Let’s Talk About Problems
by Matthew Statham
“…And when He returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that He was at home. And many were gathered together, so that there was no more room, not even at the door. And He was preaching the word to them. And they came, bringing to Him a paralytic carried by four men. And when they could not get near Him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above Him, and when they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay. 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, “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!”
I want you take a brief second and think about the biggest problem you’re currently facing. I’m sorry for causing a brief moment of panic or anxiety, but let’s walk through this together. For some, it could be job related; that project you just completed that didn’t get the recognition you thought it deserved. Or maybe things are a little closer to home and problems right now revolve around your family life. The kids have been unruly and stubborn for years or you’re not connecting with your spouse. Right now you may feel as if life is spiraling out of control and it doesn’t look like that’s changing anytime soon, if ever.
Whatever your problem currently is, hold onto it. Hold that feeling because I want to tell you a story about a man with a very big problem, and I want you to feel for him.
There was a man who lived with a problem unlike most of the problems we face today. He constantly suffered in his town and with his state of life because, you see, he was born without the ability to walk. Being paralyzed meant that life was not just inconvenient for him but nearly impossible. He relied almost entirely on others, his friends and family, to take care of him. He was utterly devastated because life could never truly be satisfying
But one day, he heard of a chance to have his life changed and his paralysis healed forever. Rumors spoke of a person who was smarter and greater than any doctor; a man who had become quite legendary because against all rationale, he was a miracle worker.
The man called upon his friends and pleaded with them to help this one last time. He was utterly desperate to see this miracle worker and for him, this might be his only chance to have his problem fixed.
Let’s pause for a second. If I offered you the chance to fix your biggest problem, would you take it? How far would you be willing to go to fix that problem?
Remember how I said this man was truly desperate? Well, listen to what he does because of what he believes about his problem.
“And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him, and when they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay.”
Now let’s break this down. This man believed something about his paralysis. He believed it was not just a hindrance on life, not just a bug bite of a problem. No, this man believed that this was earth shattering, the kind of “no one can love me if they knew I struggled with this” problem. His entire value system was wrapped up around his physical ailments.
If you don’t believe me, read into the context here. When was the last time you demolished the roof of a stranger’s house because there was someone so important inside whom you had to see? This man was desperate.
If this is your first time hearing this story, you’re probably expecting this to happen next: Jesus immediately healed his legs, life was amazing, and everyone got to see that Jesus is awesome. It makes sense. Jesus had to heal this man because—who else believed so much that he had someone else’s house demolished because he believed that the one person who could heal him was inside?
But of course, this doesn’t happen. When I really read through this story, I actually got a little mad. I wanted the man to be healed. He’s the protagonist who deserved a break. This is Frodo from Lord of the Rings doing the right thing, so let’s see a victory, please.
Then Jesus said something so offensive and so revealing about Himself and about this man:
And when Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”
This is maddening! It seems that this man came all this way only to have Jesus kind of pat him on the back and give him a nice farewell benediction. He probably thought, “I don’t want to be forgiven, I want to walk!”
Here is why we need to hear Jesus say these words. We are the subject of this story. We are the paralyzed man. We believe that our problem is so incredibly big, and we need God to fix it. Unfortunately, just like the paralyzed man, we miss the actual problem we have. All of the physical problems, the struggles we face, the injustice we see in our city, the utter pain that we will feel because of the brokenness around us—all of that pales in comparison if we haven’t found forgiveness in Christ.
When Jesus sees the man, He doesn’t see an invalid— a term once used to describe a person with physical disabilities. And how terrible it is that we, including this man, see that and believe it to be his biggest problem. Jesus, however, looks into his heart and sees its need to be healed. Jesus, in all authority to forgive sins, pronounces to all that this man is redeemed.
Just like the paralyzed man, we need Jesus to put into perspective the order of our problems. We need to see the depths of our hearts reflected against the perfection of Christ; like Isaiah who felt the reality of his sin because of God’s glory.
We need to hear those incredible words that heal.
“Son, Daughter, Child, your sins are forgiven.”
About the Author
Ministry Leader of Elementary
Park Cities Presbyterian Church