Do you ever wonder if God has forgotten you? Do you know what it’s like to feel worthless, broken and defective? Deep down do you question whether God is punishing you for a past mistake? Well, that’s how the paralyzed man in Mark 2:1-12 felt. He was paralyzed by something in his past that hindered him from coming into the presence of Jesus. There are lots of things that paralyze us so that we feel that we can’t move forward; many things that prevent us from entering into the presence of Jesus. Sometimes we find ourselves paralyzed by the guilt of the past. The problem is that our guilt has never been touched by the forgiveness that Jesus offers us in the gospel.
Guilt comes to us in two ways: 1) a legal guilt before the Holy Judge that comes from the violation of His law and 2) the guilty feelings of remorse that result from what we’ve done. The legal guilt is the real problem but the heavy burden of carrying guilt or the feelings of being dirty, unwashed and defective is often the experience. Thankfully, the Cross takes care of the legal guilt and the guilty feelings. Jesus invites you on a journey back into the ruins of your past to pronounce over you, “Not Guilty” before the Judgment Seat. Hear His strong voice say with authority to you, “There is now no condemnation for you because you are MINE.” After His declaration, He takes off the Judge’s robe to reveal the clothing of a servant grasping a basin and a towel. As He washes you, hear His tender voice say to you, “I wash you with my blood and you shall be whiter than snow. You will have a clean heart and your sins I will see no more. You can now live in joy and gladness in my presence. I will never leave you or turn my back on you. Let the joy of My Salvation be restored to you and may you walk with confident support into future obedience through the power of my Spirit” (Cf. Romans 8:1-4; Hebrews 13:5; Psalm 51:7-12) Our only hope to walk again is to encounter the Savior who gives us Grace to Live Today and Bright Hope for Tomorrow.
“Do you want to heal it or just numb the pain?” That’s what the Pharmacist asked a 12- year-old John Estorge in response to complaints of burning mouth ulcers. Not being a fan of pain, I contemplated the question for a moment thinking, “Who cares about healing, I just want it to stop hurting… I’ll take the topical anesthetic please!”
I’ve discovered this same principle working in my children who don’t care for healing treatments for their skinned knees, or to endure the necessary pain associated with the extraction of a splinter, they just want band-aids. Sadly, this is often our typical response to the difficulties in our lives even as we pray. We don’t typically think that our real problem is the principle of sin living within us. Instead we blame circumstances or find fault with others as the real problem. We pray, “God, please change these circumstances, give me relief to my pain, and please change the way this other person acts.” While we anticipate that the remedy will come by a relief of our pain, a change in circumstances or the repentance of others, we fail to identify the real issue: our own personal sin and miss the real cure: forgiveness of our sins and getting closer to Jesus.
We are often like children who just want the punishment to end, rather than seeking forgiveness for the offense. Or we’re like the paralyzed man and his friends who sought the healing of a physical limitation instead of the greater need, the forgiveness of His sins and drawing closer to Christ (Cf. Mark 2:1-12). The paralyzed man was surprised by what His encounter with the Savior delivered to him. Jesus went beyond everyone’s expectations to give more than what was requested to get to the root of the problem: “When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven.'”
Jesus bestows health to the body, beginning with not only the removal of the cause and origin of disease, but in meeting his and our REAL NEED. We all need this ongoing inner healing of our hearts so we can experience the forgiveness of our sin, the resolving of our guilt and shame, the mitigation of our our anger, and the settling of our minds in the midst of fears. This only happens as we get closer to the Lord who through His Son, has healed you of the only disease that can really kill you, your sin. He is the Only One who has the authority and power to provide the only real cure, forgiveness. What we need so much more than a numbing of the pain or a change in circumstances is getting our hearts closer to a God who has declared us Right with Him through the work of His Son.
A widely stated reason for rejecting Christianity is that many believe that ‘the church is full of hypocrites.’ (See 2008 U.S. Survery). My answer to this challenge has been, “Yes, you’re right, the church has many hypocrites.” (See: The Church is full of hypocrites). By design the church is a “mixed body” of both authentic and fake christians like lettuce and weeds growing in the same garden which will be sorted out in the end. The rest of my answer is, “No, you’re incorrect, the church isn’t really full of hypocrites.” (See: A “Hypocrite” or A “Work in Progress.”) While some in the church are pretending to be something they’re not, others are just a “work in progress” being slowly crafted into the people God wants them to be.
The Visible Church, the one we see with our eyes, is a mixed body of sinners gathered together while the ultimate responsibility for her judgment rests in a gracious, merciful and sovereign God. It is His exclusive right to decide who is real and who is not. Likely the best comparison for the church today is of a hospital where some await diagnosis of their condition, some hear yet don’t accept their diagnosis clinging only to illusions of health while others are diagnosed, treated and move toward health. The only people who reside in a hospital are those who are sick and those who are healing from sickness. Commonly, people go to the hospital when they cannot help themselves, desperate to have their condition diagnosed and to receive treatment and care that will nurse them to health. Ultimately when our time comes, all patients who have received and believed their correct diagnosis, have sought and received the only cure for their condition and continue to trust the Physician will be completely cured in their discharge.