Praying for Pardon in Disease
And, behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee. Matthew 9:2
suggested further reading: Isaiah 2:1–5
Christ seems to offer the paralytic something different from what the sick man has requested. Since Christ intends to bestow health of body, he begins by removing the man’s sin, the cause of the disease, reminding the paralytic of the origin of his disease and of the way in which he ought to pray.
People usually do not consider that the afflictions they endure are God’s chastisements. They want relief from disease in the flesh, but at the same time they feel no concern about their sins. It is like a sick man who ignores his disease and only seeks relief from the present pain it causes.
The only way to obtain deliverance from all evils is to have God reconciled to us. It does sometimes happen that wicked men are freed from their distresses even when God is still their enemy. But if they think they have completely escaped punishment, the same evils may immediately return or more numerous and heavy calamities will overwhelm them. That will make it clear that their sorrows cannot be eased or ended until the wrath of God is appeased, as God declares through the prophet Amos: “As if a man did flee from a lion, and a bear met him; or went into the house, and leaned his hand on the wall, and a serpent bit him” (Amos 5:19).
Scripture frequently speaks about the promise of pardoning sin when people seek relief from punishment. So when afflictions remind us of our sins, let us first be careful to pray for pardon, so that when God is reconciled to us, he may withdraw his hand from punishing us.
for meditation: The world abounds today with geo-political, medical, and natural crises that are crying out for justice and healing. All are merely symptomatic of the deeper problem of unforgiven sin. As we reach out to the suffering who are caught in one crisis or another, we must never make the forgiveness of sins secondary; real justice and real healing are inseparable from forgiveness. But what about you? When you suffer from cancer or heart disease or Type 1 diabetes, do you ask the Lord for forgiveness of sin? If you are not reconciled to God through Christ, forgiveness is precisely what you need. Without forgiveness of sin, healing of the body is meaningless.