Rev. Kenneth Aycock shared the following tweet from Duke University Basketball Coach, Michael William “Mike” Krzyzewski [sh?-SHEV-ski], also known as “Coach K”: “If it is important to you, you will find a way. If it’s not, you’ll find an excuse.”[i]
Rev. Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892) writes, “There is an old worldly proverb, that ‘where there’s a will there’s a way;’ and that proverb, I believe, may be safely imported into spiritual things, almost without a caution or grain of salt. ‘Where there’s a will there’s a way;’ and if men be called of God’s grace to a deep anxiety for a particular soul, there is a way which that soul may be brought to Jesus; but that way may not suggest itself till after much consideration. In some cases the way to impress the heart may be an out-of-the-way way, or an extraordinary way—a way which ordinarily should not be used and would not be successful.”[ii]
The account of the healing of a paralyzed man is recorded in the synoptic gospels. “Synoptic” means “to see together.” Remember, there is a divinely given focus in each account, therefore, we discover differences between Matthew 9:1-8, Mark 2:1-12 and Luke 5:16-27. Luke 5:17-26 reads, “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, whom they sought to bring in and lay before Him. 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.’ And the scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, ‘Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?’ But when Jesus perceived their thoughts, He answered and said to them, ‘Why are you reasoning in your hearts? Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Rise up and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins’’—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!’”
Notice three things in this passage.
1. Note the perception of the Lord. Luke 5:20a reads, “When He saw their faith. . .” Matthew 9:2b reads, “When Jesus saw their faith. . .” Mark 2:5a reads, “When Jesus saw their faith. . .” Luke 5:22a reads, “But when Jesus perceived their thoughts. . .” Matthew 9:4a reads, “But Jesus knowing their thoughts. . .” Mark 2:8a reads, “But immediately, when Jesus perceived in His Spirit that they reasoned thus within themselves. . .” “For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7b). Jesus perceived the unbelief of some and the faith of others on that day. 2 Timothy 2:19a reads, “Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: ‘The Lord knows those who are His’. . .”
Someone points out, “The paralytic evidently wanted to come to Jesus but was unable to get there on his own power.” [Guido Gardens Library, Luke 5, 127.pdf] This is much like the situation of another paralytic recorded in John 5:1-23.
2. Note the power of the Lord. “Man, your sins are forgiven you” (Luke 5:20b) “‘I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house’” (Luke 5:24b). Dr. John A. Martin, former Dean of Faculty and Professor of Bible Exposition, Dallas Theological Seminary, comments, “The statement, the power (dynamis, ‘spiritual ability’) of the Lord was present for Him to heal the sick, is unique to Luke (cf. Matt. 9:1-8; Mark 2:1-12). Luke used dynamis on several occasions to describe Jesus’ healing (cf. Luke 4:36; 6:19; 8:46). A large number of people now accompanied Jesus everywhere because of His works of healing. Thus a group of men who were carrying a paralytic had to take him to the roof of the house, remove some tiles, and let him down in front of Jesus. Jesus linked faith with the miracle (5:20), which was also the case in 7:9; 8:25, 48, 50; 17:19; and 18:42. Presumably the faith of which Jesus spoke (i.e., their faith) also included the paralyzed man (5:20).”[iii] Do you know the power of the Lord? Ephesians 1:19-20 reads, “and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places.”
John 9:1-3 reads, “Now as Jesus passed by, He saw a man who was blind from birth. And His disciples asked Him, saying, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’ Jesus answered, ‘Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him.’” While Jesus reveals there is not always a direct cause and effect relationship between sin and suffering, we must remember sometimes there is. 1 John 5:16-17 reads, “If anyone sees his brother sinning a sin which does not lead to death, he will ask, and He will give him life for those who commit sin not leading to death. There is sin leading to death. I do not say that he should pray about that. All unrighteousness is sin, and there is sin not leading to death.” Remember the following related to the observance of the Lord’s Supper: 1 Corinthians 11:27-32 reads, “Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world.”
Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe titles Luke 5:17-26, “From Guilt to Forgiveness”. It is only by the power of God that we can have forgiveness. Only God has the power to forgive sin, period. No mere man can forgive sin, only the God-Man, Jesus Christ, can forgive sin.
Dr. John Phillips (1927-2010) writes, “The question remains, which is easier? To heal sickness, Jesus had only to speak; to forgive sins, He had to suffer. To cleanse the leper, raise the dead, and still the storm, He needed only to give a word of command; to forgive sins, He had to go to Calvary. The ability to heal was simply a matter of power; the ability to forgive was a matter of pain—the terrible agony of death by crucifixion and the even greater, more terrible agony of being abandoned by God during those dark hours when He ‘became sin’ for us.
Paul said to Timothy, in effect, ‘God has already done the harder thing; He has saved you! Why worry about the lesser things, the hatred and cruelty of Nero and his kind? If God does not save you from martyrdom, it is not because He cannot do so; it is because He has a higher purpose in taking you home in a chariot of fire.’ Paul simply put things in perspective.”[iv]
3. Note the praise of the Lord. “he . . . glorifying God” (Luke 5:25b) “they glorified God” (Luke 5:26b) Later, in Acts 3:1-10 we read about another man, “Now Peter and John went up together to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. And a certain man lame from his mother’s womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms from those who entered the temple; who, seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, asked for alms. And fixing his eyes on him, with John, Peter said, ‘Look at us.’ So he gave them his attention, expecting to receive something from them. Then Peter said, ‘Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.’ And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. So he, leaping up, stood and walked and entered the temple with them—walking, leaping, and praising God. And all the people saw him walking and praising God. Then they knew that it was he who sat begging alms at the Beautiful Gate of the temple; and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.” In Acts 4:21b-22 we find “. . . they all glorified God for what had been done. For the man was over forty years old on whom this miracle of healing had been performed.”
Now, back to Luke 5:26b that reads, “. . . and were filled with fear, saying, ‘We have seen strange things today!’” Dr. Ivor Powell (1910-1998) explains, “The New English Bible renders this text as follows: ‘They were all lost in amazement and praised God; filled with awe, they said, ‘You would never believe the things we have seen today’’. The Greek word translated fear is a very strong word meaning to terrify—they were terrified. God was being magnified by the things which had taken place; yet they were astounded; bewildered; frightened. His teaching was diametrically opposed to anything they had ever heard; His acts were beyond anything they imagined; what would happen next? There is reason to believe that in spite of all the marvellous things they had witnessed, the strangest phenomenon had passed unnoticed. A paralytic had gone home with somebody else’s blessing!”[v]
This is the third key concept, fear. In this story there is faith, forgiveness, and fear.
Part Two Coming Soon!
[i]Coach K (@CoachKWisdom) August 29, 2015, Accessed: 09/05/15 https://twitter.com/coachkwisdom .
[ii]Charles H. Spurgeon, Sermons of Rev. C. H. Spurgeon of London “Carried by Four” (Luke 5:16-26) (New York, NY: Robert Carter & Brothers, 1883), 462-463. Accessed: 09/04/15 http://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=mdp.39015059792062;view=1up;seq=462 .
[iii]The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures by Dallas Seminary Faculty, eds. John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck (Wheaton, IL: Scripture Press Publications, Inc. 1983), 217. Database ©2014 WORDsearch Corp.
[iv]John Phillips, Exploring the Pastoral Epistles: An Expository Commentary. WORDsearch Corp.
[v]Ivor Powell, Luke’s Thrilling Gospel (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1984), 131. Database © 2012 WORDsearch Corp.