Luke 5: 17 – 26 Jesus forgives and heals a paralysed man

Luke 5: 17 – 26 Jesus forgives and heals a paralysed man

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 those who were ill. Some men came carrying a paralysed 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.’

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 paralysed 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.’

*       *       *

There are several interesting details about this story.

The first is that Jesus was teaching Pharisees and teachers of the law who had come from miles around – “They had come from every village of Galilee and from Judea and Jerusalem.” Some of them must have walked for days to be there. Whatever else one may say about the Pharisees, they were taking Jesus seriously.

The second detail is the roof. In first century Israel, roofs were typically very robust. They were used as an outdoor room. This was so commonplace that there’s even an instruction that the housebuilder should include a parapet so that someone couldn’t fall off by accident and be killed. “When you build a new house, make a parapet around your roof so that you may not bring the guilt of bloodshed on your house if someone falls from the roof.” (Deuteronomy 22:8)

The roof of the house in this story was tiled. There would have been roof timbers on which the tiles were hung. I have to admit that I wonder what the scene was like down below, as dust and dirt trickled down, and more and more light came through the hole being made in the roof! And lowering the man with his mat can’t have been easy at all. For this access route to have been attempted, the crowd around Jesus must have been very large, and very hard-hearted towards the invalid.

But with the lowering of the man in front of Jesus we reach an important part of the narrative.

When Jesus saw their faith, he said, ‘Friend, your sins are forgiven.’

That should have been all it took, but the Pharisees and teachers of the law are outraged.

‘Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?’

Jesus meets this challenge head on.

‘But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.’

This is a direct claim that Jesus, the Son of Man, has equal authority with God the Father to forgive sins. This would indeed be blasphemy – unless it were true.

So he said to the paralysed 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.  

Jesus is indeed the Son of Man. He does indeed have the authority to forgive sins. We can all be deeply thankful for that.

There is one final point that struck me while working on this passage. Jesus makes no enquiry as to the nature of the man’s sin. He doesn’t exhort him not to sin again. He doesn’t demand repentance.

No. Jesus saw the faith and he forgave the sin. How often, I wonder, does he see my sin and forgive me, and I don’t even notice? I’m sorry, Lord; thank you that you’re always helping me to do better.

Prayer

Heavenly Father

Thank you for the wonderful mercy of your love, that sent Jesus to heal us and to forgive our sins.

In Jesus’ name, Amen

Published by pennygadd51

I write. I've written many pieces of flash fiction, dozens of short stories and two novels, with a third in progress.

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