Mark’s gospel tells us about a paralyzed man who Jesus healed. Jesus was teaching in a room so crowded that the man’s friends had to make a hole in the roof and lower him down on his bed. But then, Jesus’ first words to him were, “Your sins are forgiven.”
Some in the crowd were astonished that Jesus declared that He could forgive sins, so He followed that up with: “So that you know I have the power to forgive sins, take up your bed and walk.”
Of course, the man did just that. But have you ever wondered why the first thing Jesus gave him was forgiveness? Wasn’t his most obvious need healing? Maybe to you and me, who put such weight in how we are faring in this life, and perhaps even to the paralyzed man that day. But Christ, who sees all eternity, knew that he needed forgiveness most.
I read this story again a few days after receiving the news of someone’s death. Another family without a parent. More hurting. And my heart asked, Jesus, why don’t You heal us now? How can You allow us to be so broken? I think I will feel that a little bit every time I hear sad news, and that’s okay. But catching this line in the story got me thinking that maybe I have things the wrong way around.
I really want to be okay now. And I want all the people to be okay. I want healing, provision, peace, safety, joy, and all the things that make life okay. But Jesus already made it okay when He offered forgiveness for sins, just like He offered the lame man healing for his spirit even before healing for his body.
This year, there has been so much loss in my little world that it’s forced me to think more along these lines. Is my hope really in heaven, or do I have my stock in this life? Jesus warned that even His followers would continue to have trouble in this world, and we are going to continue to run into loss, death, and suffering. But He followed that up with the promise that He had overcome, and that He would help them—and us—do the same.
That’s how we can be of good cheer.