weekly devotional

Week 8

February 24, 2024

Luke gives us in 5:17-26 one of the most memorable healings in all of Scripture. It involves not only a paralyzed man, but the religious leaders of Israel, the faith of (maybe 4) unnamed friends and perhaps the most memorable of all…a house renovation project. In today’s world of TV this story would be a joint venture of CBN and HGTV.

Jesus is teaching in a house (this could be the only time that we know that He taught in the middle of a house but I could be wrong) that tradition says belonged to Peter. The house is stuffed full with people and it seemed that they were even spilling onto the front porch and the driveway. Luke makes sure to tell us that there were Pharisees and other religious leaders there also. At this point they had heard about Jesus and were probably checking Him and His teachings out to see if they matched up to their legalistic standards.

And there is a paralyzed man. We don’t know his name and he never speaks. Neither do any of his friends who know about Jesus perhaps as this rabbi who heals. But they know where Jesus is and they have faith that perhaps this Jesus can do something for their friend. There was nothing that the medicine or doctors of the day could do for him. So they strap him onto some type of rudimentary stretcher and bring him to where they know Jesus is.

But there is a problem. Four guys and a fifth one who is paralyzed on a stretcher have no shot at all of getting into the house in order to get their friend in front of Jesus. Just way too many people. Maybe they think about giving up and going home. But one of them perhaps spots a staircase going up to the roof and a lightbulb goes off in his head. Homes at this time were pretty small and sometimes family activity took place on the roof just to provide more room. So all of them struggle with the stretcher up the staircase to the roof.

Once up there the demolition begins. This particular house had a tile roof so the men start hacking through it and tearing tiles away in order to make an opening large enough for them to lower their friend down on his stretcher in front of Jesus. The commotion and the dust must have cause quite an interruption to Jesus’ teaching. He probably stopped and looked up only to see a man being lowered down in front of Him.

Jesus simply tells the man that his sins have been forgiven. And this is where the uproar begins, for the religious leaders there have their theology right on at least one point. Only God can forgive sin. In their minds Jesus speaking blasphemy.

Of course Jesus knew what they were thinking and asked what was easier…to tell someone their sin was forgiven or to tell a paralyzed man to get up and go home? Obviously it would be to forgive someone’s sin because you can’t provide any objective proof of it. But as far as a paralyzed man? Ah, telling him to get up and having the man actually do it…well, there is the objective proof.

And Jesus does exactly that. He links the forgiveness of the man’s sin to healing him of his paralysis. If Jesus can heal the man of his paralysis immediately and totally, that would be objective proof that He was God and therefore had the ability to forgive sin as well.

Jesus heals him. In an instant…and not just the paralysis but also all of the conditions that went along with it…atrophied muscles, etc. The man is made whole again…not only physically but also spiritually.

I don’t want to overly spiritualize this text. This man was not spiritually paralyzed. He was physically paralyzed. But each one of us who deals with unforgiven guilt suffers from an amazingly paralyzing force. If you suffer from that kind of paralysis, if there’s a sin that has haunted you for years and years, that has spoiled your ability to live fully as a Christian, this story tells you what to do about it, because there’s only one cure for guilt and that is forgiveness. And here is the One who has the power and authority ultimately to say “I forgive you.”

February 24, 2024