“For which is easier to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’?” v.5
If we are going to talk about healing we must clearly understand the emphasis (and lack of emphasis) placed on it in the NT. Here in Matthew, Jesus’ main concern is not to heal a man but to forgive his sins. Healing is secondary EVEN THOUGH it was primary for the paralytic and his friends. The paralytic came to Jesus for physical healing, but Jesus gave the paralytic inner healing, a true forgiveness of sins. Would Jesus give the paralytic what the paralytic wanted or what he needed? Think about it. If you came to Jesus with a request and he knew there was something far better and far more important than your request, wouldn’t you want him to do it? Wouldn’t you want that to be of utmost importance and priority? Wouldn’t you want that to outweigh all other concerns that you had initially brought? I hope so. But that’s not always the case.
Too often we come to Jesus with our list of things we need done, failing to realize that he has his own list of priorities for us. Jesus saw forgiveness as a priority for the paralytic not healing. What was the paralytic thinking when Jesus uttered the words, “Your sins are forgiven” and stopped there? Disappointment? Frustration? Confusion? How much are we like that? We come to Jesus, and he gives us a great gift. But it wasn’t what we wanted or expected. What’s our reaction? Perhaps it is similar to the way that the paralytic might have reacted.
Christianity isn’t about getting what we want from Jesus. It’s about Jesus giving to us what he knows is best for us. Our desires our secondary because we don’t easily understand what truly is best for us.
But what an element of grace we have here. Jesus addresses the paralytic’s primary need and then goes on to address his secondary need. He forgives the paralytic’s sins and then heals the paralytic. What a gracious God that here gives not only what the man needs but what the man wants.