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Was the paralyzed man paralyzed because of his sin?

by Stephen Davey

Carlos from North Carolina asks, “When Jesus healed the paralytic man lowered down before him, and Jesus said his sins are forgiven, does that mean he became a paralytic because he lived a life of sin?”

Three of the four Gospel accounts record the miracle where some friends brought a paralytic man on a mat to be healed by Jesus. They couldn’t reach Jesus because of the crowd, so they went up on the roof, removed the tiles, and lowered the man down to Jesus.

Luke 5:20 records Jesus’ response: “And when he saw their faith, he said, “Man, your sins are forgiven you.”

At that time, it was widely believed by the Pharisees, the common Jews, and even many of Jesus’ own disciples that any person who was afflicted with a physical ailment was being directly punished by God for a particular sin.

But just because Jesus forgives this man’s sins before He heals him does not mean Jesus is forgiving a particular sin that caused this man to be paralyzed.

Correct theology sees all ailments, sicknesses, natural disasters and evil as the result of humankind’s universal sins, but there is no connection in this text that this man’s condition was a direct punishment for a sin.

The purpose of Jesus making this declaration publicly before all those gathered was to communicate that what they all perceived as this man’s ailment—his physical paralyzation—was not this man’s biggest problem. In fact, this man’s greatest need was the same need everyone in that room—those who could walk—also had: forgiveness from their sins and a restored relationship with God.

What Jesus essentially says to this man and to the crowd is, “You see this paralyzed man, and think he will be restored when he can walk again; but I say to you, none of you will be truly restored until your sins are forgiven by God.”

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Janet says:
Thank you for this clarification and teaching!