Lessons from Luke’s Gospel – No. 2 – Jesus and the paralytic

This is another one of the studies in a series from the gospel of Luke.

Luke 5:17-26. This is the well-known story of the healing of the paralytic. Four friends bring a paralyzed man to Jesus and stop at nothing until they can get their friend in front of the Lord. 5:20 Seeing their faith, Jesus said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven you.” 21) The scribes and Pharisees began to reason, saying, “Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?”

Briefly let’s set the stage. Jesus is teaching in a crowded house and there are scribes and Pharisees there who are trying to catch Him in some false teaching. In the midst of this teaching, four men bring their paralyzed friend to this house and drop him right down through the tiles of the roof into the crowd and in front of Jesus. Jesus acknowledges the tremendous faith displayed by these men by declaring that the paralyzed man’s sins are forgiven based on that faith. What lessons can we learn from this encounter with the Lord?

First, faith in the Lord Jesus results in forgiveness. Paul will develop this great doctrine of justification by faith in much more detail in Romans and Galatians, but a prominent theme in Luke’s gospel is the idea that Jesus responds to faith and that faith results in forgiveness and salvation. The four friends and the paralytic display a faith that moves them to radical action. “We need to get our friend to Jesus, because He can heal our friend.” They believe in Jesus and believe He can perform miracles like making their paralyzed friend walk. That is the kind of faith which results in forgiveness.

Next we see the Pharisees asking the question, “Who can forgive sins but God alone?” This is a rhetorical question, because the answer is known by all. No one but God can forgive sins. Everyone present in the crowded house would agree that God alone can forgive sins. For all others to claim to forgive sins is indeed blasphemy. So here is how the stage is set: God alone can forgive sins. Jesus claims to forgive sins. Either Jesus is a false teacher and is speaking blasphemy by claiming to forgive sins or He can forgive sins and thus proves that He is God. Which option is true depends on the identity of Jesus. The possibility that Jesus might be God never occurs to the Pharisees, so they claim He is a blasphemer. When the paralytic walks out of the house at Jesus’ command, however, the conclusion is inescapable. Jesus is God and so He can forgive sins.

Now here indeed is good news. Jesus Christ, the Son of Man, has authority on earth to forgive sins (Luke 5:24). When He sees someone who believes in Him and trusts in Him, someone who calls upon His name (Romans 10:13), He will exercise His authority and will forgive the sins of the one who has faith in Him. So you and I are the paralytics. You and I need to come to Jesus for healing, but more than that, we need to come to Jesus for forgiveness, knowing that He has the authority to forgive. Jesus will heal our brokenness and allow us to rise and to walk in newness of life (Romans 5:4b). SDG

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