Verse of the Day Devotion Luke 5:20 

“And seeing their faith, He said, Friend, your sins are forgiven you.” –  Luke 5:20 

This verse references the healing of a paralytic; however, it ends with an interesting focus. 

Luke begins by speaking about a paralytic who is journeying to find healing.  He uses here the term paralytic, but in various other places uses the term ‘crippled’.  Joel B. Green in his commentary on Luke states, “At this time, the lame were banned from the priesthood in Israel and, at Qumran, were excluded from full participation in the community. Alienation seems to have been their fate in Luke’s world too.” Jesus sought to overturn the concept of alienation of cripples as we see in, “But when you give a reception, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, since they do not have the means to repay you; for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” Luke 14:13, as well as “And the slave came back and reported this to his master. Then the head of the household became angry and said to his slave, ‘Go out at once into the streets and lanes of the city and bring in here the poor and crippled and blind and lame.” Luke 14:21.

This account starts with Jesus teaching some Jews. “And it came about one day that He was teaching; and there were some Pharisees and teachers of the law sitting there, who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem; and the power of the Lord was present for Him to perform healing.“ Luke 5:17. And while this was going on, “And behold, some men were carrying on a bed a man who was paralyzed; and they were trying to bring him in, and to set him down in front of Him. And not finding any way to bring him in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down through the tiles with his stretcher, right in the center, in front of Jesus.” Luke 5:18-19.  There was a great crowd there and it was not possible to carry him to Jesus, so they got on the roof and let him down right in front of Jesus.  He saw this action as a major showing of ‘their’ faith,  not just the of the crippled man.  Hence, “And seeing their faith, He said, Friend, your sins are forgiven you.” Luke 5:20.

Note, this was not just a passive statement as, ‘God forgives you’. And the Jews correctly understood what was meant.  “And the scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, Who is this man who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone?” Luke 5:21.  They completely believed Jesus had committed blaspheme by speaking of forgiving this man’s sins for Jesus, as the leadership saw Him, was not qualified to forgive sins for only God could.  Blaspheme was a frequent charge leveled against Jesus. There are no Old Testament analogies to Jesus’ actions here. Today, due to this passage, ministers make a clear distinction between a pastor’s pronouncement of God’s forgiveness of sins and the direct forgiving of sins by the pastor/priest.  

Now, Jesus had knowledge of what they were thinking.  He was the Son of God and nothing was hidden from Him.  So He asks them why they were questioning/reasoning this in your hearts.  And then, “Which is easier, to say, your sins have been forgiven you, or to say, rise and walk?” Luke 5:23.  And without giving them any opportunity, He tells them, “But in order that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins, He said to the paralytic, I say to you, rise, and take up your stretcher and go home.” Luke 5:24.  Jesus’ authority to forgive was no less effective because of its invisibility.  However, it will be proved by healing the paralytic. The authority to heal and the authority to forgive are the same authority that Jesus received at the baptism by both the endowment of the Holy Spirit and the Father’s declaration of divine sonship. “Now it came about when all the people were baptized, that Jesus also was baptized, and while He was praying, heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in bodily form like a dove, and a voice came out of heaven, “Thou art My beloved Son, in Thee I am well-pleased.” Luke 3:21-22.

In our focus verse, one thing Jesus was showing was that the healing of the body was less important than the forgiveness of a man’s sins.  What good would it be if a man’s legs were healed if he ended up eternally lost?  Jesus was not saying the paralyzed man was especially sinful, or that sin was the cause of his paralysis. Instead, He addressed the man’s greatest need, and the common root of all pain and suffering, man’s sinful condition.  Plus, this gave Him the opportunity to show the Pharisees and the Scribes just who He was, the Son of Man.  “I kept looking in the night visions, And behold, with the clouds of heaven One like a Son of Man was coming, And He came up to the Ancient of Days And was presented before Him. And to Him was given dominion, glory, and a kingdom, That all the peoples, nations, and men of every language Might serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion which will not pass away; And His kingdom is one Which will not be destroyed.” Daniel 7:13-14.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.

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