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. Then behold, men brought on a bed a man who was paralyzed…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. When He saw their faith, He said to him, “Man, your sins are forgiven you.” …He said to the man who was paralyzed, “I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.” Immediately he rose up before them, took up what he had been lying on, and departed to his own house, glorifying God. And they were all amazed, and they glorified God and were filled with fear, saying, “We have seen strange things today!” (Luk 5:17-26 NKJV)
The Power of God was present to heal them…
I like that statement, but what follows of the story is instructive. There may be some disagreement of who is being referenced here by the term “them.” However, this statement following the description of a great number of the religious leaders and scholars from all parts of the surrounding area would certainly give us the impression that they were included in the “them” when it says “the power of God was present to heal them.”
We can gather from the story that the gathered people didn’t know they needed healing. They were the ones with the answers. They didn’t necessarily know the questions people were asking. They were just answering the questions they thought were important because they had studied and prepared answers for them. They were not there to be healed but to monitor the teaching of Jesus. They were not looking to Him for answers because they were convinced that he was in error.
The story takes an interesting twist as the roof is torn off of the house in which Jesus is speaking. A man is let down on a bed through the roof and lands in front of Jesus. Evidently the extra number of religious leaders taking up the best seats meant that the ones who needed healing couldn’t reach Jesus.
It kind of reminds me of our churches today. Quite often, we find ourselves circling the wagons to protect sound doctrine and inadvertently set up obstacles which crowd out those who would see Jesus. Many times our cynicism toward the Bible and our love for the world, along with our snobby rejection of those who don’t know how to behave simply raises walls that the unsaved cannot scale.
One would think that a healing at this juncture would be fairly smooth and just what everyone was waiting to see. Remember “the power of God was there to heal them.” The religious leaders are in need of Spiritual healing, but they don’t know it. The healing they need is present, but their pride and unbelief, keep them from seeing their own needs. It is like they are in the hospital, but they aren’t aware they need treatment, they think they are here to monitor the doctor’s methods.
Jesus is not about smooth and easy. He is about His Father’s Business and His Father is giving an opportunity for Spiritual healing. You would think that Jesus would simply heal the man and get on with His sermon, Instead He sees the faith of the man and his friends and He makes a startling statement, “Man, your sins are forgiven you.” Talk about stirring up a hornet’s nest. The Pharisees were angry. They were insulted, and they were envious. They were also scared.
A statement of sins being forgiven would have not been nearly so jolting to the general crowd that followed Jesus, but for the religious leaders crowded into that little house, it struck them to the core. Forgiveness of sins is what they all needed and wanted. Being right with God was the core of their religious exercises, but they felt they knew how it was done and didn’t need some uneducated punk changing their rules.
They were frightened and rightfully so. Their whole social and political structure was based on the law and the desire to be right with God. Whether their efforts ever reached God or not was not as much a concern as whether or not the right people noticed. Then as today, the elite didn’t really believe the philosophy they embraced. They simply learned how to gain influence in their society and worked the system. For them the system involved proving yourself holy in the sight of people since the social and national identity of Israel was bound up in the Law of Moses. What frightened them was the distinct possibility that they were about to lose control because their house of cards was starting to shake. Their own righteousness seemed very fragile.
The power of God was present to heal them and they had ignored it until now. They were faced with a dilemma. Only God could forgive sins. But then, which is harder, to say “your sins are forgiven” or to say “rise and walk?”
In one brief moment Jesus said and did both of these things and the religious people were astonished. The facts are there. A man was paralyzed and now is walking. He came on a bed and leaves on his feet. That Jesus has power to heal cannot be ignored, but what about forgiveness of sins? What about healing of emotions? What about restoring innocence to a wounded heart?
Jesus spoke directly to the hearts of everyone gathered there that day. The invitation was open. “But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins”…everyone had an opportunity to receive forgiveness of sins that day, but we read that only one went away with that assurance.
I believe the power of God is present to heal us today, but I wonder how many sit piously in the pew waiting for God to straighten out somebody else. I wonder how many wounded and hurting people occupy places of authority in our churches, People who have never experienced the healing power of Jesus.
What about you today? Have you experienced the power of Jesus to deal with your heart?