It was very refreshing to read the Sermon on the Mount with the children. Even though it is harder to understand or remember than narrative stories, I think it gives the children a feel for what God’s kingdom and righteousness is like.
Now we read a passage that we learned before – the story of the paralyzed man lowered down from the roof! It is a fun story to visualize, since it must have been hard for the friends to carry a person on a mat through the stairs and then dig a hole in the roof. The paralytic had great friends to do all that for him!
However the passage focuses more on what Jesus says rather than what the friends have done. The first thing that Jesus says to the paralytic is that he forgives his sins. Even for us who know that Jesus is the Son of God this is confusing. Why is Jesus saying that to the paralytic? What does forgiving sins and healing have to do with one another? Does this mean that the paralytic was a sinful man, and that is why he is sick?
It doesn’t seem like the paralytic was a sinful person, because if he was, he wouldn’t have such great friends to go through all this trouble for him. Nobody would have cared for him, and most likely the people around him would be whispering to Jesus that he was a sinner.
The poor guy just wanted to be healed, but Jesus says your sins are forgiven. Why is Jesus saying that? Because that is more important than being healed! As we see in the passage, the pharisees are upset that Jesus is saying only what God can say. Only God forgives sins, because all sins are against him. The paralytic probably thinks that if he is only able to walk again, he would be a good person. All he needs is to be healed. But Jesus is saying that forgiving sins is more important than that. We must be right with God. We must turn our hearts to God. We must love him with all of our hearts.
Jesus asks a very interesting question to the pharisees. Which is easier to say to the paralytic, your sins are forgiven or take your mat and walk? We may think forgiving sins would be easier, because nobody can see forgiven sins happen. Getting a paralytic to walk is harder, because he needs to prove it right there. However, for Jesus, what is easier?
To perform a miracle is much easier than to forgive sins. Jesus came, so he can forgive our sins. He came to suffer and die, so we may have forgiveness. He had to be judged and rejected by God. He had to bear all of our sins so that we may have receive forgiveness. This was not an easy or simple task like getting the lame to walk.
As we are journeying through Jesus’s life and ministry, we are reminded of Jesus’s mission again, and what a huge sacrifice it was for us.