How do we understand this? A man is bought to Jesus laying on a stretcher because he is paralyzed. Jesus takes one look at him and says, “Your sins are forgiven, stand and walk.” This of course sends the Religious bods into a freak-out. “Blasphemy!”, they yell, “Only God can forgive sins.” Of course, they could not accept that Jesus is God the Son.
But this is not where we struggle. We have no problem with Jesus forgiving sin. Our big stumbling point is tying illness and disability to sin. Here is where many modern-day people freak out. Consequently, they try to explain away such things by saying that Jesus did not really understand what He was saying. They reason that He had no knowledge of microbiology and physiology and all the other stuff we have access to today.
Yet if we recognize Jesus as being God the Son in human form, then surely He as co-creator of the Heavens and the Earth and all that is in it, would know these fields of science far better than all our brightest minds put together.
At this point, some will try to deflect and say, ‘Oh! Jesus was just dumbing it down for our sake.’ But that doesn’t work either, because then Jesus we have Jesus resorting to deception for the sake of His audience’s inability to understand. Jesus has nothing to do with deception, He is truth personified.
Which brings us back to, ‘How we understand this?’
We live in a fallen world, and sin and disease exist because of sin. However, not everyone suffers because of their own sin. There are times where God will use infirmity and disability and even disease for His glory in a person’s life. However, there are also times when sin does result in sickness and the spreading of disease. Then just to confuse us even more, there is the natural progression of disease, which happens because we live in a fallen world. Then just to make it interesting all three explanations can fit any disease.
In Chapter 9 of John’s Gospel, we read of a man who was blind from birth. The Disciples asked Jesus if this was because the man was a sinner, or if it was because of his parents’ sin that he was born blind. Jesus explained that neither was the case, for this man was born blind so that God could be glorified in his life.
We do not have to look far to see many people carrying disabilities and diseases that absolutely shine for Jesus. In their difficulty, they discover that resting in Jesus makes them overcomers, and God is glorified in their situation.
Living in a world that is breaking down because of sin, diseases are common, and while a result initially of sin, many are inflected and inflicted with suffering, despite having done nothing to cause that. This may well prove to be true with the current Corona Virus Pandemic. Some say that it is an engineered virus, others say it’s not. It does concern me that it originated in the same city as where there was a virus lab studying this exact type of virus. We may never know the truth. If it is human-engineered, then most certainly millions will suffer and die as a direct result of sin.
Then there are diseases directly related to sin. Sexually transmitted diseases and the resultant conditions which include some cancers are the results of sin. God has called us to be faithful in marriage and to abstain from all sexual relationships outside of marriage.
It would be nice to be able to give a simple and embracing answer to the problem of sickness and disability. But such is not the case. What we do know for certain is that Jesus has the power to break the effects of sin and bring forgiveness into people’s lives and that can result, though not always result in healing.
Sometimes it is the will of God that you be healed. Sometimes it is the will of God that you overcome. And sometimes it is God’s will that you succumb. After all, this world is not our eternal home and this could be God’s way of bringing you completely and eternally into His presence.
In times of illness, always pray, God can and often does heal people from their infirmities. However God often asks us to wait, and God does require us to glorify Him in our trials. Remember, our prayer is that God’s will be done.