The Most Important Thing

“Take courage, son, your sins are forgiven.” (Matthew 9:2)

Someone might not think there was anything strange about the words that Jesus spoke here — except that they were spoken to a man who was paralyzed!  Some people brought this man, paralyzed and laying on a bed, to Jesus. It was obvious to most people what his biggest problem was: of course it must be his paralysis!  He couldn’t work; he couldn’t function as a normal person in any way. Surely the most important thing you could do for him would be to heal him physically.  And yet that is NOT what Jesus addressed in his life first.
Instead Jesus told the man: “Take courage, son, your SINS are forgiven.”  “Take courage” is from a Greek word (tharseo) which means “cheer up”. Despite this man’s paralysis, Jesus told him that he could “cheer up ” because the greatest thing in the world had happened to him: his sins had been forgiven!  Now, if you read the rest of the story in Matthew 9, you will find that Jesus did indeed heal the man of his paralysis, to demonstrate that He really did have the power to forgive sins. But significantly, Jesus did not tell him to rejoice because his paralysis had been healed, but because his SINS were forgiven.  And that is just what Jesus addressed first in his condition as well. It is obvious which He felt was the most important.

Followers of Christ today should understand that in the same way, no matter what we may face in life: some trial, difficulty, health issue –even paralysis like this man! — that we can “take courage” in it, if we know that our sins are forgiven. NOTHING else in life is more important than that. Everything else in this world is just temporary: our health, financial condition, “popularity”, and so on.  If we have to bear some difficulty or disappointment for a few years here on earth, then so be it. It will not last forever. But forgiveness and the consequent relationship with God that it gives us is eternal. It should bolster our attitude no matter what temporary condition we must face.

David said that because he knew the Lord, he had “a gladness in my heart more than when their grain and new wine abound.” (Psalm 4:7)   In other words, he possessed something more uplifting than that which is based on temporary circumstances. He had forgiveness of his sins and a fulfulling relationship with God, that would only get better after death, and which would last forever.

It should help us bear up under a lot of things in life, if, like the paralyzed man in Matthew 9, we have heard Jesus say: “Take courage … your sins are forgiven”!

About Shawn Thomas

My blog,, features the text of my sermons, book reviews, family life experiences -- as well as a brief overview of the Lifeway "Explore the Bible" lesson for Southern Baptist Sunday School teachers.
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