Luke 5:12-26 has two accounts of Jesus healing people, and it makes very clear that there were two kinds of healing Jesus was doing: physical and spiritual.
The plea of the leper struck me especially tonight: he falls facedown and begs, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean!” It reminds me of the centurion—just give the word, and I know! And how incredibly many times have I prayed that myself—God, you can change this in my heart! The leper had no doubt of the sovereignty of God, apparently. And Jesus heals him, and tells him to follow the Law, and to be quiet.
The crowds heard, though, and, because of the news, crowds came to hear Him and to be healed. But Jesus withdrew often to pray, he wasn’t catering to the crowds’ whims about healing them on the outside.
So, one day Jesus is teaching, in the presence of the teachers of the Law—I never noticed before the context of this, He is teaching, in the middle of teaching, when this paralyzed man gets lowered down from the roof.
Now here’s the thing I never noticed: Jesus tells the man his sins are forgiven… because He sees their faith. These people, again, aren’t just here for the healing, but they have actual faith, faith that justifies. They’re believers. And so Jesus says this incredible thing: your sins are forgiven.
They know He’s God, obviously (or else they wouldn’t have faith). So this has got to be a really, really incredible thing. I have all the revelation of the New Testament in my hands, and still if Jesus showed up and said, your sins are forgiven, I would definitely be—overcome.
This was good news, not second-best. That’s the point I always missed when it was a Sunday School lesson; I always figured these men were right there with the Pharisees, scoffing at Jesus’ words and wondering when they were going to get the healing they came for. But Jesus says they had faith, and He tells them their sins are forgiven. To the one who has faith, there is no happier response! This was better than healing.
The Pharisees, though, can’t get past the part where Jesus is claiming to be God. This is outrageous! So Jesus proves Himself, and heals the man as well. Then—I love this part!—the man immediately got up and left ! And went home glorifying God and “everyone” was glorifying God.
So, Jesus’s conduct leads people to glorify the Father; glorious little illustration of how the Trinity is expressed in time.
And the paralytic proves what faith is all about—because he went home worshipping God, not getting distracted by his newfound wellness or turning it to his own ends. He was a whole person on the inside as well as the outside. God heals our hearts as well as our bodies; God can make us clean!