I am going to tell you about a time when Jesus healed a man who could not walk.
Jesus was visiting at the home of his friend, Peter and the house was full of people who had come to see him. They had heard that Jesus could heal the sick, which they had not seen or heard of in a very long time. So many came to see and hear Jesus.
They were all crowded into the house when pieces of dirt and straw started falling on them from the ceiling. They looked up and they saw a hole in the roof growing bigger and bigger. Then one by one, four faces looked down into the room. Jesus stopped and watched too as he saw a bed being lowered down with ropes held by the four men he had seen on the roof. It wasn't a bed like we sleep in. Maybe it was more like a sleeping bag you would take camping, with ropes at each of the corners.
On the mattress or blankets, was a man...just lying there. Jesus said nothing as he was slowly lowered right in front of him.
You can imagine people shuffling to one side to make room for him. That's why they lowered him down through the roof. The house was so crowded they could not get in by the door. Maybe there were people outside crowding around the door to hear.
They heard that Jesus could heal sick people and their friend was sick so they brought in and got him inside the only way they could. He just lay there on the floor in front of Jesus. The friends looked down through the hole to watch. They had done all they could and now it was up to Jesus.
Imagine lying on the floor in a crowded room. Everyone is staring at you. Jesus is looking down at you.
Maybe people are whispering about how you got in the room. I wonder what Peter thought. He had to fix the roof after everyone was gone.
And then Jesus says something.
He says, "It's going to be all right. Your sins are forgiven"
People in the room start to mutter to one another...."how can he say his sins are forgiven?"
"who is he anyway to do that?"
"only God can forgive sins"
Why would he say that?
You have to understand something about how people believed in those days.
If you had a bad illness that didn't go away, then it was believed that you had done something bad and God was punishing you for it. We know God doesn't do that. It's funny though, even now sometimes when something bad happens you still hear people ask if God is punishing them for something.
He might have said to them, "God isn't punishing him". He did say that to a group of people another time when they thought another man was blind because he did something bad. He told them it was not true. God didn't do those sorts of things.
And if even if he said it to them they might not have believed him anyway.
But he didn't say that this time.
He might have said, "you all have sinned, so what makes you think this man is any worse than the rest of you?"
He did say that another time when something bad happened to some people.
When something bad happens we should not think it is God who is doing it.
God doesn't do those kind of things.
But he didn't say that either.
With everyone thinking he was a very bad person maybe the sick man thought he was too.
Or maybe he had worried himself sick over something. You can do that, you know.
Sometimes if you are so upset about something, you can get so worried that you make yourself sick.
But Jesus knew he was feeling bad as well as not being able to walk.
What Jesus did say was, "Its going to be all right. Your sins are forgiven"
I wonder what the man thought, lying there looking up at Jesus. We don't know what he thought, but we know what other people thought. Many of them were not happy. They didn't know Jesus was God's son who could forgive sins.
So Jesus asked those people a question. He said, "Tell me what is easier; to say your sins are forgiven, or to say, get up and walk"?
Now before I tell you what Jesus did, or how I would answer the question, what do you think?....
My opinion is that it is easier to say "your sins are forgiven" I have two reasons.
1. reason number one: a person could say "your sins are forgiven" and how can you disprove that? It's a matter of opinion and
belief. The people there were angry saying, "only God can forgive sins, but they could not prove that the man's sins were
not forgiven. On the other hand, if you say to someone who is paralyzed, "get up and walk", then you are on the spot. The
person either will or will not walk. It will be obvious whether you have the authority or not. And who could do that just by
speaking without God's authority? No one.
2. reason number two. It is easy to say to someone "your sins are forgiven" because we know that God always wants to
forgive sins. Now that is providing the person wants them forgiven. Anyone can tell someone their sins are forgiven if
they really want them forgiven and are sad about them. In fact, that is something everyone here can do and should do.
You can do it with certainty knowing that Jesus came to bring us forgiveness.
It would be too bad if you knew someone who had sadness because of the life they lived or things they had done,
especially when you can say with 100% certainty, "Jesus wants to forgive your sins and he will if you let him".
What did Jesus do then?
He knew many of them did not believe he could forgive sins so he showed them. He said, "so that you can know that
I have that authority," then he said to the sick man, "get up and walk". If Jesus did not have God's authority the man
could never have walked, but he did walk. Jesus healed his illness and gave him something even better--forgiveness.
OK then, what should we do?
Remember the four friends who dug a hole in the roof to bring their friend to Jesus?
That's what God wants us to do.
Not dig a hole in the roof, but bring people to Jesus.
And how do we do that?
By praying for them first.
Ask God what to do and how to do it. This is God's plan.
Then when you have the opportunity, invite the person to something special that the church will be doing
that they might find interesting.
And the best way of all is to tell them yourself that God loves them and wants to give them life free from worry and to live with him forever.
Do you think Jesus was upset because they made a hole in the roof?
I don't think so.
In fact, I think he must have been very pleased with them that they cared enough for their friend and that they trusted him to help their friend.
We can do the same. Care enough and trust Jesus to help.
Let's pray now for some people we think Jesus can help.
Preached June 13, 2004
Dr. Harold McNabb
West Shore Presbyterian Church
Victoria, British Columbia
Online Resources Consulted