Jesus performed many miracles during his three-year ministry, from turning water into wine at the beginning to the second miraculous catch of fish towards the end. He also healed people, lots of people, with approximately two-thirds of his recorded miracles involving healing, and that doesn’t include casting out evil spirits or raising from the dead.
So, healing people was important to Jesus, important enough for him to give two-thirds of his supernatural, miraculous, transforming energy to it. But time and time again he used the opportunity to heal someone as a practical way of teaching us something else. Something that is as equally relevant for us today as it was 2,000 years ago.
Reference/read: Matthew 9:1-18, Mark 2: 1-12, Luke 5:17-26
Key word/phrase: “Friend”
Surprise: In all the commotion, Jesus saw the man’s faith first and forgave him his sins.
Key teaching verse: v2b (Matthew’s Gospel)
‘When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.”’
To Jesus, the man’s and his friends’ faith was the most important thing, this defined his eternal status. He saw the person first and called him “friend”, how amazing is that? His disability wasn’t as important to Jesus as his faith and he only restored the use of the man’s legs to prove to the doubters that he had the authority to forgive sins too. That isn’t to trivialise the man’s disability, or diminish the impact on him of his healing, but to emphasise that in eternal terms faith is more important than healing.
- Why was the man’s and his friends’ faith most important to Jesus?
- Why do we so often see the disability first and not the person and their faith?
- What does it mean to be like the mans’ friends, letting nothing stop us helping our disabled friends to access church?
Mark Arnold is the Additional Needs Ministry Director for Urban Saints’ pioneering additional needs ministry, including training, consultancy, conference speaking and resourcing. Find out more and help support this ministry here.
Find out more:
Read Mark’s blog post, ‘Faith More Important Than Healing?’ to further unpack this story.
You can also watch the video of a talk given by Mark at Frinton Free Church that shares more about this teaching.
And a contemporary re-telling of the story is here.