“We’re setting the bar too low when we simply want healing for our physical problems.”
Jay Wolfe, Redefining Healing, from Suffer Strong Podcast.
Mark 2: 1-13, Story taken from NASB.
“Which is easier to say to a paralyzed man? Saying “your sins are forgiven”, or saying “pick your mat up and walk”? Mark 7: 9
When Jesus returned to Capernaum after many works of healing, word got out that He was home. On the Sabbath, many gathered together to hear His teaching, and I suspect there might have been equal parts of followers and skeptics, maybe more skeptics since He was at home. As He was speaking, the room suddenly acquired a fancy new skylight, as people looked up to find the source of the dust in their hair only to lay eyes on the descension of a paralyzed man on a man. This unnamed man, simply indentified as “paralyized” probably was pretty thrilled for the chance to fly, since he couldn’t even walk at that point. Obviously, this guy and his friends had caught wind of Jesus’s healing powers, but Jesus’s immediate response reflects an awareness of a much deeper need than physical healing for this handicapped man: healing for his heart.
Jesus announces, “Son, your sins are forgiven,” without even acknowledging the glaring physical need. At this point, I imagine Mr. Paralyzed in awe of the strange warmth that now exists in his heart, the joy pulsing through his viens, and the feeling of shackles falling off of his wrists and ankles. I imagine peace, like liquid shalom, making its way down his head, all the way to his toes, and the room beginning to glow with the blinding radiance of glory. Any awareness of physical limitations is abolished in his first moment of real, spiritual awakening.
But some of the scribes were sitting there reasoning…” (vs. 6). These pharisees, also known as “theological gatekeepers” of the church, were stuck in their heads, scanning memorized scrolls as they stared, already condemning the entire gathering. (Their eyes have not yet been opened as our paralyzed friend’s eyes just were.) Their self-proclaimed role was to prevent false teaching to enter into their religion. It must be orderly, tidy, structured, and contained. No surprises. In this constant scrutiny, they created an idol out of doctrine and missed the God of the universe when He arrived, unexpectedly and radically, on the margins and among the marginalized.
What right did this Jesus have to proclaim sins forgiven? The audacity!
But Jesus had just healed the paralytic: Right then and there, before He told him to pick up his mat and walk. He forgave his sins and healed his heart. This crippled man did not have to stand up or even sit up to know that he had been fully transformed in places of sickness that he didn’t even know existed.
Because the pharisees needed a spectacle, however, and because Jesus is fully able to offer physical healing, the paralytic took up his mat and walked as Jesus commanded him: Icing on the healing cake!!
After he was sent out and as he walked out along the water’s edge of the seashore, Mr. No-longer-paralyized could not help but share the healing that Jesus had instantly performed in his life.
I wonder, however, which healing was the most significant to him? Was he completely eclipsed by the wonder of the gift of mobility, or was he totally transfixed on that fact that he had been given a new heart and new spirit by the Most High God?
This is simply my personal speculation here: The scripture doesn’t highlight which aspect of healing felt the most profound to this man, but in the context of my experience, the order of healing, and Jesus’ response to the critics, I suspect that the most significant healing in those five minutes was the healing of the paralytic’s heart.
I also suspect that we still are a little mixed up in our healing expectations. The healing of the heart trumps the rest.