In these days when the cost of medical procedures are so outrageously expensive and the cost of drugs is skyrocketing, I cannot help but ask the question, "Are we treating the symptom or the disease?"
Mark 2:1-12 tells a remarkable story that in my opinion has an extremely subtle word too easily missed. Four friends bring a man who is paralyzed to Jesus for healing. When they cannot reach Jesus due to the heavy crowd of people blocking the way, they go to the rooftop of the house, tear open a hole and lower the stretcher with their friend on it down through the hold placing him in front of Jesus.
The interesting piece of the story that grabs my attention is the obvious desire of the man and his four friends that the paralyzed man will be healed and made to walk again. BUT, and this is a big BUT, Jesus ignores the obvious and speaks directly to the man's real need which was the need for forgiveness.
It is amazing to recognize how debilitating guilt, anger, and resentment can be. It has a crippling effect on those who nurse such feelings. So, it isn't any wonder when Jesus saw the paralyzed man he saw through the surface to a deeper need. It was a need for forgiveness. Jesus then spoke to that need rather than the obvious.
He said, "Son, your sins are forgiven." (NIV) Of course the religious leaders were upset by these words. "Why does this fellow (Jesus) talk like that? Who can forgive sins but God?" Jesus' response was, "Which is easier to say to the paralytic, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or 'Rise, take up your mat and walk?'"
This is an intriguing question. I believe that in reality it is easier to physically heal someone than it is to bring about spiritual healing. Forgiveness is at the heart of spiritual healing. One of the most difficult things that we as human beings have to do is to forgive others and to forgive ourselves.
This is the point of this story. You will be able to walk if you are forgiven, if you forgive those for whom you hold resentment, and if you are able to forgive yourself. Listen closely and you, too, will hear the words, "Your sins are forgiven."
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Rev. Bob Ball is the Senior Pastor of Epworth United Methodist Church in Toledo. Epworth is an exciting, growing, and dynamic church with a heart for missions and a passion to grow in its faith in Christ and service to the world. If you are looking for a church where people are friendly and welcoming, we invite you to try Epworth.
Epworth offers three Sunday morning services: at 8:30 a.m., our blended worship service brings together a traditional worship style and a contemporary flair. Our traditional worship service begins at 9:45 a.m., followed by the contemporary worship service at 11. We are located at the corner of Valleyview and Central Avenue in Toledo, across from Wildwood Metropark.
Epworth United Methodist Church
3077 Valleyview Drive
Toledo, OH 43615-2237
Telephone : 419-531-4236
FAX : 419-531-7487