Can you imagine what it would have been like to witness this miracle? Four men brought their paralyzed friend on a pallet to a house where they heard Jesus was staying. Upon arrival, they discovered that the house was jammed with people, and many others were standing outside looking in, blocking all the doors and windows. There was no way to get their friend close to Jesus.
But they would not be discouraged. The roofs of the houses in Capernaum were flat, and many of them had stairs that went from the outside of the house up to the roof. So they carried their paralyzed friend to the roof of the house, dug an opening through the clay, and then lowered him on his pallet by ropes right in front of Jesus. It must have taken a lot of time and effort to dig through the hardened clay roof and caused some commotion inside the house when the clay dust began falling from the ceiling. I wonder what the people inside were thinking as they coughed, wiped dust from their eyes, and watched a hole slowly form in the ceiling above their heads.
What was Jesus thinking then? He was thinking about the faith of the men who were going to so much trouble. The Bible says that it is “impossible to please God without faith” (Hebrews 11:6). Because of their faith, the paralyzed man was forgiven and completely healed within seconds. If they hadn’t believed, they would never have gone to so much trouble, and their friend would have remained unforgiven and paralyzed, even though it was obviously God’s will for the man to be forgiven and healed.
Why did Jesus first tell the paralyzed man that his sins were forgiven? No one knows for sure, but perhaps the paralyzed man was coming to Jesus both for healing and forgiveness. Certainly being forgiven of sins is even more important than being healed. Or, perhaps the paralyzed man, because of all his sins, had doubts that he would be healed, so Jesus removed his doubts by assuring him of forgiveness. Or, possibly the man had become paralyzed as a direct result of some sin he had committed. In that case, Jesus took care of the cause before giving the cure.
Regardless, when Jesus told him that his sins were forgiven, it caused quite a stir among the religious teachers who were present. They knew that only God could forgive sins, so Jesus was claiming to be God! They thought He was guilty of blasphemy (saying something that was very offensive to God).
Jesus knew what the religious teachers were thinking, so He proved, right before their eyes, that He had the right to forgive sins, also proving His deity. Anyone could pretend to have the authority to forgive sins because there would be no visible result. But no one can convincingly pretend to have authority to heal paralysis, because the result would be plain for everyone to see. When Jesus instantly healed the paralyzed man, it proved He had authority to heal, and it gave credibility to His claim to be able to forgive sins.
To us, this is one more proof that Jesus was the Son of God. If an average sinful human being claimed to be able to forgive sins, we would know he was blaspheming. But when a virgin-born, sinless, miracle-working person forgives someone’s sins, it’s just one more proof of what we would already suspect: God had become a man!
Q. We read that Jesus actually saw the faith of the four men and their paralyzed friend. How can faith be seen?
A. By actions. The Bible says, “faith is dead without good deeds” (James 2:26). Many people say that they believe in Jesus, but only those who have corresponding actions really do. Sometimes, Christians say they believe certain promises in the Bible, but their contrary actions prove that they really don’t.
Q. Just like this man whom Jesus healed, our sins have been forgiven by Jesus. If we truly believe our sins are forgiven, we will act like forgiven people. How do forgiven people act?
A. At the minimum, they would be happy and grateful to God for their forgiveness, and would show their gratitude by obedience to God.
Application: There has never been another person in history like Jesus. Other people in history may have claimed to forgive sins, but their lives proved they were phony. Any honest person who examines the evidence will be convinced that Jesus was God in the form of a human being.