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Bible Gemz 820 - Forgiving sin; the ultimate authority (Luke 5:17-26)

May 29, 2019

Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the man, "Young man, your sins are forgiven." 

But the Pharisees and teachers of religious law said to themselves, "Who does He think He is? That's blasphemy! Only God can forgive sins!" 

Jesus knew what they were thinking, so he asked them, "Why do you question this in your hearts? 

Is it easier to say 'Your sins are forgiven,' or 'Stand up and walk'? 

So I will prove to you that the Son of Man has the authority on earth to forgive sins." Then Jesus turned to the paralyzed man and said, "Stand up, pick up your mat, and go home!" 

And immediately, as everyone watched, the man jumped up, picked up his mat, and went home praising God. 

Everyone was gripped with great wonder and awe, and they praised God, exclaiming, "We have seen amazing things today!" (Luke 5:17-26)



This is a crucial section of this story and biblical truth. It is almost like the healing is secondary to the forgiveness of sins. Is that right? The man came to be healed but seeing their faith, Jesus says to him, "Young man your sins are forgiven." But he didn’t come to have his sins forgiven; he came to be healed. Jesus by passes the paralysis and goes straight to the real problem. Sin sickness. I told you in Gemz 433 – Healing - that we would deal with the issue of Healing being in the atonement at that time. I still intend that to be the case. However at this time suffice to say that Jesus seems less concerned with the outer carcass and more concerned with the inner being. He is more concerned about our sin sickness than our bodily ailments. That much is clear from this passage. 


"Your sins are forgiven you". My goodness what a thing to say! We can forgive people, that is not a problem. We forgive them for the things they do against us. The wrong they have done to us. The hurts they have caused, the neglect, the indifference as well as other wrong doing. But when it comes to sin, all of us know that ultimately sin can only be forgiven by God. In the words of the song Jesus It is You by Ben Manusama, "All of my days, all of my rights, all of my wrongs".  Even when we think we are in the right God's standard often leaves our best righteousness looking rather shabby. Only God can forgive our sin. That was very clear to anyone who is a Pharisee. "Pharisees" have a habit of projecting the law on others. Jesus had much to say about this attitude. But in this situation, when surrounded by a gathering of Pharisees from every village in Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem itself, Jesus highlights the main issue: sins and how they are forgiven. 


Interesting isn't it that Jesus goes straight to the heart of the issue. The heart of your problem, the heart of mine is our sin. There is much debate about this section among the experts as to what Jesus meant by this discussion and the link between forgiving sins and healing.

1) Jesus makes a direct connection between the man's sin and his sickness. 

2) Jesus is merely referring to the popular belief of the connection between the two. 

3) Jesus affirms the generic link between sin and sickness, I.e with sin, sickness enter this world. But He doesn't say the man's sickness is personally because of his own personal sin.    


I think this discussion is more for the sake of the Pharisees who are prone to be judgmental and categorize people and insist that all sickness and bad things which happen are formulaic and because of sin. The issue is can the Son of Man forgive sin or not? They react in an interesting way. "Who does he think he is?".  "This" [houtos]  is a derogatory use. Who is this upstart who thinks he is the equal with God who is the only one to forgive sin? They knew who He was. He had just completed a tour of ministry in Galilee and Judea and Jerusalem. You can bet His name was on all their lips. They knew where He was from, His lineage, His family, they knew too what He had been doing. They also knew what people were saying about Him. Luke has made this clear to us.  I am sure this challenge "Who is this?" was said with derision and malice. It was not meant to be a straight question seeking to know who He was. They knew and wanted to counter His claim and what the crowd were saying.  


There is an interesting difference between Luke and the Matthew and Mark. In Matthew and Mark the construction "are forgiven"; in Luke's account the construction rightly reads "have been and remain forgiven". Many of us adopt the viewpoint of Job's mates. Your sickness or your plight, your suffering must be a result of your sin. There is a direct link. You have sinned therefore you are sick. It is couched in formulaic terms. So if anything is wrong then it must be your sin that caused it. So you can be entirely free if only you don't sin. But we are born into sin, we are sinners by being on this earth and subject to the human condition. We don't even have to think about sin to sin. It is a human condition. I don't believe the paralytic's healing was by virtue of the fact that he repented and confessed his sin. The link between sin and sickness was not the major contingent factor to be dealt with before his healing could be received. Jesus is merely going straight to the heart of the human condition. Then when challenged by the pharisaical spirit, He asks "Which is easier to say? "Your sins are forgiven" or "Stand up and walk"? You want proof that I have the authority to forgive sin? Alright then "stand up, pick up your mat and walk."   


The link here is that when Messiah (the Anointed One) comes He will make the blind to see and the lame to walk etc. There will be signs that accompany His ministry. Jesus effectively says 'You doubt my word and my authority to forgive sin, well let me show you.  This whole section has been about the escalating authority given to the Son of Man, even to the point of forgiving sin. Yes only God can forgive sin, but Jesus has that authority too. [All authority on heaven and earth had been given to Him]. When the crowd see all this happening I am sure they must have cast their minds back to the sermon Jesus preaching in Nazareth a short time before and marveled. This was indeed what was said of the Messiah and what he would do when He came and here Jesus was doing it all. 



Jesus knows the cost of grace. He knows the price of forgiveness. But he offers it anyway. Max Lucado


The cross is where God forgave his children without lowering his standards. Max Lucado


Strive to be first: first to smile, first to nod, first to compliment, and first to forgive! Rick Godwin





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