Hi you all. It’s good to be here. And it’s good to see you all. I want to ask you a personal question. What is your pain? Where is your suffering?
What do you do with your pain when you reach the point where you realize you cannot change it? Some of us have this hurt. Some of us cry ourselves to sleep. Others have a flood of tears all dammed up and feel like it could break at any point. Others just get really good at ignoring it.
In all of His power and in all of His greatness, God bends down low and listens to our tears.
Which is why I want to look at this passage today. Luke 5:17–26
But put yourself in the story. Can you imagine what they are thinking and feeling.
Here is Jesus is with the power to heal, that’s what vs. 17 says … And here is someone who needs to be healed. He is paralyzed.
And these friends of this paralyzed man, although they know that they can’t do anything to heal him, they have faith that all they need to do is get him to Jesus.
But they keep running into issues. They can get him to the door. So they go to the roof and they lower him down to Jesus.
They are lowering their paralyzed friend down to the One who has the power to heal. At least they believe he has the power to heal.
And vs. 20 says, when he saw their faith, he said, “Man, your sins are forgiven you.”
Can you imagine that. Wouldn’t you be thinking. Ok. That’s great and all Jesus. But he doesn't need his sins forgiven. He needs to be healed from being paralyzed. There is nothing in the story to suggest that this man was coming to ask for forgiveness.
Imagine going to the doctor with a broken leg – limping – in pain and the doctor says - “Ok, your sins are forgiven.”
Ok, yeah that’s great Doc, but my leg is broke. The real problem is my leg. Can you do something about my leg?
The man comes to Jesus for healing, and Jesus talks about forgiveness?
No one expected Jesus to offer forgiveness. Physical healing perhaps - but forgiveness – I don’t think anyone expected this.
And perhaps the religious leaders are the most shocked of all. In their way of thinking, Jesus has committed the worst possible sin. He has committed the most serious crime - he has committed blasphemy. It is a cosmic crime to claim that you can do something that only God can do.
We are now put in a position where we either have to decide that Jesus is wrong or the religious leaders are wrong. Either way, someone is guilty of a cosmic crime. Someone is committing blasphemy here. The religious leaders are right about one thing: Only God can forgive sin. Is Jesus God?
If he is God, it is cosmic crime to tell him that he is not. If he is not God, then it is a cosmic crime for him or for us to say that he is.
No one has the option of saying that Jesus was just a good moral teacher. C.S Lewis put it like this. He said there are three possibilities. Jesus is either a liar (he knew he wasn’t God but tried to trick people into thinking he was), or he was a lunatic (he sincerely thought he was God, but he was wrong), or he is God.
But think about it from another angle. He is saying He can forgive this person. If someone personally sins against me, then I can forgive them, but I can’t forgive them before God.
If Jesus is merely just a man, he has no business talking about forgiving this paralytic. Let’s imagine that there are a husband and a wife here today who had a fight and the husband said some harsh words.
And say I happened to hear about this fight and I go up to the husband after the service and say to him, you know - "I forgive you for what you said to your wife.."
I think he would look at me a little funny. You see. I am not the one that needs to forgive him. She is the one that needs to forgive him. He has sinned against her.
And you see, the Bible says that all sin is first and foremost against God. When David confessed his sin in Psalm 51. His sin included adultery and murder and he confessed it before God, he said “against you, you only have I sinned” (Psalm 51:4).
Jesus can claim that everyone has sinned against him because he claims to be God
Jesus not only claims to have authority to forgive sin but he also claims that the sin is against him and since the sin is against Him, it can be forgiven by him.
Let’s look at the evidence. Is he God or is He a blasphemer? Two pieces of evidence stand out.
First, Jesus knows what only God knows, which is what is in their hearts. vs. 22, “ When Jesus perceived their thoughts, he answered them, “Why do you question in your hearts?”
That would make you stop and think, Imagine someone being able to read your mind … “Wait, did I say that out loud? How does he know what I'm thinking?
Second, Jesus has the power of the creator ….. vs. 23-25, “Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the man who was paralyzed—“I say to you, rise, pick up your bed and go home.” And immediately he rose up before them and picked up what he had been lying on and went home, glorifying God.
Jesus admits that it is easy to say that one can forgive sins because it can’t be proven. When your sins are forgiven, you don’t start glowing and get new clothes with a halo above your head
So Jesus does something that can be proven or disproven. He says to the paralyzed man, “Get up, pick up your bed and go home.” Jesus’ command would seem cruel if he were an ordinary person. If he had told a paralytic to do something he couldn’t do. Like some kind of sick joke.
But Jesus has the power to create what he calls for—his words surge with Creation power. Like when He said “Let there be light” in Genesis 1: Or Lazarus “come forth” in John 14
Jesus knows what only God can know, and he does what only God can do. He is God.
We have to face the fact that it looks like Jesus only healed the paralytic to prove that he had the power to forgive. What if he had not healed the paralytic? Would he still be God? Would he still be loving?
I believe that the ultimate way that Jesus shows us he is God is in identifying our real needs. How many people look at God in their pain and in their troubles and accuse him of failing them.
Are you tempted to look at God right now and put him in the defendant’s chair and accuse him of not holding up to His end of the bargain?
Have you ever said, “Jesus, this is the real pain in my life right now. All you seem to have given me is some promise of forgiveness. It’s not really what I need right now. It's not enough!”
But don’t you see, dear friend? Jesus did not come in order to address all the symptoms of sin, but to address the root problem of sin.
Every sickness, every abuse, every broken relationship, every heartache, every pain you feel came into God’s perfect world as symptoms of the disease called sin.
Jesus came to address the root. He addressed the symptoms only to prove that he had the power to solve our root problem. Do you see your paralyzing problem or the biggest need of your life?
Jesus didn’t come to show us how to save ourselves from all our problems. He is the Savior. Yet, how many paralytics did Jesus not heal? How many people did Jesus not call out from the grave? How many demons remained on the loose? How many blind people remained blind?
This story reveals our tendency to think that the physical is more real and more important and that the spiritual is less real and less important.
Many people are said to be so heavenly minded that they are no earthly good --- yet, there are plenty who are filled with earthly good and not heavenly minded at all.
Imagine the following scenario. Let us say that you can see your real need is the danger of eternal death and you come into the cosmic emergency room, and the doctors evaluate you
You stack up all the pain and all the problems of this present world on top of each other, they would not even come close to the problem of eternal condemnation. Imagine being spiritually bleeding and there seems to be no hope, you are on the brink of entering into an eternity of hell separated from God forever and the Doctors in the cosmic emergency room decide to fix your broken leg.
And you cry out, but Doc - I am going to Hell. I don't care if my leg is fixed.
My friends – there is something far worse or might I say, far more important than the pain and suffering of this world.
The secular world in which we live believes that the problems of the world are all outside of us and the solutions are all inside of us. This is just not true.
The Christian knows that the problem is inside all of us and that the solution must come from outside. If the current hurts in your life were healed, living in a world still filled with sin, would just means it would be replaced by other hurts very soon.
In a fallen world, problems and pains are like whack-a-moles. You knock one down, and five more come up.
Longing for a life and a world that is pain free and problem free is in all reality a longing for heaven.
The characters in our story show that they did not understand their real need. Look at vs. 26, “And amazement seized them all, and they glorified God and were filled with awe, saying, “We have seen extraordinary things today.”
They just say ‘wow, that was neat.’ If they all would have understood the point that Jesus was making, they all would have been flocking in on him, asking for forgiveness, not just physical healing.
We must understand the difference between felt needs and forever needs or else we will be tempted to think God has failed us.
The secret of Christianity is that there is no secret.
It is interesting, something that really stood out to me, as I was reading this passage this week. How this story is that of a paralyzed man. Did you know that a paralyzed person can do nothing for themselves. They are helpless. In this story, this man did not even talk.
Friends, the grace of God has the power to reach your deepest need. The grace of God has the power to what you could never ever in your wildest dreams do. It has power to do what you don’t even know you need done. What does the song Amazing grace say. I once was lost but now I am found. I was blind but now I see. Twas grace that taught my heart to fear. And grace my fears relieved. Notice, there is no prayer here in this story. Prayer is wonderful. Prayer is of a vital necessity. But what is shown here and taught here is the unmatched and unparalleled sufficiency of Christ. Jesus has complete power over all things. And does not need our help Yet, we must also not forget vs. 20 it says, when Jesus saw “their” faith, not the paralyzed man’s faith, but when he saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man “your sins are forgiven” The Bible says Jesus saw the faith of the paralyzed man’s friends and as a result of that healed the paralyzed man. So what do we get from that? What I get, is that it is in people bringing others before the Lord, that he in his wonder working power, chooses to do what he does. So what does all this mean? First, I would ask, have you been forgiven by Jesus? Have you personally been forgiven for your sins? Jesus is willing, and able, and eager to forgive. Think about the father of the prodigal. Waiting on the porch, day in and day out. Eventually running to his son as he saw him far off coming home. That is a picture of the eagerness of Jesus to forgive today. And 2nd, let’s care about others. Let’s care about others because others cared about us. I dare say, if you know the forgiveness of Jesus it wasn’t because you figured it out on your own. It was because someone helped you along in that. Now, I know the friends in this story were only caring about their friends physical healing. But the thing is, they cared. They did eventually find out the most important thing. And we find out, because this story is recorded in the Bible, the very same thing. But more importantly then caring for others, because they cared for us, let’s care for others because Jesus cared for us. Are we carrying others to Jesus? Are we interceding for others? Are we sharing Jesus with others? Oh, the physical is important. James says in James 2:15-16, “ If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?” If you are able to help someone, help someone. This is how the world will know we are his disciples by our love for one another. I could really preach on this all day. We are meant to live differently then the world. Nevaeh and I were just reading Matthew chapter 5 the other day. You know, the sermon on the mount. The way Jesus is telling his followers to live. It’s different. Forgiveness is key. People need to be forgiven. And people need to be brought to, need to know of the one who can do the forgiving. These are ultimate realities. All people everywhere are sinners in desperate need of forgiveness. And Jesus is a mighty savior. Able and willing to grant forgiveness because of what he did on the cross. That is our mission. To be true friends, to be true disciples. To proclaim this message, with our prayers, with our actions, and with our mouths.