It was Sunday, March 9, 2008. Steve Ridgell and I had traveled with Herald of Truth Ministries to the island of Cuba. We were speaking at a church service in the town of Matanzas. I used the text that I had chosen beforehand, Mark 2:1-12. The first part of the text seemed very appropriate. Verse 2 says, "So many gathered that there was no room left." We were speaking to a group of well over 400 people when there were only seats for about 300. However, I was a bit uncomfortable with other parts of the text. As I read about Jesus healing this paralyzed man, I was acutely aware of the people in wheelchairs at the back of the audience. I couldn't help but wonder how they felt. Like other times when I've spoken on this passage, I talked about how Jesus put more emphasis on forgiving the man's sins than He did on healing his handicap. I explained that our physical needs can't begin to compare with our spiritual needs. As I preached, I couldn't help but wonder how my words were being received by these people whose physical needs were obviously great.
After the sermon, one of the local members invited any who needed to respond to the message to do so. Nine people came forward to be baptized into Christ. One especially caught my eye. She was one of the people in wheelchairs being wheeled forward by one of her friends, much like the paralyzed man in the story had been helped by his friends. This woman was connected to an IV bag. She was in the wheelchair because she only had one leg. It was obvious that she had major physical needs.
She was the first to be baptized. I stood in the water, and someone handed her to me. She professed her faith in Jesus, then I immersed her. When she came out of the water, no one looked at her leg. Instead, all eyes were drawn to her face. Seldom had any of us seen such joy, such pure and unrestrained joy. She was still unable to walk. She was still a sick woman. But her sins had been forgiven. My sermon about the importance of the forgiveness of sins versus physical healing was probably soon forgotten. But her sermon will long be remembered, even though it was preached without words. She knew. She understood. Her physical infirmities remained, but she had been healed in the way that mattered.
I've received the same healing. If you haven't, write to me at email@example.com or leave a comment on our blog at www.hopeforlife.org/blog. I'd love to share with you what I shared with that woman in Cuba.