Summary: Central to the Christian faith is the doctrine of grace—that God gives us that which we don’t deserve. Instead of just talking about this doctrine, however, we are also called to live out this doctrine in how we treat others.
Opening and Introduction
In elementary school, many kids look forward to show and tell. I have two kids, Tiffany and Tyler. Both loved to bring their favorite toys to school to show their friends. They wanted to show others what they were interested in, experience what they loved, and share that joy that they felt. Kids get attached to their favorite things, and they can’t keep quiet about them.
Like kids, all of us have something that we love. Some of those things, we share with our family and friends. Some we share with neighbors and co-workers. What is it that you like to show and tell others about?
In our lesson tonight, we see a different type of show and tell. Jesus told the paralytic that his sins were forgiven and showed everyone that He had the power to do that.
When Jesus demonstrated His power, it was an act of grace. Tonight, we’re going to dig deeper, and look at how grace worked in a helpless, paralyzed man. We’ll also look at how grace works for us, and how we might be able to show and tell others about the grace that we experience.
Grace for the helpless
Our lesson tonight centers on a story about a paralyzed man and the friends who brought him to Jesus.
A crowd had gathered around Our Lord and it was probably difficult to walk through the vast number of people who were all pushing forward to see Him. Think about how difficult it would be to move through a crowded street, let alone bring a bed with you.
These friends were not going to be able to get through, unless they tried something very unusual. They found an unexpected way of entering a house… by removing the roof. What adds another interesting twist to this story is that it was probably the Apostle Peter’s house, one of Jesus’ closest disciples.
Somehow, they found a way to get to the top of the house, remove the tiles and timbers supporting the roof, then safely lower this man to the ground. What did the people downstairs think of this? What did Jesus think about it? What did Peter think, when he saw folks take the roof off of his home?
The paralyzed man relied on the assistance of others to get to his destination. But, when he finally got there, Jesus didn’t just heal his body. Jesus’ words suggest that He knew how this man felt. This man might’ve been worried, perhaps even a little bit afraid. Have you ever been worried or concerned about something that was happening in your life? Have you ever been anxious about the future? I think that maybe that’s how this paralyzed man felt.
Jesus can sense the worry from this man who wants to be healed. But maybe he needs a bit of compassion too. A bit of encouragement, letting him know that someone cared about him. Jesus says “take heart my son.” (Matt 9:2, ESV)
And it’s in this moment that Jesus uses this situation as a teaching tool. He uses it to demonstrate His power to the crowd. But He also takes care of the broken man’s most pressing need. He forgives the man’s sin.
For just a moment, I’d like you to think back on the past few weeks that we’ve spent with Leviticus. Reflect back on a time when sacrifice, becoming clean, and forgiveness were central to the temple, and central to Jewish society. Moses spoke directly with God. He couldn’t forgive sin. Aaron was the first High Priest. He couldn’t forgive sin either.
Only God can forgive sin. Yet, in the midst of Jewish people, with the temple still active in Jerusalem, Jesus forgives sin.
No-one could believe the audacity of a man to do such a thing. It was putting Him on par with God! They couldn’t believe what they were hearing. Men don’t do that. People can’t do that.
Then, the miracle that this man came here for, the healing of his body, took place. But it was really a secondary event just to prove the authority of Jesus. Jesus told the man to pick up his bed and go home. This was a miracle that the crowd could not deny. It demonstrated that Jesus could, in fact, forgive sins. Luke records it this way.
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.” (Luke 5:25-26a, NIV 84) That’s quite a show and tell story.
The healed man didn’t do anything to receive empathy, forgiveness, or healing. Jesus didn’t owe him anything. Yet, this man got it all. When you get something you don’t deserve, we often call that a favor, or a gift. But we also call it grace. He got a lot of grace.