The late Charles Colson was notorious for being President Nixon’s “hatchet man,” “a dirty tricks artist,” and for his involvement in the Watergate scandal. But later on in life, he became primarily known for founding Prison Fellowship, an outreach to inmates, as well as, Breakpoint ministries, a popular weekly radio broadcast. What caused this radical transformation in Colson’s life was the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The Gospel is a powerful and transforming reality. When an individual hears and embraces the Good News about Jesus Christ, their life is immediately and eternally changed. This Truth is apparent in Mark 2:1-12. Through Jesus’ interaction with a paralytic, this man’s life was spiritually and physically transformed.
Mark 2 begins with Jesus preaching to a mass of people that swarmed upon the disciple’s house where he was staying. At this same time verse 3 reports that a group of men carried a paralytic to this house with the hopes of Jesus healing their friend. Unfortunately, due to the crowd, they were prohibited from getting inside. Determined to reach Jesus, they made their way to the roof. There a hole was created big enough for the four men to lower the paralytic down into the house and into the immediate presence of Jesus. It is at this moment in the paralytic’s life when he was powerfully transformed.
Upon seeing the situation unfold in front of him and being impressed by the men’s faith, verse 5 records that Jesus simply turned to the paralytic and said, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” With this straightforward comment, this cripple’s life was transformed spiritually. In that exact moment he went from being a sinner, who was a child of wrath, into a forgiven saint, who is a child of God.
God’s transformation originates in the spiritual realm. Specifically, in order for true personal transformation to occur, sin needs to be eliminated. This can only occur through a individual’s faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ, who died on the cross to “take away the sins of the world” (Jn. 1:29). The Scriptures declare that those who believe in this Gospel are indeed “a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Cor. 5:17).
After spiritually transforming the paralytic, Jesus sensed the religious leaders criticizing the legitimacy of his actions. In order to verify his claims, Jesus responded in verses 10 and 11 by countering, “‘But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins’ – he said to the paralytic – ‘I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.'” With this straightforward comment, the paralytic was transformed physically. In that exact moment he went from being a cripple, who was dependent upon others, into a healthy and active individual, who could take care of himself and even others.
Spiritual transformation always manifests itself. Those individuals who hear and embrace the Gospel of Jesus Christ; their lives – in some way, shape, or form – will come to express their faith. This is trajectory of every believer. Christians will be transformed physically. Romans 8:29 states that Christians are currently being “conformed to the image” of Jesus Christ. As sin is identified and removed, new Christlike traits are applied and cultivated in believers’ lives. The following verse, Romans 8:30, furthers this Truth and states that Christians are destined for glory. All believers will be resurrected from the dead in the future. And just like the paralytic, all evidences of sin will be removed at this time and their physical bodies will be transformed and made imperishable, glorious, and powerful (See 1 Cor. 15:42-29).
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is powerful and transforming. It transforms individuals both spiritually and physically. As the Gospel removes sin and molds people’s lives into the image of Jesus Christ, others will take notice. And as with the paralytic, people will notice their transformation, be amazed, and say “we never saw anything like this” (v. 12).