September 18 - Luke 5:17-26

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Luke 5:17-26 – Jesus Heals a Paralytic

For those of us who have spent a lifetime in church or reading the Bible or generally feeling fairly familiar with the characters of the New Testament, we accept the introduction of some of these people with no question. Luke does the same thing.

He doesn't tell us who the Pharisees are, he simply states that they were sitting there one day as Jesus was teaching. These men, along with the scribes (teachers of the Law) have a front row seat to Jesus’ teaching and miracles. The have come from everywhere. The stage has been set. Fortunately, for all involved, Luke also tells us that “the power of the Lord was present for him to heal the sick” (Luke 5:17b).

When the friends of the paralytic took him to the roof and lowered him through opened ceiling tiles, Jesus reminded the audience that they were quite different from that group of men who were seated all around, waiting to see what he would do. They operated from a basis of faith. Rather than question his activity, they simply trusted that Jesus would be able to heal their friend.

Jesus immediately declared that the paralytic’s sins were forgiven. He wasn't speaking about any specific sins, but about the broken relationship between the man and God. The actions of the friends and the man indicated faith and a desire to repair the relationship, Jesus recognized the restoration with his words.

The Pharisees and teachers of the law were furious. They said it was because only God forgives, but the truth is that there were plenty of means for a person to gain forgiveness. The temple and its rituals of sacrifice were in place to restore that relationship. A person’s life of righteousness was there to ensure they wouldn't be outside of God’s grace. Those were the proper ways to seek God’s grace.

But Jesus changed all of that with his words. When the paralytic stood up and walked away from the scene, the crowd was amazed.

There is an interesting juxtaposition that Luke is beginning to propose here. Those Pharisees and teachers of the law were seated and didn’t arise to find freedom. They were more paralyzed than the young man whose friends lowered him through the ceiling and would remain so for the duration of this story.