Let Us Glorify God for the Greater Thing
People often gave glory to God when Jesus healed their disabilities:
When Jesus healed many: And they glorified the God of Israel (Matthew 15:31).
When Jesus healed a blind man: And all the people, when they say it, gave praise to God (Luke 18:42).
It was right for them to do so! God himself was performing miracles in their presence.
But, like us, they sometimes confused things — giving greater glory for gifts they could see rather than the gifts that are eternal.
The Paralytic Man in Mark 2
We see it in the story of the healing of the paralytic in Mark 2:1-12. . .
Four men bring a paralyzed man to where Jesus was staying, vandalize another person’s property, and lower him down through the roof. They do all this to make sure this man is brought to Jesus.
And Jesus does the greatest thing ever: he forgives this man’s sins! Think of the many benefits Jesus instantly gives him:
- Right standing before the perfect judge of his soul who could cast him into hell;
- The assurance of increasing measures of joy with Jesus for eternity;
- The incredible opportunity to tell others about this Jesus.
Yet the three accounts of this miracle do not say that the next response was spontaneous bursts of praise. Actually, the opposite: questioning (Mark 2:6), and accusations of blasphemy (Matthew 9:3; Luke 5:21). The crowd did not glorify God until after Jesus heals the man's paralysis (Mark 2:12).
This physical healing is tremendous, but it only lasted for a short season. That man has been dead for nearly 2000 years. And if he had died in his sins, all he had to look forward to, for eternity, was wrath.
But that wasn’t this man's story. Jesus says to him, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” From what the Bible tells us, God gave this man the best gift ever.
And it's this event of God giving this man the best gift ever that convicts me over what I rejoice in. I find I must temper my criticism of the scribes in Mark 2 because I also do not easily believe a profession of faith in Jesus. Like the Pharisees, I like to see evidence.
The Dark Places of Must-See
That desire for evidence can take us into some very dark places. In its most cruel form it is known as the health and wealth prosperity gospel. Under that wretched misapplication of the gospel, those with “real” faith never experience the hardships of poverty or disability.
But, of course, that implies that Jesus isn’t really enough. It implies that things on this earth that will eventually end, like wealth and health and even life itself, have equal standing with the blood-bought forgiveness of sins that brings us the holy God (2 Peter 3:18). This is wrong. Unbiblical. Unhelpful.
God may or may not offer physical healing in this present age. Even during his earthly ministry, Jesus walked through the multitude of people with disabilities in John 5:2-17 only healing one man. I’m grateful God provided that example, because my sinful heart continually draws me toward the desire for comfort in this present age.
But thankfully, we can live under an entirely different, biblical, joy-filled promise, including all who will live a lifetime with disability (and those who love them!). That promise is this: God’s love as expressed through the perfect sacrifice of Jesus and his triumph over sin means that all sins can be forgiven and we’ll get to be with Jesus forever!
And being with Jesus, obviously, is a greater gift than anything we can experience today, even a life free of disability. So let us first rejoice in that! And if God provides healing, then we'll give glory to God alone for his marvelous, secondary, gifts!
Recent posts from "The Works of God" —
- Hurting People Need to Know the Character of God
- Pastors, Help Your People: The Ministry of a Letter in Suffering
- Does It Really Mean What It Says?
Sign up to receive a daily digest of the Desiring God Blog.