Whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Rise up and walk? But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power upon earth to forgive sins, (he said unto the sick of the palsy,) I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy couch, and go into thine house. — Luke 5:23-24
Florence Crawford, the founder of the Apostolic Faith Church, was born to pioneer parents in 1872. Although her mother and father did not believe in God and often discounted the Bible in their home, something in young Florence’s heart yearned for God. One time, when she was asked to sing prior to a lecture by a renowned atheist, she sang “Jesus, Lover of My Soul,” effectively putting a damper on the lecture!
After she was married with two young children, she heard the call of God while dancing in a ballroom. She prayed for several days, wrestling with the enemy of her soul, and then went to the home of a woman she knew was a Christian. There, Jesus came into her heart and made a wonderful change!
Although she rejoiced in what God had done for her, Florence had numerous physical ailments that inhibited her from living to the fullest. Three bouts of spinal meningitis early in life had severely affected her head and eyes. She had lung and heart trouble that drove her to try a number of remedies. She also had been thrown from a carriage as a girl, and had to wear a brace in order to walk.
After being sanctified and receiving the baptism of the Holy Ghost, Florence began seeking God for her healing. God miraculously healed her eyes and she no longer needed to wear glasses. Another time, God touched her lungs and heart. One night after she was prayed for Florence took off her brace and walked twenty-three blocks with no pain, something she previously had been unable to do. Each time God healed her, she witnessed the same power of God that had saved her.
In our text, a man with a form of paralysis was brought to Jesus to be healed. First, Jesus said to him, “Man, thy sins are forgiven thee.” This caused a stir among the scribes and Pharisees, who did not believe that Jesus was divine and had the authority to forgive sins. Jesus then asked which was easier: to forgive sin or to heal. Of course, He had the power to do both!
The world today still questions the identity of Jesus and challenges His authority. Jesus was not a pretender. Nor was He a radical preacher or an attention-getting revolutionary. He was far more than a great rabbi or a man with extraordinary power to do miracles. He was and is the Son of God! Jesus still has power today to save souls and heal bodies. What He did for Florence Crawford and the paralytic in today’s text, He can do for us. Whatever our needs, whether they be spiritual or physical, we can bring them to Jesus and trust Him to meet them.
Today’s text relates the calling of Jesus’ disciples and His healing of the leper and paralytic. Luke’s narrative in verses 1-11 begins after the crowd had gathered, explaining the slight differences from Matthew’s and Mark’s accounts, which begin as Jesus walked by the sea.
The “lake of Gennesaret” (verse 1) was another name for the “Sea of Galilee.” This body of water is 685 feet below sea level, around seven miles wide and twelve miles long. Its abundance of fish made it a well-known fishing spot during Jesus’ time. Because Jesus’ renown had generated large crowds, causing the people to throng Him, Jesus got into Peter’s boat and asked him to push away from the shoreline.
Luke did not expound on what Jesus taught, but focused on what occurred after He finished speaking. Peter was a seasoned fisherman, but after fishing all night and catching nothing, he willingly did what Jesus commanded. The statement, “Launch out into the deep” (verse 4), implied the fishermen needed to take their nets into deeper water, rather than the common practice of fishing near the shoreline. The word “draught” indicated that their obedience would result in a large catch. The ensuing miracle astounded the fishermen and made Peter feel unworthy in the presence of Jesus’ power and holiness. The assurance that He would make them “fishers of men” caused Peter, James, and John to forsake the fishing business and follow Jesus. Although Andrew is not mentioned in this text, he is included in Matthew’s and Mark’s accounts, indicating that he was also there.
Verses 12-15 recount the healing of the man with leprosy, a dreaded disease that resulted in the afflicted person being separated from society. As a physician, Luke’s statement that the man was “full of leprosy” indicated that his whole body had been affected by the disease. The man’s faith was evidenced by his belief that Jesus could heal him even at that advanced stage. After healing him, Jesus commanded the former leper to go and show himself to the priests and make the appropriate offering, as the Law required (Leviticus 14). Jesus also told him not to tell anyone, possibly indicating His desire for people to come to Him for spiritual cleansing, rather than just physical healing. Nevertheless, Jesus’ fame continued to spread, and multitudes came to hear His teachings and be healed of their diseases. Verse 16 emphasizes Christ’s need to get away from the crowds and spend time in prayer with His Father.
Verses 16-26 describe the healing of the man with palsy, a type of paralysis. Luke’s reference to the religious leaders who came from as far away as Jerusalem — a distance of around eighty miles — highlighted the controversy and curiosity that Jesus’ teachings had generated. When the friends of the palsied man brought him on a pallet to be healed, the crowd was too large for them to get through. Houses in that day were built with flat roofs and often had staircases or ladders on the outside to provide access to the roofs. The roof tiles were probably plates of burnt clay, and the four friends removed the tiles above where Jesus was teaching so they could lower the sick man to where He stood. Seeing their faith, Jesus’ first response was to forgive the sick man’s sins. Observing that the religious leaders disputed His ability to forgive sins, Jesus responded that He would prove His authority by healing the sick man, alluding that it took the power of God to both heal and forgive.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
IV. The ministry of the Son of Man
B. The course of the ministry of the Son of Man
1. The call of Simon (5:1-11)
a. The instruction (5:1-3)
b. The demonstration (5:4-9)
c. The invitation (5:10-11)
2. The cleansing of the leper (5:12-16)
a. The request (5:12)
b. The response (5:13)
c. The caution (5:14-16)
3. The cure of a paralytic (5:17-26)
a. The claim (5:17-21)
b. The authentication (5:22-26)
In all circumstances of life, we can rely on Jesus’ power to respond to every need as we put our faith and trust in Him.