JESUS FORGIVES SIN – Jesus has the power to forgive sin.
MEMORY VERSE: LUKE 5: 24 But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins. . . ." He said to the paralyzed man, "I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home."
A lot of people in Jesus’ day thought He was just a good preacher or a powerful miracle worker. While those are both true, they missed what He really had to offer. Jesus’ greatest gift was His authority to forgive sins.
THE CONTEXT (LUKE 5:12-26)
Between Jesus’ encounter with Peter, James, and John and His call of Levi, Luke recorded incidents that demonstrated Jesus’ nature. The first was Jesus’ compassion, the second confirmed His deity, and the third was He confronted the hypocrisy of the religious leaders.
Healing the sick was commonplace in Jesus’ ministry, so we should not be surprised He was approached often by people needing help. Lepers were a special category. Their condition was so dreadful they were prohibited from coming near people who did not share the illness.
On this occasion, a leper boldly came near Jesus and expressed faith that Jesus could heal him, if He were willing (Luke 5:12). Touching a leper was forbidden, but Jesus broke social protocol. He reached out, touched the leper, and healed him. As a result, so many people came to Jesus that He withdrew to a solitary place to pray.
The second situation occurred as Jesus returned to Capernaum from His teaching ministry among the various towns and villages. While Jesus was engaged in a discussion with the Pharisees and scribes, a lame man was brought by friends to the house where He was teaching (v. 18). Because the house was full of people, the men could not get inside. Desperation and faith leads people to do extraordinary things. They took their friend up onto the roof, broke through the ceiling, and let the man down into the room where Jesus was teaching.
Jesus saw their action not as an interruption but as an opportunity. The people had already seen Him heal people. Making this man whole would not change the attitudes of the religious leaders. Instead, Jesus told the lame man that his sins were forgiven. His statement was predicated on the faith of the man and his friends. Outraged, the Pharisees and scribes condemned Jesus’ assumption as an attribute that belonged only to God (v. 21).
That point was exactly what Jesus wanted to make. If He could forgive sins, He was more than a traveling healer or teacher. To prove His ability to forgive sins, Jesus healed the man. As the formerly lame man picked up his bedroll and went out, the witnesses were amazed at what they had seen and began to praise God. In both incidents, Jesus’ healing and forgiveness resulted from Jesus compassion in the presence of the subjects’ faith. Jesus came and shared God’s word in a new way that was hard for the religious leaders to accept. They were so caught up in interpreting the law from Israel’s past. They had a difficult time trying to understand Jesus.
The religious leaders gave out the traditional letter of the law. Jesus ministered in the spirit of law with compassion. Jesus’ way was different than the traditions they were used to. It becomes clearer, as time passed, why they wanted to kill Jesus. Jesus criticized the hypocrisy of leaders which worked them into a frenzy.
Jesus method of worshipping God seemed in conflict to what they understood in Deuteronomy 13.
Deut 13:1 If a prophet, or one who foretells by dreams, appears among you and announces to you a miraculous sign or wonder,
2 and if the sign or wonder of which he has spoken takes place, and he says, "Let us follow other gods" (gods you have not known) "and let us worship them,"
3 you must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer. The LORD your God is testing you to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul.
4 It is the LORD your God you must follow, and him you must revere. Keep his commands and obey him; serve him and hold fast to him.
5 That prophet or dreamer must be put to death, because he preached rebellion against the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt and redeemed you from the land of slavery; he has tried to turn you from the way the LORD your God commanded you to follow. You must purge the evil from among you.
HOPE DEMONSTRATED (LUKE 5:17-19)
17 One day as he was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law, who had come from every village of Galilee and from Judea and Jerusalem, were sitting there. And the power of the Lord was present for him to heal the sick.
Jesus’ fame brought people from all over Israel to Capernaum, where Jesus had returned. These teachers of the law were also known as scribes. More than recorders of Scripture, they were the equivalent of religious lawyers who taught and ruled on scriptural issues. The setting indicated the house was filled with religious leaders as well as people from the city.
In some places, such as Nazareth, the lack of faith among the people hindered their receiving Jesus’ healing (Mark 6:1-6, Matt. 13:58). Yet, Jesus was about to use His healing power to demonstrate an even greater aspect of His nature in the midst of religious leaders who constantly doubted Him.
18 Some men came carrying a paralytic on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus.
This paralyzed man had some wonderful friends. In their faith, they would make sure that their friend caught Jesus’ attention. They knew what Jesus had done for others and they now wanted that healing for their friend.
19 When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus.
As the group approached the entrance to the house, they encountered a problem. The house was full of a crowd of people. This crowd included the Pharisees and teachers of the law as well as those who had come because they heard Jesus was there. Interestingly, these people had come to hear spiritual teaching. However, they were not spiritually sensitive enough to make room for the paralyzed man.
True friendship would not let a simple matter like a crowd stop them from accomplishing their task. Because they could not find a way to bring him in, the men took their friend up on the roof. The architecture of that day generally featured flat or slightly arched roofs. On the outside walls, exterior stairs led to the upper floors. Roofs were covered with various materials. Smaller Galilean homes used thatched roofs. Once on the roof, the men had to break up the surface and remove parts of the roof to lower their friend. Such a procedure caused significant noise with parts of the roof falling down inside the house. Yet there was no apparent effort to stop them. A glance from the Master would have been enough to quiet any alarm the homeowner may have felt.
When the opening was large enough, the man on the stretcher was lowered into the middle of the crowd before Jesus. Imagine the looks of astonishment, and perhaps outrage, of the people as they looked up at the sight. The men looking down from the roof did not offer any apology or explanation. They did not worry about embarrassment. Their friend’s condition was statement enough. They had succeeded in getting him to Jesus.
Jesus offers hope to anyone who seeks him. We can place our trust and hope in Christ, seeking Him for our personal needs and bringing others to Him.
FORGIVENESS GRANTED (LUKE 5:20-24)
20 When Jesus saw their faith, he said, "Friend, your sins are forgiven."
21 The Pharisees and the teachers of the law began thinking to themselves, "Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?"
Forgiveness is always linked to faith. Everyone waited to see what Jesus would do, fully anticipating that He would heal the man. Jesus gave them more than they expected. No one expected what Jesus said; “your sins are forgiven”. Jesus intended to bless this man with forgiveness and, in doing so, make a major point regarding His divine nature.
The word “forgiven” involves the removal of guilt that results from sin. It carries the sense of pardon.. Several passages build on this idea of God’s sending our sin away. The psalmist declared that God separated our sin from us “as far as the east is from the west” (Ps. 103:12). The prophet Micah declared that God casts all our sin into “the depths of the sea” (Mic. 7:19).
The Pharisees and the scribes responded with questioning. They all had the same idea; they viewed Jesus as a mere man. As such, to forgive sins was to speak blasphemies. The Hebrew concept of blasphemy involved using the name of God in an unholy way or to show contempt toward God. It also involved assuming a right that belongs only to God.
Several times during Jesus’ ministry, religious leaders accused Him of blasphemy because He claimed the right to God’s name. He asserted His equality with God as God’s Son (John 10:30-33). At His trial, when Jesus confessed to being the Messiah, the Jewish leaders accused Him of blasphemy and determined He should die (Mark 14:61-64). Jesus was making that exact point. He could forgive sins because He was God.
22 Jesus knew what they were thinking and asked, "Why are you thinking these things in your hearts?
23 Which is easier: to say, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Get up and walk'?
24 But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins. . . ." He said to the paralyzed man, "I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home."
One of the Old Testament tests of a true prophet involved whether what he said came to pass. A false prophet could foretell anything, but if his prophecy did not happen he was to be put to death (Deut. 18:20-22).
Jesus knew that claiming to be the Son of Man was the same as claiming to be the Messiah (Luke 21:27). In his defense, just prior to being martyred, Stephen was given a vision in which he describes seeing “the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God (Acts 7:56). These passages connect Jesus as the Son of Man with Him being the Messiah, the Son of God.
Jesus wanted the people, especially the scribes and Pharisees, to understand that as the Messiah, He had the authority on earth to forgive sins. Jesus turned to the paralyzed man and spoke directly to him, saying “I tell you”. He gave three commands: get up, take your stretcher and go home. Jesus forgives all who come to Him in faith. Jesus is willing to forgive.
PRAISE OFFERED (LUKE 5:25-26)
25 Immediately he stood up in front of them, took what he had been lying on and went home praising God.
26 Everyone was amazed and gave praise to God. They were filled with awe and said, "We have seen remarkable things today."
Romans 10: 11 As the Scripture says, "Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame."
Some versions say that “anyone who trusts in Him will never be disappointed”. Jesus is God’s one and only mediator. We can be sure that our hope and trust in Jesus will always have righteous results.
John 10:10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
In Christ is the abundant life. He is our fulfillment, hope, peace, forgiveness, and satisfaction. And, “Oh how he loves you and me!"