If only we could get our friend to Jesus,” the four men thought, “he could be healed!” With this motivation, and with faith in the ability of Christ, the four men started carrying their paralyzed friend on his cot down the dusty path to the home in Capernaum where Christ was teaching.
Luke, the physician, describes the man as being “taken with a palsy.” It was a disease that had worked on the inside, taking hold of him and taking away his ability to walk and work as God had intended. He was left in this helpless condition, depending on others to meet his needs. Similarly, sin has taken hold of us, ruining our usefulness to God as Romans 3:12 states, “All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one” (ESV). Like the paralyzed man, Romans 5:6 describes us as being “without strength.”
Turning our minds to the Man in the house, we see Christ – the sinless Son of God, the One with authority not only to heal the body but, more importantly, to forgive sins. What a joy for sinners to know that there is one Man who can forgive sins! “The Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins” (Mark 2:10).
Inside the house were Pharisees and doctors of the law sitting by and critically judging every word He spoke. Outside the house the multitude crowded around to see Him and to hear His words. Undeterred, the four men carried their friend up onto the roof, broke through the tiling, and lowered the cot down in front of the Lord. The house that had been crowded with people suddenly had room for one more. The Lord always makes room for a sinner to come. Jesus said, “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:32). He added, “Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out” (John 6:37). What compassion from the lips of Christ when He addressed this paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven” (Mark 2:5, ESV).
Oh, how precious are the words to sinners today, “Your sins are forgiven.” Little did this man know that, for his sins to be forgiven, Christ must one day suffer for sins. “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God” (1Peter 3:18).
How could anyone know that his sins were forgiven? “Who can forgive sins, but God only?” was the critical reasoning of the Pharisees. The words of Christ were enough to forgive his sins, but the visible proof of His power was evident when He said, “But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power upon earth to forgive sins … Arise, and take up thy couch, and go into thine house” (Luke 5:24).
To the amazement of all, he picked up his bed and walked out of the house glorifying God. If Horatio Spafford’s hymn had been written back then, he could have walked down the dusty road singing:
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,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
Have your sins been forgiven?