When yo read the account where the Pharisees call Jesus a blasphemer for forgiving the sins of the paralytic two words stand out. One is Forgiveness, and the other is Paralytic. Jesus comments to the Pharisees are;Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? Ancient thought dictated that the mans paralysis was because he had lost favor with God, or to phrase it another way that he had sinned. In the Pharisees mindset only God had the authority to forgive sins. Jesus blasphemy was that in forgiving the paralytics sins, he was taking on the role of God. Jesus’s rebuttal to their argument was not only to forgive the sins, but also to demonstrate his authority by commanding that paralytic to get up and walk.
What is paralysis though? What is that words meaning and its origin? One meaning of the word is the loss of the ability to move. Another is it describes a state of powerlessness and the inability to act. In the Gospel account the man with the stretcher clearly meets the first definition, but isn’t he also burdened by the second? Clearly his handicapped body suffers a paralysis, but doesn’t the added burden of sin also paralyze his soul? The word paralysis has its origins in ancient Greek from the word “paraluein”, meaning to disable on one side.
Origin: Greek paralysis, literally “loosening”, from paralyein “disable, enfeeble”, from para- “beside” + lyein “loosen, untie”
As the word paralysis has multiple meanings, so too does forgiveness. It can mean to give up resentment of or claim to requital for. It can mean to grant relief from payment such as a debt. It also can mean to cease to feel resentment against an offender. Forgiveness is also loosening of something, whether it be a financial or social debt or a resentment against someone. Just as the paralytic suffers from loosened muscles, he is cured by the loosening of his debt of sin. His physical body is wrecked by a lack of muscle tone, while his psyche is strangled by sin. Binding and loosening are themes that are mentions throughout Jesus testament.Binding and loosening are forbidding of something or allowing it.Jesus says to Peter: “Amen I say to you, whatsoever you shall bind upon earth, shall be bound also in heaven; and whatsoever you shall loose upon earth, shall be loosed also in heaven.” At the raising of Lazarus s Jesus commanded, “Untie Lazarus, and let him go.” In death Lazarus was bound, but to regain life he had to be unbound or set free. For Jesus it was easy to set the man free from the sins that were bound to his handicapped body. For Jesus many times those wretched body’s are not the vessels of sin, but serve as reminders of both Gods strength and Gods compassion. The Pharisee though was not able to forgive that paralytics sins. He lacked that ability to act toward that cripple with compassion. or move past his physical handicaps to see the soul that resided beneath that exterior. Perhaps that was the Pharisees own paralysis? hopefully he was able to “Get up and walk.”