"Friend, your sins are forgiven." (Luke 5:20)

This statement by Jesus confirms the meaning of the various healings by Jesus. Here is the text prior to this statement:
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?

More specifically, what did this man's being paralyzed have to do with his sins?

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 a while. 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 for rehabilitation. 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 bodies. 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.

Recycling atoms

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 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. We have just changed bodies. This is why we struggle with old age. This is why we have what is called, a "mid-life crisis." We try to deny that our body is getting old because we are not the body. We are eternal. We are wrongly identifying ourselves as these temporary bodies.

Just as the changes in our body over the years reflect our activities and consciousness, when we leave our body at the time of death we move on to a place of respite. But eventually, we are destined to continue our learning experiences in a way that reflects our past activities and current consciousness. This is typically within another physical body of some sort.

If we utilized our time and energy to take advantage of others and we hurt others, our next body will likely reflect those activities. If we maimed people during this lifetime, we may take on a lame body in the next lifetime.

If we blinded someone in our last lifetime, we may take on a body that was blind in our next. 

But if used our last lifetime to help others, if we do take on another physical body, we'd likely have a healthy body in the next physical lifetime.

Just as our current body changes with our consciousness, so does our next body. 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.

This may seem unfair to some. That some people become very wealthy and/or famous, while others remain poor. Some people are healthy while some become sick or die from starvation, or are paralyzed. Why are some so much better off than others. Is God not fair?

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. It is not like being put through a carwash. Yet this is how it is often portrayed. Furthermore, many teach that only Jesus' crucifixion can cleanse our sins.

Yet we can see from scripture that this is not true. Jesus was able to cleanse the consequences of this paralyzed person's sins on the spot. Jesus did not have to be crucified to cleanse the consequences of this person's sins.

That is why the person's paralysis was cleared - because the paralysis was a consequence of the person's past activities. By Jesus forgiving those activities, the consequences were also cleared.

How did Jesus forgive sins?

How could Jesus do this as if by magic?

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 three aspects of sin. The first is consciousness. A person has a particular consciousness - desires. These desires produce activities. Activities that are self-centered produce consequences.

Then, because all activities have consequences - good and bad - sinful activities typically come with consequences that lead to suffering.

Clearing people of those consequences was not the focus of Jesus' mission. 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.

How did Jesus help 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 friends - 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. They trusted in Jesus' connection with the Supreme Being. Their efforts reflected this trust. And Jesus rewarded that trust. We can also have this trust. Such trust is the basis for re-establishing our loving relationship with the Supreme Being.

What is the purpose of consequences?

Consequence learning allows us to grow. This is the purpose of the consequence learning system the Supreme Being set in place. The condition of our body - whether suffering or otherwise - allows each of us to reflect upon our activities, and learn from them.

The suffering in the physical world is taking place only to our temporary physical bodies. Not us - each of us is a soul, not the physical body.

Our bodies could be compared to cars in a demolition derby: They get wrecked up and yet the driver can get out of the car and walk away. In the same way, each of us will leave our body at the time of death, having (hopefully) learned the lessons that body and its experiences 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. This is 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 Deuteromy 6:5)