This Week's Gospel Sermons

The Paralyzed Man And His Friends - Scott Richardson

Who Is The Spirit?  Part II - Scott Richardson


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Scott Richardson



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September 18, 2011


The Paralyzed Man and His Friends

One day He was teaching; and there were some Pharisees and teachers of the law sitting there, who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem; and the power of the Lord was present for Him to perform healing. And some men were carrying on a bed a man who was paralyzed; and they were trying to bring him in and to set him down in front of Him. But not finding any way to bring him in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down through the tiles with his stretcher, into the middle of the crowd, in front of Jesus. Seeing their faith, He said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven you.” The scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, “Who is this man who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone?” But Jesus, aware of their reasonings, answered and said to them, “Why are you reasoning in your hearts? Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins have been forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? But, so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins,” — He said to the paralytic — “I say to you, get up, and pick up your stretcher and go home.” Immediately he got up before them, and picked up what he had been lying on, and went home glorifying God. They were all struck with astonishment and began glorifying God; and they were filled with fear, saying, “We have seen remarkable things today.” (Luke 5:17-26).

What a scene — crowds gathering in, standing room only, and the Master present to heal! All of this took place in the city of Capernaum, the Lord’s “own city” (Matthew 9:1). Jesus was born in Bethlehem, grew up in Nazareth, but adopted Capernaum as His city. He was here on this occasion to “perform healing” and indeed He did, but what kind of healing was performed?

There are several things to learn from this incident at Capernaum. First of all, there were the friends who were determined to bring their helpless friend into the circle of healing. Unable to get to Jesus in the ordinary way because of the crowd around and in the house, the bearers took the paralyzed man to the roof. Their determination to place him at the feet of Jesus was an evidence of their faith that he would be healed. Here they were with a helpless man on their hands, yet inside was the Master they were not able to reach who was able to restore their friend to full health. Faith such as those men had scorned impossibilities, and so from an opening in the flat roof of the house, the paralyzed man’s stretcher was let down by ropes.

It is easy to imagine how the whole audience must have looked up in amazement at the bold action of the men. Jesus was not perturbed. The boldness of the act must have pleased Him. How quick He was to respond to it! He rewarded the faith of the bearers and the one infirm. “Seeing their faith” — a faith penetrating through all obstacles to reach Him — Jesus miraculously undertook His work for the sick man. Demonstration of faith was often a condition for which He watched and on which He commented before doing any divine work; He used opportunities to teach — He is the master Teacher. Here He found faith demonstrated by the friends of the paralytic. It was faith that Jesus honored. Pleased with the inventiveness and perseverance of their faith, Jesus responded to their desire.

As to the malady of the man brought to Jesus, Luke uses the term palsied (KJV) or paralyzed (NASB95). The Greek word literally means “loosed from the side” and is used of pronounced paralysis from disease of some part of the nervous system. Jesus was not “put off” by this man who was paralyzed, but instead Jesus called the sufferer “son” or “child.” What a fatherly tone of love and pity for this palsy-stricken one that was disabled.

Jesus goes beyond the desires of the paralyzed man and his friends to perform what might be called a double miracle. In performing this double miracle, Jesus also shows why He is the Master Teacher.

Forgiveness came before healing. How astonished the friends and the crowd alike must have been when they heard Jesus say, as the helpless man rested before Him, “Friend, your sins are forgiven you.” Was that the act and word of healing that the friends and crowd had expected? What does forgiveness of sins have to do with palsy? Jesus set the spiritual and carnal in their proper relationship—things of first importance come first. Bodily disabilities are not as intolerable a weight as the sins of the soul. So, as he lay there before God Incarnate, Jesus the Christ, the man’s thoughts were turned by Jesus not to his immovable limbs but to his conscience. What is the use of all the physical healing in the world if there is no cure for the disease of sin?

Exercising His divine prerogative, Christ forgave the man his sins, fulfilling the prophecy through David, “Who pardons all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases” (Psalm 103:3). It also reinforces the statement made to Joseph before the Christ’s birth: “She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21). In forgiving the man’s sins, Jesus healed him radically. The murmuring enemies immediately cried, “Who is this man who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone?” Rightly understanding the forgiveness of sins as a divine prerogative, those blind scribes and Pharisees failed to see Jesus as God among them in the flesh. Perhaps there is no other passage of Scripture which more unequivocally declares His deity than this.

We have an evidence of our Lord’s omniscience in that He asked, “Why are you reasoning in your hearts?” He was divine and had faculty to perceive the unspoken counsels and meditations of their hearts and then to expose their malice.

Jesus gave them a most decisive proof of His equality with God. He did not reply to their accusations by the ingenuity of argument but by the splendor of a miracle, giving immediate proof of His divine authority and power. Through Christ’s act, the temper of those enemies was revealed.

Giving voice to the thoughts of the scribes, Jesus asked, “Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins have been forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’?” Pardon was sealed by power. Immediately the pardoned one arose and took up his bed and walked. No wonder the people said, “We have seen remarkable things today.

What an experience it was for the sinful paralytic — two miracles given him! The disease Jesus healed is one in which human skill is almost totally unproductive, even in the present state of advanced medicine, yet Jesus healed the paralytic in a moment by a word. Although his stretcher was light, and he lifted it up and carried it away as commanded by Jesus. The sign of his sickness was now the sign of his cure. The stretcher that had carried the man was now being carried; it was seen as a sign of physical healing, but even more importantly, it was seen as a sign of the Christ giving the formerly paralyzed man a cleansed soul.

The result of the man’s supernatural cure was instantaneous and remarkable. The people marveled, were afraid and over-whelmed, and gave glory to God. Although this wonderful double miracle amazed the people, it only further irritated the blinded Pharisees, making them more determined to destroy this Man who made Himself equal with God.

Examine the analogies from this miracle. First of all, palsy is a fit emblem of sin’s paralyzing power and of the utter helplessness of the sinner to do anything for his own relief. The cross made possible a merciful provision for a palsied race. “For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly” (Romans 5:6). The miracle presents Jesus as being able to immediately cancel the bondage of sin. When our sins are forgiven, we are no longer it’s slave: “Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death … in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin.” (Romans 6:1-7).

Another analogy is that while no moral paralytic can be saved by another’s faith, that one can be brought by another to Him who alone can deliver. If you have a friend who is paralyzed by sin and is helpless and hopeless in his or her condition, then assist that one in finding Jesus — through your consecrated life, your compassionate love, your prevailing intercession and your undaunted faith.

—S. Scott Richardson Sr.

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