When Jesus is questioned about his authority to forgive sin, he responds by posing a great question: "Is it easier to say, `Your sins are forgiven,' or `Stand up and walk'?" I love the irony. It’s easier to say sin is forgiven, since you can’t see it, but actually to forgive sin is the harder thing to do. And still, the healing of the paralyzed man could be confirmed visually; you could verify it immediately. Jesus' remarks link the two actions. Healing will reveal His authority to forgive—and in the process answer some questions about who Jesus is. So Jesus says, "So I will prove to you that the Son of Man has the authority on earth to forgive sins . . . Stand up, pick up your mat, and go home."
Jesus has painted himself into a corner. Either the man gets up and walks or he continues to live motionless. Either Jesus' claim comes through, or he is utterly embarrassed. Jesus has put His own identity on the line. Will God vindicate him? Of course, we know the answer is yes. We’ve read the rest of the story. And here’s what I love about this historical event: it proves that Jesus has the power to forgive sin, including yours!
The Bible is very clear about sin. It doesn’t matter how you “grade” your sin, but if you don’t accept that you’ve sinned the problem can’t be fixed. It’s like a man who has a deadly disease. He’s experiencing physical problems but doesn’t know he’s going to die; he’s just afraid that might be the outcome. So what does he do? Does he go see the doctor? No, because going to the doctor would be admitting that he might die and he refuses to accept that. If he doesn’t go see the doctor, then there’s no verdict that he will die. Therefore, in his thinking, he won’t die. But since this sick man refuses to see a doctor, he can’t understand what’s wrong in his life, and so he dies. Sadly, that’s the way some reason.
So it is with sin. God is the doctor. Sin is the disease. And unless we give our sin sick souls to Him, we will die in our sin. The Bible says we’ve all sinned and fallen short of God’s standard of perfection. Have you trusted Jesus with your sin-sickness? He is the only One who can forgive your sin because He is the only One who took your place. If you haven’t, ask Him to forgive you and then stand up, pick up your mat, and go live the way Jesus wants you to live. You don’t need to remain paralyzed by sin. Jesus forgives.