After the shock of a man being lowered through the ceiling, every eye was on Jesus, the man the sick man was trying to get to, waiting to see what He would do. He spoke of the only thing that matters: Faith! Verse 4 says that Jesus “saw their faith.” (Oh, that we all had a faith that could be seen!) Because of this show of faith Jesus granted forgiveness immediately.
The forgiveness that comes by faith is the thing we need above all else. Of all our problems spiritual ones are the most important and should be taken care of first. This is what the gospel is about. Not self-help, therapy, counseling, etc. but salvation. From the beginning of the gospel we are told of Jesus’ priority: “She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21). Sadly, all through theministry of Jesus, the scribes complained about how Jesus was forgiving sins, rather than celebrating that people were being forgiven.
Jesus did also heal the man of his physical problems. This was necessary, but it was secondary. Jesus healed the man to prove that He had to power to forgive sins. The visible (healing) was the proof that the invisible (forgiveness) had actually happened. Isn’t that true today as well? How do we know one is saved today except that they act like it? The gospel solves so many of our personal and social problems, but that’s a secondary effect of it, not its purpose. The secondary benefits of the gospel are undeniable, but that is not its purpose. Forgiveness and salvation are the point and purpose.