Jesus’ miracle of healing the paralyzed man whom his friends lowered down through the roof, as recorded in Luke 5:17-26, has always been one of my favorites. But I have often wondered why Jesus chose this miracle to do more than just heal someone physically. He used this miracle to show that he also has the authority to forgive sins.

Why not choose another miracle? Why not forgive the sins of the blind man or the demon possessed or the countless other people whom he healed? Was it just a random choice where Jesus decided, “Okay, now I better do this miracle and throw in a teaching about my authority to forgive sins”?

Then I read something recently that talked about the paralysis of sin. Think about it. We commit a sin. We are not proud of what we have done but we feel like we are trapped by it. We are too proud to confess it. We can’t take it back. We can’t pretend like it never happened. We can’t seem to move on. Sin has paralyzed us.

David describes what I mean in Psalm 32:3-4:

For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away
through my groaning all day long.
[4] For day and night your hand was heavy upon me;
my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. (ESV)

There are even times when people do things that are so sinful that they end up getting put in jail. Jesus talks about this in terms of slavery and freedom in John 8:34-36:

Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. 35 The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. (ESV)

So Jesus chose his healing of the paralyzed man as the opportunity to teach about his authority to forgive sins because of the paralyzing influence of sin. Forgiveness cures the paralysis of sin, allowing us to move forward again.

And Jesus showed his authority to forgive sins by healing the paralyzed man. He told the paralyzed man to get up, pick up his bed and go home, and the man did so.

Authority is crucial when it comes to forgiveness. Anyone can go around saying, “Your sins are forgiven,” but how do we know our sins are truly forgiven where it counts, before almighty God, our Father in heaven?

When Jesus forgives sins directly, as he did with the paralyzed man, those sins are most definitely forgiven. Jesus then delegates his authority to forgive sins to his disciples on the very day he rose from the dead:

[21] Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” [22] And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. [23] If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.” (John 20:21-23 ESV)

As Jesus’ disciples today we continue to possess the authority to forgive sins in the name of Jesus, and those sins will be forgiven before our Father in heaven. We have not been given authority to rule over earthly affairs but we have been given a much greater authority, the authority to free people from the paralysis of their sins by forgiving them.

Psalm 32 shows that David gets it:

[5] I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity;
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. (ESV)

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