Luke 5:17-26 Healing and forgiveness

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Those who seek to spread the gospel often find that they meet with opposition, misunderstanding or hostility.  This can come even from religious leaders – indeed sometimes they can be the most hostile to telling people they need a Saviour.  This should not surprise us.  During his earthly ministry, Jesus faced constant opposition from religious leaders.  We turn now to consider Luke 5:17-26 Healing and forgiveness.

1. The believing friends

Jesus is teaching in Capernaum (Mark 2:1), possibly in the courtyard of a house roofed with tiles.  Teaching the inerrant Word of God is central to his pre-Calvary ministry.  The impact of Jesus’ ministry is seen in the actions of the men ‘carrying a paralytic on a mat’ (v18) – they are convinced Jesus can heal their friend and will no allow obstacles to prevent their getting him into Jesus’ presence.  Access is barred ‘because of the crowd’ (v19), so they take dramatic steps, removing some tiles from the flat roof and ‘lowered him on his mat…right in front of Jesus’.  Their actions testify to their faith – they believe Jesus can address the man’s need.  Note ‘their faith’ (v20) includes the paralysed man.  Faith does not earn blessing but opens the heart to God’s working and is itself God’s gift.

2. The critical Pharisees

Jesus’ impact is also evident in the hostility of the religious experts, ‘Pharisees and teachers of the law’ (v17), apparently investigating Jesus’ actions and teaching.  John called them ‘You brood of vipers’ (Matthew 3:7).  Their attitude to the law is crucial:

            They added to God’s law layers of their own traditions (Mark 7:9)

            They externalised God’s law, keeping the outward details but neglecting love in the heart such as God required (Deuteronomy 6:5).

            These religious leaders were in fact spiritually blind.  When they witness Jesus’ miracle, their question is both right and wrong – v21 – they know that God alone can forgive sin, but in Jesus God is in fact present among them, but they cannot see that.  Instead of believing on Jesus, they oppose his mission and will eventually bring about his death.

3. The gracious Saviour

            (i). He forgives sin.  ‘Friend, your sins are forgiven’ (v20).  Jesus speaks with divine authority as the only one who can forgive sin against God.  It is through faith that forgiveness comes (Acts 16:31).  Dealing with sin is the heart of the Messiah’s work (Ephesians 1:7).

            (ii). He reads thoughts.  ‘Jesus knew what they were thinking’ (v22).  This again is an indicator of his deity (1 Samuel 16:7).  His divine mind conveys facts to his human mind,

            (iii). He heals bodies.  The healing is instantaneous (v25), in response to Jesus’ authoritative command (v24).  The miracle does not just heal the body but is proof ‘that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins’ (v24) – a sign of salvation.  Bodily healing will be consummated in the resurrection.

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