“They thought they were bringing a paralyzed man, but they were really bringing a dead man.”
                                                                                                           - Ben Herring

 I had the opportunity to preach for the first time at commUNITY Church this past Sunday morning. If you were there you know that the message was from Mark 2:1-12. Jesus is in a home packed with people, preaching the word to them. Then while he was preaching, four men carried a paralytic with the purpose of bringing him to the one person (Jesus Christ) that could heal his condition. In the moment that everyone expected Jesus to heal this paralyzed man and tell him to get up and walk, Jesus looks at the man and says… “Son, your sins are forgiven…”

We have a tendency to define people by whatever physical or mental ailment is visible in their life.  Think about all of the labels that we place on people that are just simply based on our view of what’s wrong with them. Labels like, depressed, blind, autistic, amputee, quadriplegic, mentally ill and paralyzed. The four men that come bringing this paralyzed man are coming with the expectation that Jesus will simply heal the physical ailment, but instead Jesus reveals a much deeper issue. He forgives the man of his sins. Every human being, at the core of who we are, is dead in sin. All of these other issues are simply symptoms of a world in which sin and death are the accepted choice over life. If there were no sin, there would be no sickness. If there were no sin, there would be no mental illness. If there were no sin, there would be no paralysis. If there were no sin, there would be no death.  Your response to this could be; but Nik, there is sickness. There is mental illness. There is paralysis. There is death. How do I live in a way that these things don’t define me? How do I not define others by them? That is the very reason that Jesus was sent to us to pay for our sin. Jesus has the authority to completely demolish the death that comes from sin, and anyone who looks to Jesus and receives the forgiveness that he has freely offered has been completely changed at their core. This means that even if I am never healed of cancer, autism, depression, or paralysis; I am no longer dead in my sins.  I am alive in Christ. I can turn my attention from my circumstances to the absolutely ground-breaking truth that in Christ  I have eternal life. In his grace he may very well choose to heal me, just as he did the paralyzed man, but even if he chooses not to; whatever ailment I experience has absolutely no hold on me. I can go on celebrating, worshiping, growing, serving and loving. As dead people who have been freely given life we have the privilege of inviting others to have this same identity change. We get to be ‘fishers of men’ as Jesus puts it.

If you would,  please read and reflect on Ephesians 2:4-10

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”