Luke 5: 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.  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,  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.  And when he saw their faith, he said, “Man, your sins are forgiven you.”  And the scribes and the Pharisees began to question, saying, “Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?”  When Jesus perceived their thoughts, he answered them, “Why do you question in your hearts?  Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’?  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.”  And immediately he rose up before them and picked up what he had been lying on and went home, glorifying God.  And amazement seized them all, and they glorified God and were filled with awe, saying, “We have seen extraordinary things today.”
What a great response to the Pharisees as they complain that Jesus has taken upon Himself the right to grant the forgiveness of sins, based on the faith of the man before Him. “Which is easier to say”, Jesus replies, “get up”, or “your sins are forgiven”? The point is obvious. Jesus is claiming that He is capable of doing both with just a word. Whatever He says will be. As soon as Jesus said “your sins are forgiven, they disappeared from the man’s record – forever. And just as soon as He said “get up” the man was able to walk. Any one of us can say these two phrases equally easily. It is not hard to say either one. But for us it is impossible for us to say them and have the words become the truth of the matter.
A few things that we notice in this account:
1) Jesus does not argue with the Pharisees when they say only God can forgive sins. He performs a miracle to show that He has the right. He is agreeing with them that He has the right to forgive sins by virtue of His power over the man’s illness. He is saying “Yes, only God can forgive sins and that is who you are talking to.” And the Pharisees knew that was the message.
2) Jesus no doubt had every intention of healing the man, but He took care of the faithful man’s sin first. It was his bigger problem. Quite often believing churches are accused of not really caring for people since they preach the Gospel constantly and do not do much, in the opinion of some, for the social and material needs of people. Many Gospel preaching churches probably should be doing more for the material needs of their community, but any church that truly delivers the true Gospel does care for people. They show it in giving the Gospel.
3) There is something even more important than the man’s health, and that is a right understanding of the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus plainly states that the reason He is about to heal is so that they might know that He has the right to forgive sins. In the world today there are countless numbers of faithful in Jesus Christ who suffer in all kinds of ways and who will not get release from the things that cause them to suffer. This does not mean that God has forgotten them. It means that they have an opportunity to show who Jesus is in their troubles while others have that opportunity in their relief. Our number one concern is that He be glorified in our lives and that others know who He is, not our material betterment.
4) Believers have a relationship with this same Jesus who did this amazing thing so many years ago. Let’s live today in a desire to glorify Him and demonstrate Him to others.