him) and then making a hole large enough to lower him on a stretcher. It takes dedication but it also took something else. It took an enormous amount of faith in Jesus. The man’s friends had enough faith in Jesus to know if they could get their friend to him then he would be healed. We should never give up on trying to get our loved ones to the feet of Jesus.
In return, Jesus gave the friends what they were looking for but also gave the crowd and paralyzed man even more. The first order of business for Jesus was not to answer their request immediately. Imagine being one of the friends and doing all that work for your friend to receive physical healing and then Jesus responds by saying his sins are forgiven. Can you imagine what you might think? “Excuse me Jesus. I didn’t do all this work to get him to confession. I did this work to get him the ability to walk.”
Jesus sets out the priority from the beginning. He makes it known that his priority is always the forgiveness of sins and forgiveness comes from faith. Jesus tells them that because of their FAITH he will forgive their sins. Faith in what? Faith in Jesus.
Jesus then answered their petitions by healing the man physically but not simply because they asked. He healed him because of the complaining from Pharisees. The religious elite were the ones complaining that Jesus had forgiven the man’s sins. They did not complain about the hole in the roof, the disruption of the crowd, or anything else. They complained because he said the man’s sins are forgiven.
Faith in Jesus being who He said He is – God – brings about healing both spiritually and physically. Your faith matters. Your prayers may not be answered the way you think they should, but pay close attention – they just might be answered in an even better way.