It seems Jesus has struck a nerve. Did you notice that the Pharisees were more shocked that Jesus forgave than that he healed? Jesus showed that forgiveness is more powerful than healing, yet easier to attain and to give.
I had an interesting conversation today with one of the youth that hang out at our house. He had gotten in a fight with one of his friends. He was trying to decide what to do – he wanted the friend to know that the friend was wrong. I suggested that he step into the shoes of his friend for a moment and try to see what the friend sees. I talked him through the scenario, and together we concluded that the friend was probably lashing out from pain and fear. The friend was likely feeling the pain of the argument, and fear that he was losing a close friend. Once he was able to see from the friend’s perspective, he felt compassion for the friend, and no longer desired to fight to be right. He learned that being right was not as important as expressing compassion and love for his friend. He reached out with kindness and understanding, and the friend apologized for his role in the fight. This brave youth’s willingness to extend compassion gave the friend courage to seek forgiveness.
Maybe this is our Achilles heel. Where the Pharisees were surprised to learn that forgiveness was more powerful than healing, perhaps we have a hard time learning that forgiveness is more valuable than being right.
One day, while he was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting nearby (they had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem); and the power of the Lord was with him to heal. Just then some men came, carrying a paralysed man on a bed. They were trying to bring him in and lay him before Jesus; but finding no way to bring him in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down with his bed through the tiles into the middle of the crowd in front of Jesus. When he saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven you.” Then the scribes and the Pharisees began to question, “Who is this who is speaking blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” When Jesus perceived their questionings, he answered them, “Why do you raise such questions in your hearts? Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you’, or to say, ‘Stand up and walk’? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the one who was paralysed – “I say to you, stand up and take your bed and go to your home.” Immediately he stood up before them, took what he had been lying on, and went to his home, glorifying God. Amazement seized all of them, and they glorified God and were filled with awe, saying, “We have seen strange things today."