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First Forgiveness, Then Healing

Written by: Spurgeon, C.H.    Posted on: 04/02/2003

Category: Sermons

Source: CCN


                                  First Forgiveness, Then Healing

                                                        A Sermon                                                       (No. 2417)                               Intended for Reading on Lord's-day, June 16th, 1895,                                                       Delivered by                                                   C. H. SPURGEON,                                   At the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington,                                       On Thursday Evening, June 2nd, 1887.

              "When he saw their faith, he said unto him, Man, thy sins be forgiven thee."Luke 5:20.

                  I HAVE READ TO YOU the narrative of the healing of the man taken with the palsy; and many of you                   remember that, last Sabbath evening,* I preached upon the Pharisees and the doctors of the law who                   were "sitting by." I tried to represent the position of many in our congregations who are just "sitting by." I                   preached to the outsiders of the congregation, on the divers reasons which led to this "sitting by." I must           confess that I did not reckon on so large a blessing as I have already seen as the result of that sermon. When I           came here on Monday afternoon, that being Whit-Monday, when everybody is supposed to take a holiday, I was           surprised, on my arrival, at about three o'clock, by a friend running up to me, and saying, "We are glad you have           come, sir, for there is a room full already. There is quite a nice number of friends who have come forward from           the congregation, and who one after another have said, "We cannot be 'sitting by' any longer; we feel that we           cannot remain among the sitters-by, but that we must come in and partake of the gospel feast, and join ourselves           with the disciples of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ."               This blessed result of my sermon has set the bells of my heart ringing all the week, and I have felt deeply           thankful to God for it. I said to myself that, as I had taken one arrow, which had sped so well, out of that quiver, I           would take another. Having spoken to those who are "sitting by", I think I will now speak to those who are not           sitting by, but who indeed are the principal persons in the congregation, namely, those who are sick and sorry, and           who need the Saviour. For this palsied man, who was let down by ropes through the ceiling, was the most           remarkable person in that congregation. We may readily forget those Pharisees and learned legal gentlemen; but           we can never forget this man to whom, as soon as ever they "let him down through the tiling with his couch into           the midst before Jesus," the Saviour said, "Man, thy sins are forgiven thee." I trust that, at this time, there are           some present in this audience who are not sitting by, but who are already praying, "God be merciful to whose           prayers are rising to heaven in accents like these, "Lord, help me!" "Lord, save, or I perish!" You are the principal           persons in the congregation both to the preacher and to the preacher's Master. He cares more about you, and           about what shall take place in you, than about any of the Pharisees or doctors of the law who may be sitting by.           God is glorified in scattering his miracles of mercy where there is the greatest need of them. Our Lord Jesus, when           the poor man was let down by his four friends through the ceiling, said to him at once, "Man, thy sins are forgiven           thee." Matthew puts our Saviour's words thus, "Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee;" while Mark's           record is, "Son, thy sins be forgiven thee." Well, Jesus may have uttered all of these words, and all the different           versions of the story may be correct, for it is not every man's ear that catches the whole of every sentence that is           spoken, and we may be glad that there are three Evangelists who have recorded what the Saviour said. There is no           real difference in the sense, and the difference in the words may only show that Jesus said all three sentences.               I am going, on this occasion, to talk a little about this man, first, before his forgiveness; next, a little more           about his forgiveness itself; and then a little about what followed after his forgiveness.               I. First, then, let us think of this man BEFORE HIS FORGIVENESS.               We are not told much about him. If I indulge in imagination a little, you will take it for what it is worth. This           man, it seems to me, first, had faith which went out towards the Lord Jesus. Evidently, as I read the narrative, he           had been suddenly paralyzed. This affliction usually comes upon a sudden; men who have been about their           business, as active as usual, have been in a moment struck down with paralysis. This man appears to have been           completely paralyzed, so as to have been unable to move; and, as he lay in that helpless state, he heard that Jesus           of Nazareth had come to the city, and he believed that Jesus of Nazareth was able to heal even him. It does not           strike me that his friends would have brought him to Christ unless at his own request; the most rational explanation           of the whole proceeding seems to me to be this, he believed in Jesus as able to heal him, and he continued to cry           out earnestly, and to pray that he might somehow or other be taken into Christ's presence. He could not stir hand           or foot, but he had friends, and he begged those friends to take him to Jesus.               Well now, there never was a soul yet that had faith in Christ but what Christ revealed himself more fully in the           way of love to that soul. If thou knowest that thou canst not save thyself, if thou believest that Christ can save           thee, and if thy one anxiety is to be laid at his feet, that he may look upon thee, and save thee, he will assuredly           accept thee. "Him that cometh to me," saith he, "I will in no wise cast out." Whether he comes running, or           walking, or creeping, or borne of four, so long as he doth come, Christ will accept him; and if his faith be but as a           grain of mustard seed, our Lord Jesus will not let it die. If there be but a smouldering faith, he will not quench the           smoking flax. Believest thou this? If thou dost, let it cheer thee and comfort thee. There is something that is well           with thy soul already. It was better to be paralyzed and to have faith in Christ than to be walking upright like the           Pharisees and lawyers who had no faith in him. The apparent wretchedness of thy condition is not the real           wretchedness of it; it may even turn out to be the blessedness and the hopefulness of it. If thou believest in Jesus,           I care not how far thou hast fallen, nor how great is thy inability; if thou believest in Jesus, thou art brought into           contact with omnipotence, and that omnipotence will heal thee.               This man, I believe, further, thought that Christ could heal him, but he began to feel his great sinfulness. I am           certain that he did, because Jesus never does forgive where there is no repentance. There was never yet the fiat,           "Thy sins be forgiven thee," until first there was a consciousness of sin, and a confession of sin. "If we confess           our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." This man, lying           there paralyzed, wept at the thought of his past life, his omissions and his commissions, his falling short and his           transgressions, and his heart was heavy within him. He seemed to say to his friends, "Get me somehow to the           great Prophet; get me within sight of this wonderful Saviour. Oh, get me within touch of him, that I may be           restored, that I may have this great load, which presses me down so sorely, taken off my heart! Worse to me even           than the paralysis is this awful sense of sin. Take me, oh, take me into the presence of this Messiah, this Son of           David, that he may have mercy upon me!" That I conceive to have been his condition before the word of pardon           was spoken to him.               Next, being hopeful himself, he inspired those about him with hope. Of course, they would not have taken           him to Christ if they had not had some sort of belief that possibly he might be healed. It is wonderful what sick           people can do even when they can do nothing; how, when they seem to be utterly powerless, they find a strength           in feebleness. Their very helplessness seems to be a plea where there is anything of generosity left in the heart of           those who are near them. So this man pleaded, "I believe Jesus will heal me, I believe he will have mercy upon           me; get me to him, do get me to him."               They resolved to do it if they could; and he was willing to be carried to Christ. Four stout stalwart men said,           "Yes, we will get you to him somehow, though it is a difficult task, for the house is small, the room is crowded,           and there is sure to be a press about the door." "But," said the poor man, "Oh! try to do it, for it is my only hope.           If I could but get where Jesus could see me, he would look on me, and save me. Oh, get me to him, get me to           him!" The palsied man would make no dispute about how it was to be done, so they carried him to the door of the           house, and then they said to the people crowding around, "Make way for this poor palsied man," and he would           say, "I pray you, friends and neighbours, make way;" but they could not; perhaps they, too, had their friends who           wanted to be healed, or they themselves had an anxiety to hear the great Teacher, so they pushed and pressed to           get as near him as they could. You see, those quibbling Pharisees and doctors of the law had got in first, and they           blocked up the road. They are always in a poor sinner's way. What must be done? The poor man's bearers would           have abandoned the task, I think, but he said, "No, do not give up trying to get me in; it is my only hope. Oh, get           me to him! Get me near him!"               So, next, the man was willing to be lowered into the presence of Christ. There was no other way but to go           up those stairs outside the house, and to take him to the top of the roof; and he, not fearing as many would have           done, said, "Ay, break it up, and let me down." These four men, belonging to a fishing town, were adepts in the           use of ropes, and they soon had their tackle ready, and they broke a way through the roof. As I told you in the           reading, I always feel pleased at the idea of the dust and the debris of the roof coming down upon the heads of the           Pharisees and doctors of the law. It always delights me to think that those gentlemen would have dust on their           heads for once; since they were there, they were bound to have a little of it. 0f course, when these gentlemen           come to a place of worship, one feels bound to be respectful to them; but if they come at an untimely hour, when           there is any rough work going on, one does not feel any particular regret. If, when souls are being saved, these           gentlemen should have their corns trodden upon, we do not even ask their pardon, or make any apology. Such a           work as Christ had to do could not stand still for the sake of reverence to the learned doctors of the law; so the           roof was broken up, and this man, though paralyzed, was not afraid to be let down. It is probable that there were           no outcries from him when they began to let him down; I think, if it had been my case, I might have been afraid           that one rope would go a little faster than the other. But no, the man keeps still in his paralysis and courage           mingled, till down drops the pallet just before the Saviour.               There he lies upon his mattress, on the floor of the house, just before the Saviour's eyes, exactly where he           wanted to be. Here I address myself to some who would give all that they have if they could but be brought under           the eye of Jesus. The one thought of such a sufferer is, "Oh, that I could be near him! Oh, that I could be near           him! Oh, that he would look on me, and cure my helplessness, and pardon my sin!" What a wonderful picture this           scene would make! The crowd are obliged to make way, or else they will have to bear the man and his bed on           their heads; so he is dropped down into their midst, and there he lies. The great Preacher has been preaching, and           he stops. There is an interruption which is indeed no interruption to him. His discourse is but broken off for a           minute, to be illustrated with engravings, that men may see, in after years, that what they have heard is but the           letter-press, and that the miracle which is now to be wrought shall be the engraving which shall convey the           Teacher's wonderful meaning to all eyes. So the poor palsied man lies there before the Saviour.               Is that where you desire to lie, dear friend? In your deadly sorrow, and sin, and weakness, do you wish to lie           at the Saviour's feet? That is where I want you to lie; and if you will to lie there, that is where you do lie. The           Lord Jesus is in the midst of us to-night, and you can at once cast yourself down before him. Do so, tell him about           your paralysis, tell him how sick you are, how sinful you are. Nay, you need not speak so that I can hear you; his           ears will hear the whisper of your soul. Your heart-beats will be vocal to his heart, and he will note all you say or           feel in your inmost soul. Just lie before Jesus; and as you lie there, what are you to do? This man did not speak a           word; but, as I believe, he lay there repenting that ever he should have lived as he had done, mourning that he           should have wasted his life and misspent his time. I think, too, that he lay there believing, looking at that wondrous           Man, and believing that all power was in him, and that he had only to speak the word, and the sinner should be at           once forgiven. So he lay there, in the presence of Jesus, hoping and expecting forgiveness and healing.               II. Now, in the second place, we are to consider THE FORGIVENESS ITSELF.               This poor paralyzed man had not lain there long before the blessed Master broke the silence, and said to him,           "Man, thy sins are forgiven thee." I think that the four men up on the roof, looking down to see what would           happen to their friend, would hardly understand what that sentence meant. They had brought him to Jesus because           he was paralyzed, but he had wanted to come first of all because he was a sinner. He did desire to have his           paralysis cured; but secretly in his soul there was another matter which they might not have understood if he had           tried to interpret it to.them; it was his sin that was his heaviest burden; and the Saviour, the great Thought-reader           knew all about that sin, so he did not first say to him, "Rise up and walk," but he began by saying, "Man, thy sins           are forgiven thee."               Observe, that the pardon of sin came in a single sentence. He spake, and it was done. Jesus said "Man, thy           sins are forgiven thee," and they were forgiven him. Christ's voice had such almighty power about it that it needed           not to utter many words. There was no long lesson for the poor man to repeat, there was no intricate problem for           him to work out in his mind. The Master said all that was required in that one sentence, "Thy sins are forgiven           thee." The burden of a sinner does not need two ticks of the clock for it to be removed; swifter than the lightning's           hash is that verdict of absolution which comes from the eternal lips, when the sinner lies hoping, believing,           repenting at the feet of Jesus. It was a single sentence which declared that the man was forgiven.               Next, remember that it was a sentence from One who was authorized to absolve. He was sent by the Father           on purpose to forgive sin; and do not imagine that he has now lost his authorization to forgive; for "him hath God           exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins."           Jesus is appointed as High Priest on purpose that he may stand on God's behalf, and declare the remission of sin.           What Jesus said was spoken with divine authority. It is vain for a priest to say to a sinner, "I absolve thee." What           can he do in such a case? He, or any other man who does not call himself a Priest, may speak in his Master's           name, and say to the penitent, "If thou dost sincerely repent, if thou truly believest, I know thou art.absolved, and           I comfort thee with the assurance of this absolution." So far, so good; but the Master alone can really give the           absolution, it must come from him who has power upon earth to forgive sins.               Now, my hearer, hast thou never been forgiven? Art thou in thy pew, and yet lying at that dear Master's feet,           and dost thou desire above all things that he should say to thee, "Thy sins are forgiven thee"? And dost thou           believe that he can say it, and wilt thou accept it from him as being by divine authority? If so, I think he says it to           thee, for in his own Word he declares that they who believe in him are forgiven. He says to each one of those who           are penitent, and believe in his grace, "Thy sins are forgiven thee." Take thou the absolution, and go thy way. Do           as Martin Luther did, in the days of his dark distress, when a brother-monk said to him, "Dost thou not believe in           the Creed, and dost thou not say, 'I believe in the forgiveness of sins'? Now believe in the forgiveness of sins for           thyself." Trust Christ's Word, and thou wilt be believing what is absolutely true. Trust it, take the comfort of it,           and go thy way. It is thus that Jesus Christ, by the preaching of the gospel, and by the revealed Word of God, says           authoritatively to each penitent, "Man, thy sins are forgiven thee."               Further observe, that this sentence, although it was but one, and was so short, yet was wonderfully           comprehensive: "Man, thy sins are forgiven thee." Not one sin alone, nor many sins, but all thy sins are forgiven           thee. When you go into particulars, you are apt to leave something out; hence, the declaration is made           all-inclusive, there are no particulars given. "Thy sins are forgiven thee." Sins against the holy God? Sins against a           righteous law? Sins against the gospel? Sins against the light of nature? Sins of this and sins of that kind? No, there           is no enumeration. "The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin." "Man, thy sins are forgiven thee."           Murder, adultery, theft, fornication, blasphemy? Yes, in a word, "all manner of sin and of blasphemy shall be           forgiven unto men." "Man, thy sins are forgiven thee." At one sudden sweep of the divine wave of mercy they are           all washed away. There is no such thing as a half-pardon of sin. I heard someone talking, the other day, about           original sin being forgiven, and the other sins left; but sin is a whole, it goes or it stays altogether, it cannot be           broken up into pieces, it is all there or it is not there at all, and it is not there if thou believest in Jesus. This blessed           and comprehensive sentence sets free from every jot and taint and stain of guilt: "Man, thy sins are forgiven thee."               Observe, also, that this sentence contains no conditions: and the blessed gospel, speaking to every repenting           and believing sinner, gives him absolute forgiveness. Behold, the tally is destroyed, the record of thy debt is nailed           to the cross and as for thy sins, they are like the Egyptians when the Red Sea swallowed them up, the depths have           covered them, there is not one of them left, however great or many they may have been. If thou art now a           believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, he says to thee now by his Word, "Man, thy sins are forgiven thee." I pray the           blessed Master by his Holy Spirit to make his Word come home to many here with power. Oh, that those dear           lips, which are as lilies dropping sweet-smelling myrrh, did themselves speak to you! Oh, that those wounds of his,           which are mouths that preach pardon to sinners, might speak to you, and say, "Thy sins are forgiven thee." There           is no mouth that speaketh pardon like that gash in his side, out of which his very heart speaks, as he says, "I have           loved thee, and given myself to death for thee. Thy sins I have borne on the tree, and put them away once for all.           Man, thy sins are forgiven thee." Oh, that Jesus himself might thus speak effectually to many of you!               But note, that this sentence sufficed the receiver. When the Saviour afterwards raised this palsied man to           health and strength, he did not do it to let the man himself know that his sins were forgiven. The man knew that           already, and did not need any more evidence of it; but Jesus did it for another reason. To the scribes and           Pharisees he said, "That ye may know that the Son of man hath power upon earth to forgive sins, (he said unto           the sick of the palsy,) I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy couch, and go into thine house." Those unbelieving           men had not evidence enough that Christ could forgive, but he to whom Christ spake wanted no further proof than           the power of that voice in his own conscience; and if he shall speak to thee, my hearer, thou wilt not want any           books about the evidences of Scripture, the proofs of inspiration, and so on; to thee, this indisputable miracle of           pardoned sin shall stand for ever as a holy memorial of God's mighty grace. It shall be unto you for a sign, for an           everlasting sign that shall not be cut off, that God has pardoned you, and spoken peace to your soul; and this God           shall be your God for ever and ever. To every soul that is in a similar case to that of the poor palsied man lying           repenting and believing at the feet of Jesus, his Word gives the comfortable assurance, "Believe, and thy sins,           which are many, are all forgiven thee." Believe it, and go thy way in peace.               III. Now I close by noticing, thirdly, what followed AFTER THIS MAN'S FORGIVENESS.               He was absolutely, irreversibly, eternally forgiven; for "the gifts and calling of God are without repentance."           He never plays fast and loose with men; he never issues a pardon from his throne, and afterwards executes the           pardoned sinner. His pardon covers all that may come afterwards as well as all that has gone before. But what           happened to this man?               I believe that, first, there was an inward peace that stole over his soul. If you could have looked into the face           of that palsied man, whilst still palsied, and lying there in that hammock, you would have seen a wonderful           transformation. Did you ever see a face transfigured? If you are a soul-winner, you have often seen it. All human           faces are not beautiful, some are absolutely repulsive; the countenances of some who have lived long in sin are           dreadful to look upon. Yet I have noticed faces, that at first I could scarcely endure, when the persons have been           gently led to the Saviour, and they have perceived the love of God to them, and have at last believed, and felt           within their soul the kiss of peace, why, they have looked positively beautiful! I should have liked to have had           them photographed, only it was too sacred a thing. Speak of physiognomies; the grace of God is such an eternal           beautifier that the face, from which you would have turned away in disgust, and said, "There can be no good thing           behind that countenance," is absolutely changed by the Lord's mighty working. I say not that a single feature may           be altered; the person may be the sa

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