Articles

Articles

Healing a Paralyzed Man

Jesus’ miracles were signs. They were not for show. They were to convey a message. That purpose could not be clearer than in the event recorded in Luke 5:17-26, when Jesus healed a paralyzed man (cf. Matthew 9:2-8; Mark 2:1-12).

The Opportunity
Jesus was teaching in Capernaum. Pharisees and teachers came from all over to hear Him (Luke 5:17). The house was standing room only. Even the doorway was filled.

Four men brought a paralyzed man to be healed. Unable to penetrate the crowd, they carried the man to the roof, dug an opening, and lowered his pallet right in front of Jesus. Imagine the commotion this must have stirred!

The resolve of these four is a great credit to them. They were determined to get the paralyzed man to Jesus. The man’s physical limitations, the size of the crowd, an uncooperative audience (“Pardon us, may we get through” didn’t work), the difficulty in carrying the man to the roof or cutting a hole in it—none of these obstacles deterred them. Let us learn from them to be more unfaltering in our efforts to bring others to the Savior.

The Means
Jesus desired to heal the paralyzed man. Any number of means were available. Jesus chose a shocking one. He said to him, “Friend, your sins are forgiven you.”

Why did Jesus choose this expression of His power? To call attention to His authority, hence to His identity. Critics reasoned that His words were blasphemy; only God can forgive sins. Jesus answered that “Rise and walk” would have worked just as well, but the words He chose unmistakably conveyed the message of who He was. Jesus completed the miracle by telling the man to get up, take his pallet and go home. Immediately, he did, glorifying God.

Perhaps a clarification is in order. Not everyone who had the power to work a miracle had divine authority to forgive sins. How, then, did this miracle prove Jesus had it? The answer is, the miracle was worked in proof of that claim. J. W. McGarvey commented, “The power to work miracles does not in itself imply the authority to forgive sins; but it does when the authority is asserted and the miracles are wrought in proof of it.” No apostle ever made such an assertion as this. Their miracles verified only what they claimed, that they were God’s spokesmen.

The Response
The crowd was seized with astonishment. “We have never seen anything like this”—both a remarkable miracle and equally astonishing claims by the miracle worker. They were filled with awe and glorified God. Thanks be to Him for such a Savior, one who not only has power over physical disease, but more importantly is the cure for the greater problem of sin.

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