"He needs to be healed!" came Cameron's response.
"So that's what Jesus is going to do, right?" I asked.
"OK, let's keep reading." Picking up the story again in verse 20 of the 5th chapter of Luke we read:
When Jesus saw their faith, he said, "Friend, your sins are forgiven."
This man's deepest need wasn't to be healed, but to be forgiven. We need to sit back and think about this for a minute. The man is obviously physically messed up. He is obviously desperate for relief and healing. But Jesus looks past the 'obvious' and sees a man who is paralyzed by sin, his soul limp and atrophied from being held in those powerful bonds for far too long. And so, Jesus heals his soul, right there on the spot.
Of course, when we keep reading we see that Jesus did subsequently heal his physical body. We can assume that this man enjoyed a 'non-paralyzed' body for the remainder of his 70 or 80 years on this earth...until his body broke again, permanently. Had physical healing been all this man received from Jesus, he would have been cheated by the One who was capable of giving him what he needed most.
And so I've been meditating more on the incredible truth that I have been forgiven. My greatest need has been absolutely taken care of. Everything else is gravy. So what were those problems I'll be facing today that kept me up half the night? At the end of my 70 or 80, they won't matter...but the fact that my sins have been forgiven will be everything.
The more time I spend chewing on the eternal implications of being forgiven, the more of an impact it makes on my life in the here and now. For years, the fact that I was forgiven was something in my distant past, a theological fait accompli. But, by putting myself in Luke's story, in the place of the paralytic, imagining Jesus saying those life-giving words to me...it's simply overwhelming...and it impacts how I relate to the next thing that happens to me. A few weeks ago, I got harassed by a drunk guy (not a terribly uncommon occurrence where I live). In the course of his tirade, he found it to his liking to haul off and hit me. Not exactly what I had planned for my evening...but as I thought about this guy, I just couldn't stop seeing myself in him. And that enabled me, for perhaps the first time in my life, to literally turn the other cheek. Perhaps I'm broken in different ways than he is, but I'm still broken...and I would be paralyzed by sin if it weren't for Jesus saying to me,
"Friend, your sins are forgiven."
I am forgiven...something that makes everything else I have pale in value. I am forgiven, my deepest need has been met, life is safe.
My sin, oh the bliss of this glorious thought
My sin not in part, but the whole
Is nailed to the cross
And I bear it no more