Jesus was back in Capernaum on a spiritual version of family business. He was furthering his heavenly Father’s plan to restore the rift between himself and his people. First, God had given the Law to help us draw closer to him. Then, he sent the prophets to teach us that God doesn’t judge by appearances but looks into the heart. And now, he has sent his Son to heal our hearts through the gift of forgiveness.
On this day, Jesus is greeted by men carrying their paralyzed friend to him on a stretcher. He is impressed by their faith in his power to heal, and while he is eager to restore this man’s body, he is more eager to heal his soul. And so, before he even mentions physical healing, he tells the man, “Your sins are forgiven” (Matthew 9:2).
By focusing on forgiveness, Jesus wasn’t dismissing the man’s affliction as irrelevant. Rather, he wanted to demonstrate how important mercy is—and how ready God is to extend that mercy. The man hadn’t even repented, but Jesus still forgave him!
Jesus also wanted them to see that this fellow’s paralysis was not the result of some sin that the man or his family may have committed—a common idea of that day. No, God has mercy on everyone; no one is outside of his care. Even this fellow, living on the margins of society, deserved the same amount of attention as his strong, capable friends and neighbors—maybe even more.
Just as the man’s forgiveness seemed outlandish to the crowd, so was his physical healing. Before their very eyes, his legs were transformed: new muscle mass appeared, and ligaments and tendons connected. Who knows? Maybe even bones materialized out of nowhere!
Imagine yourself on that man’s stretcher. What kind of healing are you seeking? Jesus knows what you need, both physically and spiritually. He sees all of your pain as well as your sin, and he wants to set you free. Give him the freedom to remove whatever obstacles he finds—whatever may be blocking your relationship to him and his father.
“Jesus, I believe in your power to heal and restore everyone who comes to you. Help me open myself to your merciful gaze.”