Saturday, March 10, 2012

Thoughts on Luke 5:17-26 (Jesus can forgive sins too!)

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 paralyzed 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.”

Lots of amazing stuff in this story!  It is important to note that the Pharisees and teachers of the law were in the same house with Jesus and they were listening.  I wonder, were they there to learn or were they waiting for Jesus to mess up so they could correct him?  Just something to think about.  At any rate, we already knew that Jesus had the power to heal since he has demonstrated that several times now.  He has obviously earned a reputation for healing people because these four guys have brought their friend to him.

Imagine this scene.  You are carrying your friend on a mat because he cannot get there himself.  When you arrive at the house where Jesus is teaching, it is packed.  I mean, it is so packed, there is no way to get into the house.  Now, get over your fear of enclosed spaces, and imagine being inside the house.  You hear some kind of commotion going on on the rooftop.  Now, remember that in this region of the world, the houses have flat tops.  They are easily accessible.  In fact, this is sometimes a place to hang out.  Enjoy a nice cup of tea while talking with friends or neighbors.  Anyway, you're inside hearing Jesus when suddenly the roof starts to pull away.  Daylight is poking in.  Soon, it is not a hole but a skylight with four guys smirking down at the people.  With great delight, they lower their friend on a mat right in front of Jesus.  If we can just get him to Jesus, he will be healed.  They know this in every fiber of their beings.  That is some pretty incredible faith in Jesus!

It is so amazing, that Jesus forgives the sins of the man on the mat.  Wait. What?  I thought he would heal him physically, not spiritually. Ah.  Now ask yourself, which is more important: healing of the body or healing of the soul?

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 paralyzed 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.”

Did you see that?  The Pharisees were thinking Jesus was blaspheming because he had no authority to forgive sins.  Only God could forgive sins, and that required sacrifices at the Temple.  Now, here's this young teacher forgiving sins!  If you don't think this is a big deal, think again.  If someone blasphemes, it is something horrible.  We're talking put-ash-on-your-face-tear-your-clothes-and-stone-the-person-who-did-it horrible.  Jesus, being the God-man, knew what they were thinking and tells them God gave him authority to heal both body and soul.  Then he heals the man's body to further make his point.

WOW!  There it is folks.  Jesus has revealed his purpose and his identity.  He has come to us that our sins might be forgiven.  That is so amazing!  Imagine what it must be like to run outside with your mat to find your friends.  They see you up and walking and they are thrilled!  Do you think that's something you could ever keep quiet?  How can you?  Everyone would see you and know you are healed.  They would ask you how it was possible.  Then you would tell them: Jesus!  It was Jesus!  He did this for me and he forgave me of my sins!  What a celebration would come after such a miracle!  The friends and family would all be there.  Jesus would become even more famous and more cherished, as He should be.

What do we learn from this story?  Jesus can forgive us of our sins because God has given him the authority to do so.  He can heal us in ways that we need and not just in the ways that we want.

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