Mark 2: 4-12
Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralysed man, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven.’
Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, ‘Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?’
Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, ‘Why are you thinking these things? Which is easier: to say to this paralysed man, “Your sins are forgiven,” or to say, “Get up, take your mat and walk”? But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.’So he said to the man, ‘I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.’ He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, ‘We have never seen anything like this!’
The paralysed man came to Jesus looking just one thing: healing. He wanted to walk again. And Jesus would heal him, He would take care of his physical need, but before that Jesus wanted to take care of his greater need and that was for forgiveness of his sins.
It wasn’t the man’s priority but it was Jesus' priority. His spiritual need came before his physical need.
As a Christian and church leader, I am passionate about us meeting people’s physical needs whatever they may be. It might be healing in their bodies, it might providing food or clothing, it could be helping them get jobs or fixing up their houses. There’s so many physical needs all around us. But we must never ever forget that their greatest need is spiritual, their greatest need is for Jesus Christ and the forgiveness of sins that only comes in and through him.
This is so important because we live at a time when the church worldwide more than ever is reaching out to the practical needs of people with acts of love. I love that, it's long overdue. But my fear is this: that we think if we are just nice enough to people, then that will be enough. If we look after their immediate physical needs, that’s all God expects of us. That is simply not true and it’s not biblical.
Our primary calling as a church, as the body of Christ, is to point people to a saving relationship with Christ. That is the foundation of everything else that we do. It’s about Jesus and seeing people find forgiveness and new life in him.
It’s also eternal. It’s not just about this life, but about eternity. If we can feed and clothe someone for 20 years and they still end up in hell because we never told them about Jesus, we have failed our calling.
Even someone getting physically healed without us telling them about Jesus is not enough.
If simply feeding and clothing people were enough, Jesus could have avoided the cross, lived for another 30 years, and just spent his life looking after people’s physical needs. However our greatest need was for our sin to be taken care of, for the barrier between us and God to be removed, for our rebellion against our Creator to be forgiven, that’s why Jesus went to the cross.
So yes, please pray for healing, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, show compassion and kindness every day, but know that the most kind and compassionate thing you will ever do is to point someone to Jesus.