UPDATED Today’s Spiritual Food for Thought is an updated version of AMI QT Devotional first posted on August 16, 2013.
Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend
“Which Comes First: Healing or Forgiveness?”
One day Jesus was teaching, and Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there. They had come from every village of Galilee and from Judea and Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was with Jesus to heal the sick. 18 Some men came carrying a paralyzed man on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus. 19 When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus. 20 When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.” 21 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.”
Maybe the paralytic, having long given up on himself, was also paralyzed in his spirit.
Perhaps he just simply went along with what his well-meaning friends were trying to do for him. Or could it be that the paralytic’s faith was included in “their faith”? Living in America where individualism has become more important than the community, it may be extremely hard for us to understand “their faith.”
But one thing is certain: everyone was somewhat disappointed or angry when Jesus said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven” (v. 20). Some of the religious leaders were upset since Jesus declared only what God has the authority to do, which is to forgive. Initially, the rest of the crowd was probably disappointed, since they really expected to see something spectacular, such as a miraculous healing. Of course, the paralytic and his four friends were beyond feeling disappointed—actually, devastation is more like it.
So then, why did forgiveness come first? I need not add anything to Jesus’ response to that question: “But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins” (Lk. 5:24). We all want to see something more spectacular in life, like miraculous healings, but foremost, Jesus wants us to see and experience His authority to forgive so that we can be reconciled to God. Have you been forgiven?
Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for forgiving my sin in Christ. Thank You for the previous gift of being forgiven forever in Your Son. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Song of Song 6-7