When Jesus heals chronically ill people, they don't need their "life sustaining equipment" anymore. Last Friday Keene Medical dropped by and took away the oxygen tanks and breathing apparatus that Diane will never, ever, need again. I helped carry it to the truck. Gladly. With a spring in my step.
And so it must have been for the paralytic told by Jesus, "my son, your sins are forgiven, take up your bed and walk." One moment the poor fellow would have been (even more) miserable without his bed. The next - he scoops it up and walks away! No doubt with a spring in his step, too.
[Which reminds me of a funny cartoon. Jesus is about to lay hands on a paralytic, but stops when the guy says, "Are you CRAZY?! I could lose my disability check!" Well - funnier when you see it, I guess.]
And then Jesus turns his attention to the much harder-to-treat illness of acute spiritual pride. Those suffering from it consider it a blessing (shared only by them). In its final, terminal stages, symptoms include disorientation and confusion, i.e. delusions of "we aren't sick, everyone else is" and insisting that the delivering and healing work of the Holy Spirit is actually the work of Satan. When the disease has progressed thus far, says the Great Physician, it is terminal.
This condition should NOT be confused with early stage rebellion, idle daydreaming about the spiritual experiences of others, or honest uncertainty about the ways of God with man. These conditions are wholly responsive to repentance and then continuous daily treatments of the Word's reproof, correction and training in righteousness. In fact, simply being concerned that one may have contracted this fatal malady indicates the actual affliction is completely reversible.
In Paradise Lost, Milton's Satan said "Evil, Be Thou My Good." It is this sort of total, sweeping, uncompromising rejection of the revealed work of God that constitutes the "Unforgiveable Sin." The dusty, ancient Interpreter's Bible I found at Fletcher Library in Burlington called this sin "a distortion of the whole spiritual being, by which we are blinded to good and call it evil, and thus cut ourselves off from God and God's cause." There is a point, unknown to us, at which God's spirit will contend with man no more. But for those whose hearts desire it, the mercy and forgiveness of our wonderful Savior are always free for the asking. Hallelujah, what a savior.