“And they brought to Him a paralytic lying on a bed. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralytic, ‘Take courage, son; your sins are forgiven.’ And some of the scribes said to themselves, ‘This fellow blasphemes.’ And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, ‘Why are you thinking evil in your hearts? Which is easier to say, “Your sins are forgiven,” or to say, “Get up, and walk”? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins’ -then He said to the paralytic, ‘Get up, pick up your bed and go home.’ And he got up and went home. But when the crowds saw this, they were awestruck, and glorified God, who had given such authority to men.” - Matthew 9:2-7
I often wonder what the paralytic thought when he got home and realized not only did Jesus heal him but also forgave his sins. It’s one thing to be healed from a life-long illness; it’s another thing to be in right standing with God, blameless and free, especially in an era where someone’s ailment was believed to be a byproduct of his/her sin. Yet my frequent questioning of this man’s transformation stems from seeing many miracles deafen what first arrives underneath the surface in our hearts, spirits and souls.
The exchange between Jesus and the scribes seems to be very short, leaving the paralytic very little time to comprehend and internalize the freedom Jesus released over his life as He said, “…your sins have been forgiven.” And even after Jesus told the paralytic to get up, and go home, we are never told whether the scribes were in awe of Jesus’ power because the man’s sins were forgiven or because of the miracle Jesus performed. We just see they they understood Jesus had power and authority. Regardless, I have confidence in saying, for most of us, the miracle has the louder voice in this man’s story - and many times in our story.
How many times do we fervently seek a miracle for nothing more than what the miracle is, in and of itself, allowing the miracle to speak louder than the work Jesus did to make room for it? How often do we turn to God, begging for the miracle that will change our lives and don’t think twice about why we have access to the miracle in the first place? What if the reason we don’t see some miracles manifest themselves in our lives is because we’re too focused on the power in the miracle and not the power behind the miracle?
God’s promised He will do abundantly above what we could ask, think or even imagine (Ephesians 3:20). It’s God’s desire to see us walk in glory and majesty. He wants nothing less than for our lives to represent heaven, but He doesn’t want His plans for our lives to silence His voice and blind our now open eyes. So the question then becomes, how do we position ourselves to receive every miracle God has in store for us?
1. Receive Through Your Identity
The duality of our nature is seen in the miracle of the paralytic. So many of us are positioned as the scribes in the beginning of our faith. We come face to face with Christ not understanding all of His truths, and in God’s faithfulness to reveal we can trust Him, He reveals His glory through the greatest of miracles and breakthroughs. But there comes a time when God calls us to shift from being a scribe and adopt the attitude of the paralytic.
Jesus healed the paralytic to assure the scribes He had the power to forgive sins. Jesus was revealing a truth they did not yet understand because Jesus’ blood had yet to be poured out for their sins. The difference is, we live in a time where we have access to understanding the salvation we receive through the cross. We live under a New Covenant, having been wrapped up in the forgiveness of God. As we grow in our faith and come to understand His greater mysteries, there comes a time when God calls us to no longer seek the miracle so we can trust but to receive the miracle because we trust.
The paralytic was able to receive his healing because his sins were forgiven. While God uses miracles to grab our attention, the truth is, our ability to receive our healing, breakthrough and provision rests solely in the sacrifice of Jesus. When we go to God fixed on this truth - walking in our righteousness - there’s nothing God will withhold from us. As we confidently go before God’s throne, claiming what He so desires to give us out of the forgiveness we’ve received through Christ, the miracle will only magnify the glory of God in our lives. The beauty in our breakthrough won’t silence the work God’s done in us, but rather flow from the conviction that we are co-heirs with Christ seated at the right hand of the throne (Romans 8:17). Who we are in Christ will be strengthened, opening the doors for more of God’s glory to flow in and through us.
2. Comprehend the Cost
I love the irony in Jesus’ question, “What is easier to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, and walk?'“ because while it is harder to say, “Get up, and walk,” the reality is, it was harder for God to forgive the man’s sins. Scripture says God will provide our needs according to His riches and glory (Philippians 4:19). God’s the creator of the universe. Everything we need, He has. There’s an inexhaustible amount of resources in heaven - except for one thing - Jesus. Forgiving our sins was the hardest thing God ever had to do because it cost Him the one thing He couldn’t reproduce. In order for us to be forgiven, God had to give His one and only Son (John 3:16).
I believe there are times our breakthrough deafens the glory of what God has done in us because we forget God already did what was hardest for Him. We look at our lives and question, “How is God going to restore my marriage,'“ or, “I’m in so much debt, how is God going to revive my finances?” We allow our own weakness to distort the power God has over our situations, making what is so simple for God seem so impossible to us. We diminish the power of our salvation within our hearts as we easily accept the price Jesus paid for us on the cross, but still continue to question how God’s going to supply our needs, even though He has everything in heaven.
When we go to God in our desperation for breakthrough remembering God has already done the hardest thing He ever had to do, the miracle we search for will never speak louder than what God’s done in us. God’s glory will be magnified, but our salvation will continue to be the voice speaking to our spirits.
Our lives will begin to reveal the glory of God every day through miracles, signs and wonders when we make our salvation the focal point of every gift God gives us. When we stand before God asking for breakthrough - praying from a place of righteousness - our spirits will always remember it’s only because of Jesus. And as we understand God’s already endured the heart-wrenching moment of abandoning His Son on the cross so we may be forgiven, no miracle will speak louder than the sacrifice He paid.