The Book of Luke, The Forgiveness and Healing of the Paralytic Man, Part II - Lesson 59
Luke 5:20-24, And when he saw their faith, he said unto him, Man, thy sins are forgiven thee. 21And the scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, Who is this which speaketh blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone? 22But when Jesus perceived their thoughts, he answering said unto them, What reason ye in your hearts? 23Whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Rise up and walk? 24But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power upon earth to forgive sins, (he said unto the sick of the palsy,) I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy couch, and go into thine house.
What we have just read is the result of the faith of a man paralyzed by the palsy and his four friends who went the extra mile to help him get to the only one who had every help he needed, both physical and spiritual.
We have seen in this passage in Luke that God sees to it that every need is satisfied when he enters the case.
God knows that physical healing does not meet eternal needs for the physical is only temporal.
The women who came to the well to get water to satisfy her immediate thirst was met by the words of Jesus that he could give her water which would satisfy her eternal thirst.
As he said in John 4:14, But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.
How the faithless man majors on that which is physical!
How we will go to extremes to get one more day of life and yet how little we pay attention to the Christ who will give us eternal life.
Our doctors and our hospitals are totally engaged in prolonging physical life but how little interest there is in what God is interested in; that is eternal things.
This priority of the spiritual over the physical is one of the major lessons of this passage and there are numerous other lessons to be learned from this scripture.
First, we see a contrast between the faith of the four stretcher-carriers and the one carried, compared to the unbelief of the Pharisees and teachers of the law.
The stretcher-carriers believed in Jesus, the Pharisees and teachers were skeptical.
The stretcher-carriers knew they were needy, the Pharisees and scribes were self sufficient.
The stretcher-carriers were persistent in their efforts to reach Jesus.
The Pharisees and teachers were resistant, increasingly drawing back from Jesus.
The stretcher-carriers overcame various obstacles to get to Jesus; the Pharisees and teachers were obstacles, keeping others from Jesus.
The stretcher-carriers wanted others to benefit from the blessings which Jesus bestowed on men.
The Pharisees and teachers rejected His blessings and cared little about others benefiting from Jesus.
If you stop to think of it, not once in any of the gospels do you find a teacher or a Pharisee bringing anyone to Jesus for mercy and grace.
You often find them opposing and resisting people who wish to draw near to Him.
At best, you find the Pharisees and teachers passively tolerant.
The Pharisees and teachers had to reject their own logic and theology to reject Jesus as the Son of God, which their hardened hearts compelled them to do.
They saw themselves as righteous and suspected Jesus of being a sinner.
After all, He associated with sinners.
The bottom line is simply this:
Are you a stretcher-carrier or simply a critic?
Stretcher-carriers are those who recognize Jesusí power and authority and who seek to share Him with others, often at great personal effort and sacrifice.
Critics are those who may listen to the teaching of the Bible, but their minds are already made up and they are just waiting for some justification for their unbelief and rejection.
Even born again Christians are inclined to become critics, rather than stretcher-carriers.
They come to hear a preacher, only to see if he conforms to their preconceived doctrines and ideas.
They want only to discover if he agrees with them.
Only their ears get satisfied as they heap to themselves teachers having itching ears.
Their ears may be in it but their heart is not.
They do not want their prejudices exposed and challenged.
They do not want to be under the authority of Godís Word.
And they spend so much time criticizing that they have no time to bring others to the blessings which God has for those who will receive them.
They have great trouble recognizing the blessings of God because they spend so much time in criticism.
Here in this passage we were witness to a great miracle, that of forgiveness of sins and that of the healing of a man crippled by disease.
It calls for a time of rejoicing and praising God and not criticism but the Pharisees and scribes were blinded by a desire to hold on to their position and power.
But the Bible says that Christians are created in Christ Jesus unto good works.
That means that there are plenty of stretchers that need carrying and there are plenty of men and women who are paralyzed in sin that need carrying to Jesus.
And both the carried and the carriers will be blessed.
So we let us move along in Lukeís Gospel story and see where Jesus Christ ministers next.
Luke 5:27-39, And after these things he went forth, and saw a publican, named Levi, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he said unto him, Follow me. 28And he left all, rose up, and followed him. 29And Levi made him a great feast in his own house: and there was a great company of publicans and of others that sat down with them. 30But their scribes and Pharisees murmured against his disciples, saying, Why do ye eat and drink with publicans and sinners? 31And Jesus answering said unto them, They that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick. 32I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. 33And they said unto him, Why do the disciples of John fast often, and make prayers, and likewise the disciples of the Pharisees; but thine eat and drink? 34And he said unto them, Can ye make the children of the bridechamber fast, while the bridegroom is with them? 35But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then shall they fast in those days. 36And he spake also a parable unto them; No man putteth a piece of a new garment upon an old; if otherwise, then both the new maketh a rent, and the piece that was taken out of the new agreeth not with the old. 37And no man putteth new wine into old bottles; else the new wine will burst the bottles, and be spilled, and the bottles shall perish. 38But new wine must be put into new bottles; and both are preserved. 39No man also having drunk old wine straightway desireth new: for he saith, The old is better.
We see in this passage a calling out of a disciple and the continuing of the confrontation of Jesus with the Pharisees and scribes as a result of a celebration of that calling out.
We have seen in the public ministry of our Lord starting out in chapter 4 where his message and miraculous power were welcomed, but that did not last long.
The first instance of Jesusí public teaching recorded by Luke is at the Synagogue in Nazareth, where Jesus read from Isaiah chapter 61 with Jesus indicating that His coming was a fulfillment of this prophecy.
People were delighted to hear this, until Jesus pointed out that His coming meant blessing for the Gentiles, too, something which brought about a murderous response from the people.
Elsewhere, however, Jesus was welcomed and sought after by the multitudes.
But Luke has already prepared us for the rejection of Jesus by the leadership of the nation.
If the multitudes welcome Jesus, the Pharisees and teachers of the law quickly begin to be suspicious, and then critical, and then become outright opponents, who seek opportunity to accuse Him and also a means of destroying Him.
We have just seen in chapter 5 how the Pharisees reacted when Jesus informed the paralytic that his sins were forgiven, reasoning (rightly) that only God can forgive sins.
They reason rightly but are unwilling to receive Jesus as God.