Powerful Compassion

Posted: August 8, 2016 in Luke, Uncategorized

Luke 5:12-26, “Powerful Compassion”

When was the last time you were left speechless?  When you were simply flabbergasted?  Some people are speechless for the wrong reasons.  Gracie Allen is reported to have said that when she was born that she was so taken by surprise that she didn’t speak for a year & a half. 🙂 Other people are left speechless just by the different folks they see walking around Walmart. 🙂

As for the people surrounding Jesus, they were left speechless, but for all of the right reasons.  They saw the work of God, and they were amazed.  More than that, they saw the compassion of the Son of God, and it left them floored.  This was a Messiah who not only had the power to forgive, but the will to do it.  He was willing to reach out to people whom everyone else rejected – to address needs that no one else saw.  He loved those who were lost, and caused them to glorify God.

We cannot be certain of the exact setting of the events of our text.  Certainly Luke places them early in his account of Jesus’ ministry, but his actual description of each event is almost deliberately vague.  These things happened “in a certain city,” “on a certain day” – with no specific location or date given.  But Luke wasn’t trying to show the chronology of Jesus; he was showing the command of Jesus.  As Jesus’ ministry begins, Luke paints the picture of an authoritative Messiah.  Jesus taught in Galilee with recognized authority – He claimed to fulfill ancient Messianic prophecy & backed up His claims with authority over the demons and disease.  His authority was so great that multitudes flocked to Him to hear His teaching, and His holiness was so evident that it caused Simon Peter to fall to his knees and plead for the mercy of the Lord.  All of this has been part of Luke’s description of Jesus’ Galilean ministry, as the Lord was building His team of disciples, with these men leaving everything they knew to follow the One with all authority – the Christ of Israel.

As Chapter 5 continues, Luke goes on to demonstrate more authority of Jesus, but this time highlighting His compassion in the midst of it.  The greater the authority, the more profound an act of mercy becomes.  If a policeman gives you a warning instead of a ticket, it’s certainly appreciated – but a presidential pardon is far better.  Likewise, when the mercy is shown to us from Almighty God, the scope of that compassion is unfathomable!  And that is exactly what Jesus demonstrates.  He is the authoritative Christ with power over disease & sin, but more than that, Jesus is the compassionate Christ with the will to heal & forgive.  This King of king does not address us with disdain; He has the desire and the will to address our deepest needs – even the ones of which we may not be aware.  This is a Christ to whom we not only bow, but whom we love…and who loves us first.  The compassionate will of Jesus is truly amazing!

Luke 5:12–26

  • Jesus and the leper (12-16)

12 And it happened when He was in a certain city, that behold, a man who was full of leprosy saw Jesus; and he fell on his face and implored Him, saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.” 13 Then He put out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” Immediately the leprosy left him.

  • Luke may be vague in regards to the physical setting (just a “certain city” – most likely in Galilee), but he is specific in regards to the situation.  “A man who was full of leprosy” approached Jesus.  Today, the disease we commonly refer to as “leprosy” is more technically called Hansen’s disease, but it is uncertain if that is actually the condition referred to at various places in the Scripture.  The Bible tended to have a general category of skin diseases that fell under the umbrella description of leprosy, ranging from common boils to something far more contagious.  Luke’s medical background comes to the fore here, in that instead of simply calling the man a “leper” (as does Mark 1:40), Luke notes that his body was “full of leprosy.”  To Luke, the man’s disease did not define who he was, but it was evident that his body was completely overrun by it.
    • Although leprosy is not always a picture of sin, it certainly reflects the effects of sin in a person’s life.  We get overrun. It consumes us to the point of eternal death.  Without a miraculous intervention, we are entirely lost.
  • So there is this man in a desperate situation.  His disease has run rampant through his body – he has been forced to leave his family & community – he is a pariah among men, commanded to make his humiliation publicly known every time he sees someone approach.  His future is not merely bleak, but hopeless apart from a miracle, knowing that he will most likely die alone with his body fully ravaged by disease.  “Desperate” seems too small a word to describe his situation.  But what happens next?  He sees Jesus, and all of a sudden he sees hope.  Due to his request, it seems likely that he had heard of Jesus’ past miracles, so he would have known something about Him, but what Jesus might be willing to do for him, he would have no idea.  All the man would have known is that alone, he was hopeless, but Jesus offered hope.  (He still does!)
  • Pay careful attention to the man’s request.  Many people asked Jesus for healing; few others (if any) began their request in this way.  “If You are willing…”  Could Jesus heal the man of his leprosy?  Yes.  There didn’t seem to be a doubt in his mind to the contrary.  Jesus’ ability was never in question; the issue was Jesus’ will.  What did Jesus desire to do?  Would Jesus care about this man filled with leprosy?  Would He be willing to have compassion upon the one everyone else rejected?  Would He desire to save?
    • There are several things of which we may not be certain of God’s precise will.  (One job over another – events of the future, etc.)  But there are others of which there is no question.  Does God desire for us to be saved?  Yes!  God desires that all men be saved & come to the knowledge of the truth (2 Tim 2:4).  God is not willing that anyone should perish, but that all would come to repentance (2 Pet 3:9).  ‘Question: even someone like me?  After all, I’ve sinned really badly…’  Yes!  “All” means all.  God wants YOU to be saved.  God wants YOU to be delivered from sin & death.  He sent His Son precisely for that reason.  This is God’s desire for you & for all people everywhere.  He wants even the most lost of the lost to be saved.
  • That is exactly what the man learned: Jesus was willing!  What was the proof?  His touch.  Jesus touched the man before He spoke the word of healing.  This was an act that would have defiled any normal man, especially a rabbi teaching the word of God.  Depending on the form of leprosy, the disease could be highly contagious, and even a simple touch carried a risk of infection.  But for the Son of God, leprosy posed no risk that was greater than His desire to demonstrate His love and compassion.  Jesus reached out to the man & touched him.  How long had it been since this man felt any human touch other than his own?  Surely his soul was as broken as his body, and Jesus knew it.  Jesus knew this man needed much more than physical healing, but spiritual & emotional healing too.  And Jesus was willing that this man be healed…totally.  That is the love of Christ!   This is His compassion in action.
    • Jesus wills our healing too!  In fact, more often than not, our emotional & spiritual healing is our far more important need, and that is by far the most common healing that Jesus offers.  People are not always healed of our physical diseases in this life (though our freedom from disease is promised us in the resurrection!), but for those who desire it, emotional and spiritual healing IS found in Christ.  He wills that for every one of us, if we are born-again believers.  The only catch?  We have to be willing to go to Him for it.
  • How quickly was the man healed?  “Immediately.”  Jesus needs no waiting time to heal.  He speaks, and illness flees!  How could it be otherwise for the Son of God?

14 And He charged him to tell no one, “But go and show yourself to the priest, and make an offering for your cleansing, as a testimony to them, just as Moses commanded.”

  • It’s always interesting when we see Jesus’ various commands to people not to tell others of the things He did for them, and there are different thoughts as to the reason why.  Many scholars believe that Jesus tried to maintain a Messianic secret, concealing His true identity until after His death and resurrection.  Yet that seems extremely unlikely, considering the number of time Jesus referred to Himself in divine terms (especially in the gospel of John).  Even the gospel of Luke recently showed Jesus specifically stating how He fulfilled Messianic prophecy from Isaiah.  If Jesus desired to keep His identity a secret, He certainly did a lousy job – and He doesn’t do anything lousy!  Other scholars believe that Jesus was attempting to keep the crowds surrounding Him to a minimum – and that certainly is plausible, especially in this particular account (as we’ll see in verse 15).  The greater the crowds, the greater the difficulty in movement and ministry.  Yet there seems to be more to it than only that, and here, Jesus specifically states the reason for secrecy at this time: He wanted a witness to Moses – He wanted a “testimony” to the commands of God in the Scriptures.
  • Why?  Think about it.  If the Scripture was followed, and the commands of Moses obeyed, then the priests would not be able to help but see the power of God and work and give glory to God.  That itself would be undeniable proof of the power of God resting within Jesus.  There are very few instances of leprous healings recorded in the pages of the Hebrew Bible: (1) Moses’ sister Miriam in Numbers 12, and (2) Naaman the Syrian commander in 2 Kings 5.  No doubt the attending priest would need to re-read Leviticus 14 just to find out what to do in regards to the cleansing of a leper.  There’s no way an event like this would stay secret for long.  The priest would be amazed, and ask the man how he was cleansed, and Jesus’ act would be known by that point at the very latest.  But when it was known, it would be known and attested by the priest in addition to the man who had been cleansed of his disease.  The miracle could be testified by a minimum of 2 witnesses (depending how many priests were present), and that would establish it as legal fact.  Because the Scripture was upheld, God would be glorified on two fronts.
    • It’s difficult for us to overstate the value that God puts upon His word.  Psalm 138:2 declares that God has magnified His word above His own name.  That is precious!  When God’s word is fulfilled, God Himself is glorified.  As people respond to the word of God, they respond to God Himself.  Likewise, when people ignore the word of God, it is as if they ignore Almighty God their Creator.  Obedience to the Scripture is never something to be taken lightly or casually.  By it, God can be praised or pushed aside.
  • As for this man, his exuberance is understandable, but he was still disobedient to the Messiah of whom he had just pleaded mercy.  He spread the news, and things became even more hectic.  Vs. 15…

15 However, the report went around concerning Him all the more; and great multitudes came together to hear, and to be healed by Him of their infirmities.

  • By this point in Jesus’ ministry, healings were certainly not uncommon – but the cleansing of a leper stood out among the rest.  Again, there were only two other recorded instances of it in the Hebrew Bible, so it’s no wonder that news about it spread like wildfire.  And the natural response is that people turned out in droves.  They needed to “hear” this Man, and of course they too wanted to be “healed…of their infirmities.”  If Jesus was able to heal leprosy – if He was able to cast out demons – what would be impossible for Him?  Nothing.  What is impossible with men is possible with God, and Jesus obviously had the hand of God upon Him.  Even if they did not yet believe His own divinity, they could not deny the work of God through Him.
  • This is always the case when people see the true work of Jesus.  Some things simply cannot be denied.  When meth addicts are no longer meth addicts, people tend to notice.  When liars and cheats give up their ways, they attract attention.  When atheists suddenly have faith in the gospel, people know something has happened.  Jesus routinely transforms lives every single day.  Those who know what we were cannot help but testify of something when they see who we now are.  They may not be willing to give full credit to God, but they cannot deny that something happened.  The work of Jesus always leaves evidence.
    • BTW – if it doesn’t, something’s wrong.  Granted, not everyone has what others might consider to be a “dramatic” conversion story.  Some people wonderfully come to faith at an early age, and they live virtually their whole lives glorifying God.  But that itself is powerful evidence of the work of Christ!  It is those who claim to know Jesus but live as if they have never met Him that ought to be concerned.  For those who say, “Sure I accepted Christ – I prayed the prayer,” but show zero evidence of any transformation by God – those are people who ought to take seriously the exhortation of Paul in 2 Corinthians 13:5 & examine themselves to see if they are in the faith.  The work of Jesus leaves evidence…always.  No evidence; no work.
    • The good news is that anyone can ask for Jesus to work within them at any time!  No one needs to remain a false convert (or Christian-in-name-only).  Seek Him in faith – seek Him in humility – seek Him in desperation, just like the former leprous man.  You can receive the same transformation!

16 So He Himself often withdrew into the wilderness and prayed.

  • This is such an interesting endnote to the whole event.  Because of the news spreading, the crowds increased, and things got even busier for Jesus.  There were more people coming to Him every day with more needs and more requests.  There were more healings – more ministry – and to what did it lead?  More prayer.  That’s exactly the opposite of what we so often do!  We claim that we’re too busy to pray – that there’s far too much for us to do.  Not Jesus.  Because of what the former leper said, things got even busier for Jesus, and He specifically made time for prayer.  He was too busy NOT to pray.  With more work to do, prayer became more important than ever before, so Jesus did what was necessary to ensure that He could do it.
  • What importance do you put on prayer?  Does it have a place of priority in your life?  We make appointments for friends & co-workers – do we make appointments with the Lord?  Many don’t, as it can be a struggle for many Christians.  Sometimes we don’t know what to say – other times we’re just generally uncertain about the whole thing.  We often put unnecessary restrictions or guidelines to our prayers, and because we can’t live up to those guidelines, we end up putting off prayer altogether.  There’s absolutely nothing wrong with a 2-second prayer, if that’s what the situation calls for.  When Peter walked on water, got scared & started to sink, all he did was cry out “Lord, save me!” (Mt 14:30), and that was enough.  Jesus was right there to lift Peter out of the water.  We’re exhorted in the Scripture to pray continuously, and that is impossible to do if we do not utter those 2-second prayers throughout the day as the occasion presents itself.  That said – if all we’re doing are 2-second prayers, then we’re missing out.  Again, we don’t want to put any unnecessary restrictions or ritualistic regulations on our prayers – but just like we have extended conversations with our friends & loved ones, so ought we have some extended time with God.  Just talk to Him – listen to Him – spend time in His presence.  How you do it matters far less than that you do it.  Spend time with the Lord, and pay attention to how your relationship with Him grows & how you handle your day and your stresses.  If Jesus thought it was necessary for His personal day, surely it is necessary for ours.
  • Jesus and the paralytic (17-26)

17 Now it happened on a certain day, as He was teaching, that there were Pharisees and teachers of the law sitting by, who had come out of every town of Galilee, Judea, and Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was present to heal them.

  • Once again, Luke is vague in his chronology showing Jesus on a generic “day,” most likely in Galilee, doing what He typically did: teach.  Jesus’ teaching was so common that it was impossible to record it all.  (Not even four gospels are enough to contain it!)  No doubt Jesus was once more preaching about the kingdom of God (4:43), teaching the Scriptures and their fulfillment as He did so.
  • His teaching always attracted a crowd, but those who were assembled were starting to become comprised of more than just the common multitude.  For the first time in Luke’s gospel, the “Pharisees” and scribes are named – the scribes being more descriptively labeled as “teachers of the law.”  These men did far more than just copy Scriptures and sayings – because of the time they spent in the Torah, Mishnah, and other Jewish writings, they became true experts in the Hebrew law, and they were the “go-to” scholars as questions arose.  The Pharisees were specialists of their own, as a distinct Jewish sect that also valued the Hebrew law.  Although they are typically thought of as the enemies of Jesus, doctrinally speaking, they were closer to Jesus than any other group in Israel.  Their problem was their ritualistic legalism – how they allowed the letter of the law to replace the heart of God, and thus replacing any personal relationship with God with a works-based religion.  In any case, the scribes and Pharisees were each part of the leadership class in Judea, and they came from far & wide to hear what this powerful Rabbi had to teach.
  • Not only did they come to hear Jesus’ teaching, but they had come to witness Jesus’ working, and they were not disappointed.  As Luke points out, “the power of the Lord was present to heal.”  That’s not to imply that the power of God was sometimes upon Jesus & sometimes not.  It’s simply a note from Luke that it was a busy day for healing.  Many came, and many experienced the power of God.  Everything that Jesus taught with authority was backed up with displays of His authority.  There was no doubt that the power of Almighty God was among them that day – something important to keep in mind when the next person is brought to Jesus to be healed.  Jesus’ reaction to him had to be witnessed with the knowledge that Jesus wielded the power of God.

18 Then behold, men brought on a bed a man who was paralyzed, whom they sought to bring in and lay before Him. 19 And when they could not find how they might bring him in, because of the crowd, they went up on the housetop and let him down with his bed through the tiling into the midst before Jesus.

  • Everyone should have friends such as these. J  Not only had they carried their paralyzed friend from who-knows-where, but once they arrived at the place where Jesus was teaching, they didn’t let anything stop them from seeing Him.  Unlike the beginning of Chapter 5, where Jesus taught in the open air on the lakeshore, this time Jesus was inside a house, and people had apparently crowded around the doorway and windows.  We can easily imagine people squeezing through every crack and standing on tiptoes trying to see what Jesus did.  Unable to find a path through the crowd, the friends of the paralyzed man found a way around them.  They climbed up on the roof (which would have been flat), made themselves a hole, and lowered their friend right in front of Jesus.
  • What incredible persistence!  This is faith that pleases God.  This is the attitude that knows that no matter what the difficulty might be, as long as we’re with Jesus everything will be OK.  We might not know what He will do in every situation, but we know we need to be with Him.  We know that whatever He does will be right, so we do what it takes to seek out Jesus Christ.  And the good news is that those who seek, find.  Jesus does not hide Himself from those who genuinely seek Him.  In fact the Bible promises that God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him (Heb 11:6) – this is the result of true persistent faith.
  • Did their persistent faith please Jesus?  Without question.  Vs. 20…

20 When He saw their faith, He said to him, “Man, your sins are forgiven you.”

  • Don’t miss the plural pronoun: “their faith.”  It was the single man that needed healing, but it was the faith of all of them that was commended.  Question: did the paralyzed man himself have faith?  Surely he did – there would have been no reason for Jesus to address him otherwise, and he certainly demonstrated faith when he later obeyed Jesus’ command. But his faith alone (however much he had) wasn’t enough to physically bring him to Jesus.  He needed the faith of his friends too, and they had it in abundance.
    • There is power in personal intercession!  We cannot personally save anyone, because we cannot exercise saving faith in anyone but ourselves.  But we can pray that they might be saved.  We can intercede for our friends and family, bringing them before Jesus in faith.  We can help remove obstacles from their lives that would keep them from seeing Jesus in us.  Every single person who is saved is saved by faith alone, but very few people had only their own faith in hearing the gospel of Christ presented to them.  At some point, some person shared it with us – gave us a Bible – invited us to a church service or event – someone prayed for us, etc.  God used other people as His instruments to bring us to faith in Christ.  What they did for us, we can do for others.  You are not able to cause someone to put their faith in Jesus, but you can certainly do much in helping them see Jesus for themselves.  Intercession is itself an act of faith, and it’s one we all have the opportunity to exercise.
    • And yes, it takes persistence.  There are some friends and family members for whom you may have prayed for years – for decades.  You wonder if they ever will put their faith in Christ, and (at the end of the day) you simply do not know if they will.  Don’t let that stop your intercession!  Your prayers are not in vain.  Even if they never individually come to faith, the Lord Jesus sees your faith.  Persistent faith pleases Him, and gives glory to God.
  • The friends showed all kinds of persistent faith to bring the man to Jesus for healing, but did Jesus heal him?  Yes, actually – though perhaps not in the way we might expect.  The physical healing comes in a moment, but the more important healing came first: forgiveness.  Jesus saw the faith of the friends, saw the condition of the man, and then pronounced his forgiveness (which again, is evidence of his own personal faith).  Certainly Jesus saw the physical need, but it was the spiritual need that was far more pressing.  Paralysis, as debilitating as it is, will all be addressed in eternal life – just as all disease will be.  There are no wheelchairs in heaven, no cancer wards, no therapy for any sickness of any kind, for all are healed there.  But we have to first be there to experience it.  This man would not enter the kingdom of God if he was not first healed of his spiritual sickness of sin, and that’s what Jesus prioritized.
  • Question: why?  After all, we do not read of many other accounts where Jesus did this.  He certainly forgave many of their sins, but for most of Jesus’ healings, we simply read of His power to heal.  Even with the man filled with leprosy, Jesus reached out in compassion to heal him, without a word recorded of spiritual forgiveness.  Why did Jesus emphasize this here?  Obviously this becomes a teaching point for the Pharisees, as a way of identifying Jesus as the Messiah, but Jesus could have (and likely did) teach that in all kinds of ways that day already.  Most likely, Jesus saw something specifically in this man that caused Him to speak to his spiritual need first.  That’s not to say the man’s paralysis was caused by sin (which was a common thought both then & today), but perhaps the effects of sin was more evident upon the man’s face than the weakness in his legs.  When Simon Peter saw the power of God upon Jesus, he immediately recognized Jesus’ holiness in comparison with his own sinfulness, and he was ashamed (5:8).  Perhaps it was something similar with this man.  As he was lowered down into the room before Jesus, perhaps he saw something in Jesus’ eyes that immediately convicted him of his sin, and he could not help but express it on his face.  And in the compassion of Jesus, that’s what Jesus saw and addressed.  He pronounced the man’s sin forgiven – completely and irrevocably released by God.
    • That is what Jesus does for us when we go to Him in faith.  He forgives us of our sin.  For the paralyzed man, Jesus could do it as Jesus looked forward with anticipation of His work at the cross – for us, Jesus does it because the work is already accomplished.  We earned death through our sin – Jesus paid the wage, and He paid it in full.  And because He did, now He can pronounce our debts to be paid.  Our sin is forgiven – it is completely released.  It has been cast from us as far away as the east can get from the west.  What freedom!  What grace!
  • In the midst of all of this physical healing, this word of spiritual healing immediately stood out to the religious scholars present, and they began to stir among themselves.  Vs. 21…

21 And the scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, “Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?”

  • Was it blasphemy?  If Jesus hadn’t been God, then yes.  The scribes and Pharisees accurately assess that it is “God alone” who can forgive sins.  Surely we can (and should) forgive those who have sinned against us (just as Jesus teaches us to do in the Lord’s Prayer), but this man was not being forgiven of interpersonal sins. He had only just been lowered in front of Jesus – there hadn’t been time for him to do anything!  No, the scribes & Pharisees knew that Jesus had forgiven the man of his sins against God, and only God has the right to do that.  For Jesus to pronounce his forgiveness (apart from the priests, sacrifices & law) meant that Jesus assumed to Himself the authority of God and even the personhood of God.  Truly, that was blasphemous…or it would have been if it was anyone except Jesus.
  • But Jesus IS God, and that’s what He will go on to demonstrate.  Vs. 22…

22 But when Jesus perceived their thoughts, He answered and said to them, “Why are you reasoning in your hearts? 23 Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Rise up and walk’?

  • There are actually two proofs of Jesus’ deity in this passage.  One is obviously His healing of the paralytic – the other is right here in vs. 22.  “Jesus perceived their thoughts.”  This is a reference to supernatural knowledge.  Some might argue that the scribes and Pharisees were verbally murmuring, and it would have been easy for Jesus to listen in & simply address what they were whispering out loud, but that simply is not what the Scripture describes.  These were internal doubts shared by the skeptics, unvoiced by their lips.  Mark’s gospel describes it more definitively: Mark 2:6,8 "(6) And some of the scribes were sitting there and reasoning in their heart … (8) But immediately, when Jesus perceived in His spirit that they reasoned thus within themselves, He said to them, “Why do you reason about these things in your hearts?"  Would the scholars have exchanged glances?  Sure.  Was Jesus being perceptive?  No doubt.  But Jesus also knew the specific state and arguments within their hearts.  It’s one thing for Jesus to pick up on their doubts for His pronouncement; it’s another thing for Him to key onto the singular reason being an accusation of blasphemy, of Him assuming the authority of God.  Jesus knew their thoughts because Jesus IS God.  He knows all things at all times, because God has all knowledge.  That is just who He is.
    • Which begs the question of why would ever attempt to hide anything from Him or lie to Him.  God knows what we are thinking – we might as well be honest with Him in our prayers.
  • The doubts known to Jesus, He sets up a test.  Obviously both statements are just words – meaning nothing if there is no power behind them.  But only one statement could have visible proof right there in the moment.  Jesus could pronounce the man’s forgiveness, and no one would know about it except the man & God – but if Jesus pronounced the man’s healing, then that would be something everyone could see.
    • Ironically, forgiveness is by far a much more difficult thing than healing.  Each requires a miracle, but eternal forgiveness is accomplished only one way: the grace of God via Jesus’ death and resurrection.  Healings are given throughout the Bible via the pronouncements of many prophets – eternal forgiveness is made possible only through the cross.  If the basis of our forgiveness isn’t found in Jesus, we do not have forgiveness at all.
    • FYI – this strikes at the heart of many people’s false beliefs about heaven.  They think that when they die, God will let them into heaven as long as they’ve been mostly good people.  That is a lie straight from the pit of hell. (1) No one is “mostly” good.  Good by our standard still falls infinitely short of good by God’s standard.  (2) That line of thinking has nothing to do with Jesus.  If God looks at our good works to give us entry into heaven, then why did Jesus need to die at all?  Jesus died because there is no other way.  Thus He is the only basis for our forgiveness, and we must go through Him if we are to receive it.

24 But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins”—He said to the man who was paralyzed, “I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.”

  • So here is the test.  Jesus could talk all day long, but if there was no evidence to go along with His speech, then words are just words.  But if a man who was not even able to limp to Jesus on a crutch (having to be physically carried by his friends) was able to stand to his own two feet, and carry out his own mat back to his house, then that would be undeniable proof of Jesus’ authority to say the things He did.  If that would be done at Jesus’ word, so would everything else – including forgiveness of sin.
  • Please note that Jesus never backs away from the possible charge of blasphemy.  He doesn’t try to leave any other impression in the minds of the scribes and Pharisees that He is indeed acting on behalf of God.  He doesn’t explain it away, or try to find any other justification.  Instead, Jesus actually doubles-down, calling Himself “the Son of Man.”  This is by far the most common title Jesus gives Himself in the gospel accounts, and there is no mistaking that it is a Messianic title with clear divine implications.  The prophet Daniel writes of Someone he called the “Son of Man,” who approached Almighty God and was given an everlasting kingdom, in which every person in the world served Him as the King (Dan 7:13-14).  Who could do this except a Messiah who would live forever?  That this Messiah was seen coming on the clouds of heaven showed Him coming in the glory of God, something that no one but God could do.  Thus every time Jesus refers to Himself as the “Son of Man,” He is not hiding His identity as the Divine Christ; He’s proclaiming it.  The multitudes might not understand the title, but the religious elite certainly did – which is no doubt why they opposed Jesus from the very beginning.
  • And again, this would indeed be blasphemy, if it weren’t true.  But it was – and the proof was in the pudding.  Vs. 25…

25 Immediately he rose up before them, took up what he had been lying on, and departed to his own house, glorifying God. 26 And they were all amazed, and they glorified God and were filled with fear, saying, “We have seen strange things today!”

  • Without hesitation, without weakness, the man formerly paralyzed rose to his feet and obeyed Jesus to the letter, no doubt rejoicing as he glorified God on his way out the door.  He had been carried in on a bed; his own feet carried him out.  How long the man had suffered, we don’t know.  We do know that he left profoundly different.  Not only was he upright & walking; he was forgiven & cleansed.  For all of the focus on the skepticism of the Pharisees, we have to wonder if the man himself had any doubts as to Jesus’ authority to pronounce his forgiveness.  After all, most people want to be forgiven by God, but they also want to know that the forgiveness is real.  Who wants to stand before God on Judgment Day with false assurance?  That would be terribly tragic (and yet it will be the situation for untold multitudes of people!).  But any doubts that this man might have had were all laid to rest in that instant as well.  All of a sudden, he had every assurance that his forgiveness was as thorough as his physical healing.  If Jesus had the power to speak strength to his legs, surely Jesus had the power to speak grace to his soul.  (And He does!)
  • So what did he do?  He glorified God…and so did everyone else!  When God works, people cannot help but notice.  At a certain point, how can someone NOT glorify God?  Some things simply cannot be dismissed.  A man healed of paralysis is one – a Jesus resurrected from the dead is another.  One of the most fiercely hardened skeptics of Christianity was a Pharisee by the name of Saul of Tarsus – but when he became a firsthand witness to Jesus’ resurrection, not even he could deny it.  He also glorified God, and surrendered his life to Christ.
    • What has been your response to the work of God among you?  Have you glorified Him for the amazing things He’s done in your life?
  • What was the reason for the people’s reaction?  The “strange things” they had witnessed that day.  The Greek word used by Luke is actually familiar to most English-speakers: παράδοξος ~ paradox.  It is something that is contrary to normal thought – something that is incredible, or unusual.  We think of a “paradox” as something that is true that seems to be contradictory.  For the Greeks, the word referred to something that was contrary to their expectations.  What were the expectations of the Jews coming out to see Jesus that day?  Who knows?  But Jesus certainly blew the doors off of them!  Perhaps they expected to see healings & hear some preaching – but they did not likely expect to hear a refuted claim of blasphemy & see visible proof of divine power & authority.  Whatever their expectations may have been, Jesus exceeded them immensely.  (He always does…and He is still to be glorified for it.)

Conclusion:
Two healings – two accounts of the powerful compassion of Jesus Christ.  With the man filled of leprosy, Jesus reached out to Him & touched him, not only healing him physically, but demonstrating the compassionate will of the Messiah for him.  With the man who was paralyzed, Jesus addressed the deeper need of forgiveness, and then provided assurance of God’s forgiveness by pronouncing God’s healing.

As a result, people were speechless – they were amazed.  The skepticism of the scribes and Pharisees was shut down, and the general expectations of the other witnesses were blown away.  People had come from far & wide to hear a rabbi & perhaps see some miracles, but they didn’t expect anything like this.  They couldn’t help but glorify God as a result.

How about you?  Have you been astounded by the love, compassion, and power of Jesus Christ?  Have you seen His work, submitted yourself into His hands, and given Him glory?  If not, why not?  He has shown that He is not only able, but that He is willing to heal & to forgive.  No one is too far gone to receive of the work of Jesus.  No one has sinned too much or let too much time go by.  Jesus is willing to save you – are you willing to ask?

The leper approached Jesus, even though he wasn’t supposed to approach anyone.  The paralyzed man had his friend bring him to Jesus, not letting crowds nor rooftops get in the way.  Seek Christ!  Don’t let anything or anyone stop you from seeking Him in faith.  Some people let their shame get in the way – others have hurts from the past & people stand as obstacles.  Go past those things!  When it comes to Jesus, nothing is worth letting remain as an obstacle between you & Him.  Jesus is willing that you come to Him, but you have to be the one to choose to do so.  So make the choice.

That doesn’t apply only to our initial salvation – that same principle is true with every aspect of our daily faith.  When there is an obstacle between us & Jesus, we can be assured that WE put it there; not Jesus.  Be rid of it!  Maybe it’s pride – maybe it’s a season of rebellion – maybe it’s fear – whatever it is, cast it aside and seek Jesus with persistent faith.  Those who seek, find – of that we can be sure.

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