When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”
A group of unnamed men picked up this paralyzed guy on a mat and brought him to Jesus. When they couldn’t get in the house where Jesus was, they took him up on the roof, dug a hole in it, and lowered him down in front of Jesus.
All of this took time, energy, ingenuity, dedication. And all this is true, and more. But Jesus doesn’t focus in on any of these fine qualities. He doesn’t congratulate them on what they did.
And then there’s the paralyzed guy himself. He really didn’t do anything. He couldn’t. All he could do was lay there. He wasn’t able to help himself or the guys who brought him to Jesus.
And instead of commenting on the individual tasks performed, instead of congratulating them on their selfless act, instead of commenting on the paralyzed guys patience as they hauled him around, what does Jesus do?
Actually, it’s more about what he observed and said, and not what he did. He looks into them and sees something more important, more vital than accomplishing anything.
He saw their faith. There was the faith of the men who carried the sick guy. They dug up the roof and let him down. The faith Jesus sees resulted in their strenuous actions. And then there’s the faith of the paralyzed man who didn’t fight being carried or lowered. He didn’t complain about being tossed as they carried him to the house, or carried up to the roof, or being let down in front of Jesus.
I had my own, personal, version of this. I was in an upstairs bedroom when a sudden “attack” of pain struck me. After the EMT’s confirmed that I was not having a heart attack, they put a neck brace on me and called the fire department. They needed lots of help to lift me over a railing and carrying me down the stairs into a waiting ambulance. I was totally helpless. All I could do was lay there while they did all the work.
This miracle of forgiveness is unique within all the stories about Jesus. It’s the only forgiveness story where people don’t speak to Jesus. All the other miracles have a conversation where they talk about their need and then Jesus acts. But in this one instance Jesus “sees” their faith, and that’s good enough for him. And he responds by answering the paralyzed guy’s deepest need – forgiveness.
We think of forgiveness as changing our feelings from hatred and hostility to one of friendliness and fondness. But our forgiveness cannot do anything about what was said or done. It’s done and cannot be undone or removed. Let’s call it Feeling Forgiveness.
But the kind of forgiveness Jesus gives is something altogether different. More important, more substantial, stronger, deeper. Jesus’ kind of forgiveness is more throwing it away, letting it go, acting as if it never happened. It’s like when a debt is forgiven, you act as if it never happened.
Think of Jesus’ kind of forgiveness as putting everything into a clay pot. All the wrongdoing, all the debt, all the words, thoughts, actions, and attitudes are in that clay pot. And when you drop that clay pot, it shatters along with everything in it. And once dropped and shattered, there is no way to put it back together. It’s gone for good, thrown away, like it never existed. Let call this Final Forgiveness.
I think you’ll agree that Final Forgiveness is greater, stronger, better than Feeling Forgiveness. Final Forgiveness makes it like it never happened. It can’t be remembered or brought up anymore.
That’s the kind of forgiveness that Jesus gave to that paralyzed guy. And that’s the kind of forgiveness that Jesus gives to you and me. Once Final Forgiveness is given, God no longer remembers it, he acts like our past, our sins, our selfishness are gone once and for all.
God removes all the debt from our sin and guilt. He replaces it with a positive righteousness, Jesus Christ himself. With Jesus as our Final Forgiveness, we stand forgiven, made right and clean forever.
We need to radically change our view of forgiveness from Feeling Forgiveness to Final Forgiveness. Feeling Forgiveness can come and go, depending on our emotions, and they change all the time. Final Forgiveness is what Jesus gave to the paralytic. Final Forgiveness is the only kind of forgiveness that Jesus offers.
And that’s the kind of forgiveness Jesus offers to you and me. If you haven’t received Final Forgiveness, I beg you to receive it. If you have received Final Forgiveness, I beg you to take it seriously and respond to his dropping your debt, moving it as far as the east is from the west.
I guarantee that living under the reality of Final Forgiveness will free you for the rest of your life.
 Psalm 103:12