ENCOUNTERS WITH JESUS

THE PARALYSED MAN AND THE PHARISEES

When friends of a paralysed man carried him to Jesus for healing, so many people were crowded into the house that they went upstairs, made a hole in the roof, and lowered their friend onto the floor in front of Jesus.

Jesus looked beyond the physical suffering right through to the man's soul. Seeing there the pain and anguish of sin's guilt and condemnation, seeing there the eternal separation from God that accompanies sin, seeing there the hopelessness and despair of a life severed from God, he said: 'Friend, your sins are forgiven.'

Immediately the Pharisees and teachers of the law recognized that Jesus was taking upon himself the authority that only God possesses. 'Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?' was their unspoken question.

Either this man, Jesus, is by these words guilty of gross blasphemy, or he is God.

It does not enter their minds that Jesus actually is God. God is God, and man is man, and that is that.

Or is it?

Jesus, knowing what they were thinking, and knowing his true identity and authority, asked: 'Which is easier: to say, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Get up and walk'?

Obviously to say 'Your sins are forgiven' is easier, because there is no way of proving or disproving whether it actually happened. On the other hand, if you say 'Get up and walk' you are exposing yourself to the possibility of failure and loss of credibility if it doesn't happen. It is a self-validating or self-invalidating statement.

To prove that he does indeed have authority to forgive sins, to prove that his word carries authority and power, and achieves what he says, he told the paralytic to get up, take up his mat, and go home.

When the man did so, the onlookers were filled with amazement and awe: not at the healing, for they had already seen Jesus heal many, but at the deep implication: that he whose word healed the physical problem, also, by sheer word, healed the spiritual problem: that he had indeed forgiven the man's sins: If only God has that authority,  is it possible that this man is God?

If he is God, and the Bible teaches that he is, then our response to him is of critical importance and significance.

Scripture: Luke 5:17-26; Romans 9:5; 1 John 5:20; John 8:24

Copyright Rosemary Bardsley 2004,2008