Jesus Forgives and Heals a Paralysed Man (Luke 5:17-26)
“One day Jesus was teaching, and Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there. They had come from every village of Galilee and from Judea and Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was with Jesus to heal the sick. Some men came carrying a paralysed man 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.”
The Pharisees and the teachers of the law began thinking to themselves, “Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?”
Jesus knew what they were thinking and asked, “Why are you thinking these things in your hearts? Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So, he said to the paralysed man, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” Immediately he stood up in front of them, took what he had been lying on and went home praising God. Everyone was amazed and gave praise to God. They were filled with awe and said, “We have seen remarkable things today.”
This story that we read in both Luke and Mark is quite a well know scripture passage.
Jesus was in a home in Capernaum, many people heard he was there and flocked to hear Him teach. There was a large crowd of people and besides them, many Pharisees and teachers of the law were present.
In this story we see the remarkable faith of a few men, the attitude of the Pharisees and the authority of Jesus.
Let’s first look at the faithful group of men:
The men heard that Jesus was there and they brought their paralysed friend with the anticipation of him being healed.
What can we glean from these men?
- They were full of hope
- They acted in faith – faith leads people to do amazing things
- They had every Intention to meet with Jesus
Intention always faces opposition – They tried to take their friend into the home to lay him before Jesus.
Here is where we can read ourselves into the story, to meet with Jesus and know more of His grace and leading in your life, we will face opposition.
So, what kind of opposition are you facing?
They Persevered – Undaunted by the fact that they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they go to the roof and dig through to make an opening to lower him down.
When we face opposition, do we give up or do we persevere?
When Jesus saw their faith – notice that it says, when Jesus saw ‘their’ faith, not just the faith of the paralysed man.
We can take courage from the fact that the faith of the friends did not go unnoticed by Jesus. If you are praying for the salvation of a friend or family member, take heart, each and every one of your prayers are heard by our heavenly Father. We must understand and never take lightly our role in leading others to Christ.
The man came to be healed only physically, but got immeasurably more than what he asked for or imagined when he received forgiveness.
Sometimes we ourselves are not entirely aware of what we need. But our Lord knows exactly what we need. Like the paralysed man, who came for physical healing but was first given the gift of spiritual healing.
- At the first instance, the man and his friends might have been disappointed to hear Jesus say your sins are forgiven. They must have thought, “That’s it, we took all that trouble to get here and do not get what we came for.” Although he did receive his physical healing soon after. In life, our prayers do not always get answered the way we expect them to. We have to trust and know that the Lord knows best.
Praising God – the miracle did not just cause the man who was healed to praise God but verse 26 says everyone was amazed and praising God.
Let’s look at the attitude of the Pharisees:
- Jesus had become a major threat to the teachers of the law and His popularity spelled trouble for them.
- Their interest in hearing what Jesus said was only so that they could find fault, judge Him or trap Him and run Him out of town
Luke informs us that the Pharisees and other religious leaders were sitting down. Let’s think on this for a minute, if you were trying to cram as many people as possible into a space, would you have them sitting or standing? Standing I would say, so that more people could hear Jesus. In Jewish culture at the time, the teachers sat and students stood. The sitting position was a position of authority for the teacher.
The fact that the religious leaders were sitting, reflects their attitude, for that would mean
giving Jesus authority and respect as a teacher.
- They seemed to care little that other people sincerely wanted to be there and did not care that the paralysed man was healed
- They only seemed to be bothered that Jesus said the man’s sins are forgiven. They were right that only God can forgive sin but failed to recognised that Jesus was God.
They were spiritually blind to who HE was and the salvation HE offered, they were a hindrance to others approaching Jesus and were opposing HIS teaching and HIS authority.
Authority of Jesus:
Jesus’s initial response to the paralysed man was unexpected. Jesus first offered the man forgiveness. HE teaches us the importance of the state of our soul. There is nothing wrong with praying for things we need in this world but what good is it if we only crave for that which is temporary and live without an eternal perspective. The man’s main need was spiritual and so is ours.
Jesus has the power to forgive, and HE grants us that forgiveness by grace through faith.
He then commands the man to get up and walk. In our own Journeys of faith, we might feel knocked down with our own battles, but Jesus gives voice to that brokenness and will give us the faith and strength to ‘get up’ and walk anew in HIS provision.
May we never be a stumbling block or spiritually blind like the pharisees. But like the men, seek to encounter Jesus. And may HE bless us with faith that initiates, faith that persists and faith that obeys.