When Jesus was healing the paralytic let down through the roof he asked the Pharisees which was easier; to say “Rise and walk” or to say, “You sins are forgiven.” This is an interesting question and shows again both the power of God and how Jesus views the world in a different way to the way that man does.
If we look at things from a human perspective, if a paralytic was before us we would think it impossible to say rise and walk. From a human perspective no man could just say the words “Rise and walk” and expect the paralytic to stand up and wander off. For the people in this world such a thing is not possible for if they could do this there would be no paralytics.
But to say to someone your sins are forgiven is certainly much easier from a human perspective. If someone has committed a sin against you personally, you have the ability and the authority to forgive that person of the sin they did against you and to say, “Your sins are forgiven.” You may not and cannot forgive the sins they commit against others, but where you are involved then it is in your power to forgive sins. This is not the way that the Pharisees saw things of course for they said that Jesus was blaspheming by saying “Your sins are forgiven,” for they believe that only God can forgive sins. And while it is true that only God can take away sins, man does have the ability to forgive sins when those sins are committed against you. Jesus showed us this in the Lord’s prayer and expanded on this in Matthew 6:14-15 saying, “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father also will forgive you; but if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” So it is essential that we forgive sins against us so that we can receive the forgiveness from God. Quite a different approach to what the Pharisees were saying. And of course Jesus IS God so he can forgive and take away all sin anyway, which is what he showed in the scriptures under review here.
So when we look at both these matters from a human perspective, a man might consider there is some possibility to forgive sin where they are the wronged person, but there is no way that any man can say to a paralytic, “Rise and walk.”
But Jesus sees things differently than man does. For Jesus the ability to say to a person “Rise and walk” is no issue at all. He can call upon the power of God who made man in the first place and fix the problems causing paralysis with no effort at all. In the same way he can also not only forgive sins, but take them away and blot them out completely.
But which of these is more important, to say “Raise and walk” or to say, “Your sins are forgiven?” Again the human perspective would be to have the man regain the ability to walk. But in Jesus eyes that is the less important aspect for it is the forgiveness of sin that is important. To be maimed, lame or blind is of no significance at all when compared to being sin free. It is whether a person is a sinner or sin free that will determine whether they can enter the kingdom of God.
Jesus made this point saying in Matthew 18:7-9,
7 “Woe to the world for temptations to sin! For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the man by whom the temptation comes!
8 And if your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to enter life maimed or lame than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into the eternal fire.
9 And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and throw it away; it is better for you to enter life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into the hell of fire.
So whether a person is a paralytic or maimed or lame or blind or anything else of a physical nature is unimportant. It is more important to be set free from sin for this is how you shall receive entry into eternal life in the kingdom of God. And this is what Jesus was showing to the paralytic as well as the people. It is better to be set free from your sin for that has the greater reward, than to have anything of this world including the ability to walk.
But also in this scripture we see Jesus proving his point to the Pharisees and the people. They all believed it was impossible for a paralytic to rise and walk, but Jesus said to them, “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, take up your bed and go home.” (Verse 24 ) By saying this he was saying in effect that because he COULD say to the man to be healed and to rise and walk, it was the proof that he also had the power and authority to take away sins, which was far better and more important. It was proof also that he was not blaspheming but was doing the will and the work of God.
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