Summary: The analysis of the healing of the paralytic as set forth in Luke 5:17-26 will show us that Jesus has divine authority to forgive sins.
Luke recorded 21 miracles by Jesus in his Gospel. R. C. Sproul states in his Dust to Glory lectures, “Miracles prove the truthfulness of the one who is performing them and prove that he is endorsed and blessed by God.” In the case of Jesus, “God bore witness to the identity of Jesus through miracles.” That is, Jesus performed miracles to authenticate his claim to divine authority. Today we will examine the miracle of the healing of a paralytic.
Let’s read about Jesus healing a paralytic in Luke 5:17-26:
17 On one of those days, as he was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there, who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was with him to heal. 18 And behold, some men were bringing on a bed a man who was paralyzed, and they were seeking to bring him in and lay him before Jesus, 19 but finding no way to bring him in, because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down with his bed through the tiles into the midst before Jesus. 20 And when he saw their faith, he said, “Man, your sins are forgiven you.” 21 And the scribes and the Pharisees began to question, saying, “Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” 22 When Jesus perceived their thoughts, he answered them, “Why do you question in your hearts? 23 Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? 24 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.” 25 And immediately he rose up before them and picked up what he had been lying on and went home, glorifying God. 26 And amazement seized them all, and they glorified God and were filled with awe, saying, “We have seen extraordinary things today.” (Luke 5:17-26)
I grew up during apartheid in South Africa. When I was a student at the University of Cape Town I spent my vacations working at Freddy’s Gold Mine in the town of Welkom. During a winter vacation I was asked to referee a rugby match between the residents of Freddy’s Gold Mine and a neighboring gold mine. On the day of the rugby match I noticed that there were about one thousand spectators at the game. Since there were no seats, they all stood around the edge of the field, each team’s supporters on opposite sides. I should mention that I was the only white person there that day!
The team from Freddy’s Gold Mine was vastly superior to the other team, and they were beating the other team badly. About halfway through the second half of the game, the other team managed to get a breakthrough and appeared to score a try (which is like a “touchdown”). Unfortunately, just before they scored the try they committed a blatantly illegal pass. So, naturally, I disallowed the try and called them back to restart the game at the point of the infraction. However, the other team started arguing with me (which is not at all appropriate in rugby). I insisted that I was correct, and they insisted that I was wrong. In a few moments things became extremely tense, as they were very unhappy with my ruling. They crowded in on me demanding that I reverse my ruling. I then noticed that hundreds of spectators were slowly walking on to the field toward me. I did not know what to do.
Fortunately, the captain of Freddy’s Gold Mine came to the rescue. He saw that things were about to get really ugly, and so he said that I should award them the try. I was very happy to do so! And disaster for me was averted!
As the referee, I had the authority to officiate the game. But the opposing team and spectators challenged my ruling and my authority. There was a very tense standoff between hundreds of people (who disagreed with my ruling) and me.
Jesus faced growing opposition to his ministry. In today’s lesson regarding the healing of a paralytic, Luke tells us about a tense standoff between Jesus and opponents of his ministry.
The analysis of the healing of a paralytic as set forth in Luke 5:17-26 will show us that that Jesus has divine authority to forgive sins.
I. The Case of the Healing of a Paralytic Shows Us that Jesus Provokes Hostility (5:17)
First, the case of the healing of a paralytic shows us that Jesus provokes hostility.
Luke said that on one of those days, as Jesus was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there, who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem (5:17a). Luke did not identify the time or place of this incident. The significant point is that Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there, listening to Jesus as he was teaching. And there were many of them there as they had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and Jerusalem.