One day as he was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law, who had come from every village of Galilee and from Judea and Jerusalem, were sitting there. And the power of the Lord was present for him to heal the sick. Some men came carrying a paralytic on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus. When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus. When Jesus saw their faith, he said, "Friend, your sins are forgiven." (Luke 5:17-20)So Jesus, while he was teaching a lecture, saw this man lowered down in front of him on a mat.
Notice that Jesus did not say, "your body is healed." He said, "your sins are forgiven."
What do sins have to do with being paralyzed?
We must then ask: What do sins have to do with being paralyzed?
This also relates to a question that Jesus' disciples asked Jesus on another occasion:
"Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" (John 9:2)This again relates a physical impairment to sinning. It is obvious from these verses and others that there is a connection between sinning and one's physical condition, and not only from this lifetime.
What is that connection?
The physical body is a vehicle we drive. It is like a car that we get in and drive for awhile. It is not us. We are spiritual beings. We are eternal. The physical body is temporary. It lasts a few decades and then dies. When it dies, we get out.
The physical world and our physical body were designed as a rehabilitation center. Here we are presented with a learning system replete with a variety of tests and consequences.
These tests and consequences come in the form of our physical condition, our environment and the many challenges we face. Whatever physical condition and environment we are in reflects our past choices: They reflect a combination of our consciousness and our activities.
We can see this all around us. A person sits in jail because they hurt someone. Another person has a particular job because they went to school and trained for that job. Yet another person is a famous gymnast because they practiced gymnastics for 10 straight years instead of going out with their friends.
All of these and more illustrate how our past activities create our current situation. Our past activities also create the condition and appearance of our body. The gymnast, for example, has a muscular, healthy physique because they worked hard during their training. Another person may have an obese body because they did not work hard but instead sat in front of the TV, eating.
These are the more obvious indications that our physical body reflects our past activities. We don't necessarily see all the connections this easily, however. Our past activities affect our current body and environment in more subtle ways. They also cross over lifetimes, as indicated by Jesus' disciples' question.
While many are disturbed by the controversy about whether "reincarnation" exists or whether Jesus taught "reincarnation," the fact is, we are "reincarnating" right now. Our physical body is made up of atoms and molecules and these atoms and molecules are being recycled at every moment.
Scientists estimate that the entire body's molecules and atoms are recycled within five years. This means that we are changing bodies even within this lifetime.
For example, if we were to look at a picture of our body when it was a baby: That body is now gone. The atoms and molecules that made up that body have now been replaced by new atoms and molecules. We have thus "reincarnated" even within this lifetime.
It is like looking at a waterfall. We can look at a waterfall for a few minutes and then kneel down and tie our shoes. When we look back at the waterfall, it will be a different waterfall. All the water that was in the waterfall the last time we looked is now gone and been replaced by new water.
Our bodies recycle atoms and molecules in the same way. They are constantly changing. We might have a baby body on, then later have a teenager body on. Later we'll have a middle-aged body on, and then an old body on. Throughout these changing bodies, we continue to be the same person.
We might learn and grow, but we are still the same person who has changed bodies. This, of course, is why we struggle with old age. People struggle with the body getting old because we are not the body. We are eternal - we are simply identifying with these temporary bodies.
Just as the changes in our body over the years reflect our activities and consciousness, when we leave these bodies at the time of death we move on to a destination that reflects our activities and consciousness.
If we utilized our time and energy to take advantage of others and we hurt others, our next body will reflect those activities. If we maimed people during this lifetime, we would likely take on a lame body in the next lifetime.
If we blinded someone in our last lifetime, we'd likely take on a body that was blind in our next. If we helped others during our last lifetime, we'd likely have a healthy body in the next physical lifetime.
Our next body - just as our currently changing one - also relates to our consciousness. If we enjoy living like animals, and we love our pet more than anything, we'll likely take on an animal body. Or if we spent most of our lives focused on the needs of our family, tending to all the family events and so on - we will simply follow our family members to their next environment.
This can end up in the animal kingdom or the human body, depending upon the consciousness shared by that family.
In other words, our physical body now and in the future perfectly reflects a combination of our desires (consciousness) and past activities.
This is because the Supreme Being created the physical world as a place of consequence. It is a rehabilitation center. Our activities create consequences because we are here to learn. Consequence learning is now the method parenting experts say is the best way to train children. Why? Because we learn best by seeing the consequences of our activities.
Learning about love
And learning provides the vehicle to get out of this physical world of consequences.
Consequences provide a method of teaching us about love. About caring for others. We were sent here to the physical world because we rejected our natural position as one of God's loving caregivers. We were bounced out of the spiritual realm because we decided we didn't want to love God and love God's children anymore. We decided we wanted to be number one. We wanted to be the center of attention. We wanted the authority and the power. We wanted independence from God.
So the Supreme Being set up this physical universe to give us the illusion that we are independent, and we are the center of attention. Here we can pretend that we are the master of all that we survey (even though we are not).
Here we can seek out our own desires, and pretend we have authority. And the Supreme Being gave us physical bodies to accomplish this and identify with - physical bodies that have no ability to see the spiritual realm or the Supreme Being. This renders the illusion that the Supreme Being may not exist - so that we can try to enjoy ourselves without having to see Him.
But together with these illusions, the Supreme Being set up the physical world with a consequence system of learning. This is to allow us to gradually learn that we will not be happy being self-centered. This system allows us to slowly develop the understanding that our natural position is one of caregiver. We are not self-centered enjoyers by nature. We are givers by nature. And we will not be happy without our Best Friend, the Supreme Being.
This is why even the richest and most successful people are not fulfilled by their wealth and fame, but rather, find some fulfillment in giving to others. They are slowly learning that they are caregivers by nature, not bosses, rich people or famous people by nature.
The system is set up perfectly. One of the questions that people ask of religious teachers today - which sectarian teachers cannot answer - is why is there so much suffering in the world? Why has God allowed children to die of starvation, or children to become paralyzed, and people to be born blind or otherwise impaired? Does God not care about us? Or did the world get out of God's control? Or is God a vengeful person who wants to get us back?
None of this is true. As explained above, the Supreme Being loves us and simply wants us to be happy. He gave us the freedom to make this choice for ourselves, but the only way we will be happy is when we are back in the spiritual realm in our natural position as one of His loving caregivers. This is our natural position, and this is what will make us each ultimately happy.
This is why we spend our lives looking for that perfect soul mate to love and care for, who will love us and care for us forever. Yet we never quite find that perfect soul mate here. When we think we find them, we might "fall in love," but then eventually we find all their faults, and find out that they, like us, are simply looking out for themselves. Or perhaps we do find some ongoing love over the years with someone, but then eventually their body dies and they leave us. One way or another, we find out they weren't so perfect after all.
Once we decide we do want to return home, the Supreme Being is waiting for us. He sends His representatives such as Jesus to bring us home to Him. Those representatives He sends teach us about Him (re-introduce us to Him) and show us how we can re-develop our loving relationship with Him.
This is why Jesus has the ability to remove people's sins. Removing sins is not like removing a nail stuck in someone's shoe. This is, however, what sectarian teachers like to portray, and this is why they teach that only Jesus' crucifixion can cleanse our sins.
But we can see from scripture that this is not true. We can see that Jesus was able to cleanse this paralyzed person's sins on the spot. His body did not have to be murdered on the cross to cleanse this person's sins.
So how did Jesus forgive sins?
Note that Jesus clarified his act was not the same as healing a person's body, when he said:
"Which is easier: to say, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Get up and walk'?" (Luke 5:23)The word "sins" in Jesus' statement is taken from the Greek word ἁμαρτία (hamartia). This word means, according to the lexicon, "to err, be mistaken," "miss the mark," "an offense" and "to wander from the law of God, violate God's law." These are related to God. They are actions that ignore God. They are self-centered actions. This is why Jesus could say that the person's sins were "forgiven." God, upon Jesus' request, was forgiving this man's activities that had forsaken God over the years.
There are two aspects of sin. The first is consciousness. A person has a particular consciousness - desires. These desires create activities. Activities that are self-centered produce consequences.
While many focus upon sins as being the consequences of activities, this is not the focus of Jesus' mission - of healing people or even the cleansing of their sins. Rather, Jesus' mission was focused primarily upon cleansing their consciousness.
How do we know this? We can see this by Jesus' teaching. If he just wanted to heal the consequences of people's past activities why would he teach to them? Because he wanted to also change their consciousness. If he wanted to heal everyone he would have set up a hospital and had everyone line up to be healed. Instead, Jesus traveled the countryside, teaching.
Jesus helped change their consciousness
But how did Jesus change their consequences and thus cleanse their sins? Internally, Jesus was requesting that God grant the person forgiveness. Due to the loving relationship between Jesus and God, when Jesus asked God to forgive someone, God forgave them out of love. This is the nature of the loving relationship between God and the representative of God.
But more importantly, Jesus was also able to cleanse a person's consciousness, so that the person's desires changed from being self-centered to being God-centered. This was the true healing that Jesus gave, and this healing was offered to anyone through Jesus' teachings.
Such a person, with a changed consciousness, can, therefore, change their entire future. Having the past consequences changed does not solve our bigger problem. When we change our consciousness from being self-centered to being God-centered, we act in the loving service of the Supreme Being. Instead of creating a future within another physical body, this creates a future that returns us back home to the spiritual realm with the Supreme Being and His loving caregivers and playmates - our real family members.
Note that the verse states that "When Jesus saw their faith..." Why is this important? "Faith" means trust. They trusted in Jesus, and trusted in Jesus' connection with the Supreme Being. Their efforts reflected this trust, and Jesus rewarded that trust. This trust is the basis for re-establishing our loving relationship with the Supreme Being.
This is the goal of life
This is the purpose of the consequence learning system the Supreme Being set in place. The suffering in the physical world is taking place only to our temporary physical bodies. They are like cars in a demolition derby: They get wrecked up and we simply get out and walk away from them at the time of death, having (hopefully) learned the lessons they offered us.
It is like sitting down at the computer. We might assume a temporary computer identity as we log on to a website, and that identity might undergo some challenges during the website visit, but we can always log off, turn off the computer and walk away from that identity. In the same way, the suffering of the physical world is virtual.
It is real, but it does not impact our real selves outside the learning we take away. Should we learn from these consequences, and seek out the Supreme Being, we have the chance to turn off the physical world and return to our home in the spiritual realm.
And this was Jesus' intent. While the New Testament has focused quite a bit on Jesus' healings, the true message is hidden within his teachings. Jesus said "Friend, your sins are forgiven" instead of "your body is healed" because he was teaching his students that our actions create consequences and those actions can be forgiven because the universe is a personal place, and the Supreme Being is a person. A Person who is compassionate and loving, and always ready to forgive.
He was also teaching that the action that creates the ultimate consequence: returning to the spiritual realm - our home - is related to the consciousness of devotion: loving the Supreme Being. This is why Jesus' most important instruction - as was Moses' - to his students was:
'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'" (Luke 10:27 and Deut. 6:5)