Holiness Over Healing: What Jesus Really Came to Do
“And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, 7 “Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” And immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to them, “Why do you question these things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the paralytic— “I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.” And he rose and immediately picked up his bed and went out before them all, so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!”” (Mark 2:5-12, ESV)
I think my favorite part about Jesus is that He does very intentional things in a roundabout way. The course of action He takes is almost never the one we would, but it always seems to work out better than what we could have ever forced together in our own strength.
It’s because He sees the whole picture. We see dust, He sees an opportunity for life. We see a storm, He sees an opportunity to teach. We see a cross and a tomb, He sees grace and eternal life. So when the paralytic man in Mark 2 is lowered through the roof to sit right in front of Jesus, everyone expects Jesus to heal this man’s broken body. Instead, Jesus throws us a curveball.
“Son, your sins are forgiven.”
Of course, Jesus can see this man’s brokenness. He is sitting below a hole in the ceiling, where four heads are no doubt peering in, holding their breath, and believing that Jesus is going to help their friend. He knows the lengths this man has taken to get in front of Him, and how badly this man is hoping for healing. But instead of healing the obvious problem at hand, Jesus sees through that and speaks to the hidden, less obvious, more serious issue: the man’s sin.
To us, the paralysis is the more important thing at hand; to Jesus, this man’s soul is more precious. He’d rather see this man clean than see him on His feet. Jesus is more concerned with the condition of this man’s heart, knowing that forgiving his sins will give him a better quality of life than any physical healing or independence. So He speaks to the sin, not the physical illness. He prioritizes something that you or I probably wouldn’t have thought of at the moment.
This act of forgiving his sins takes the crowd back. The rabbis and Pharisees in attendance are insulted by Jesus’ claim to do what is only reserved for God, completely blind to the fact that God Himself sits before them. But Jesus knows not only scripture but the other things Rabbinical law added to scripture. Jesus knew that spiritual leaders at the time both preached and believed that sinful people could not be healed. That’s why Jesus asks them which was easier: healing the paralytic man or forgiving his sins. Of course, forgiving his sins was harder, because that was a power reserved only to God and it was also an act that could not be marked with physical proof.
So Jesus turns to the man and tells him to pick up his mat and go home. Of course, the man is healed and leaves that place forever changed. But what Jesus did is more significant than giving the man a two-for-the-price-of-one deal. He didn’t just forgive His sins and then heal him to shut up the Pharisees. He did one to prove the legitimacy of the other. If the people in the crowd truly believed a sinful man could not be healed, then this man’s healing proved the fact that Jesus had the Godly power to forgive his sins. The fullness of his healing proved his freedom from sin.
So yes, the way was roundabout. The man got something he never asked or expected: to be forgiven before he ever got his heart’s desire. Not only that, but forgiveness made his hearts desire not only possible, but it showed that he was transformed inward as well as outward.
When it comes to healing, I notice two kinds of people: People who are timid allow their doubtfulness to overshadow the faith we need to be healed, and people who pursue healing so relentlessly, that they forget the purpose of healing. Jesus did not come so that people could be healed. He did not come to perform signs and wonders and miracles for the glory of Himself. He came for a purpose much deeper than that: to forgive our sins and restore our relationship with the Father. All that other stuff, was just extra goodness to bless those that bought into what He came to deliver us from.
Yes, healing is available to us today. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. But we cannot hold healing above deliverance. We cannot put healing on a pedestal higher than redemption. If we go to church just to be used as a healer, or to be healed, we’re missing the point. Do I shame anyone who comes near the Father for healing? No, absolutely not. Many people have come to Him to be healed and left with something much greater, simply because their faith in Jesus as The Healer moved Him to heal.
What I’m saying is this: We should want to see healing as the living proof that Jesus has already forgiven. For the doubters, perhaps start with the root of the problem– a person’s sin– before praying for the healing. Remember, forgiveness is harder than healing. If you can lead someone to the feet of Jesus for healing, you can believe in the power to be used to heal that same person.
To the over-eager, remember that healings, miracles, signs, and wonders are not what Jesus is looking for. When you get to heaven, God is not going to look for a list of people you looked impressive in front of or people that you prayed for a miracle with, without pointing them to the One who facilitates the miracle and so much more. Jesus is looking for a Church and a people that value forgiveness, sinlessness, and righteousness over spectacles. He holds the inward transformation of the heart and soul as more precious than the outward awesomeness of restoring the physical body.
Remember: the body is not eternal, the soul is, and Jesus came to save the soul, not the body.