We are still in chapter 5 of the book of Luke today, and Jesus is doing some teaching. Pay close attention to the last sentence of the following verse.
Luke 5:17 One day while Jesus was teaching, some Pharisees and teachers of religious law were sitting nearby. (It seemed that these men showed up from every village in all Galilee and Judea, as well as from Jerusalem.) And the Lord’s healing power was strongly with Jesus.
I find it really interesting that the Bible points out that Jesus was operating with a lot of healing power at this point in time. It really sets the stage for the next few verses, so let’s check them out.
Luke 5:18-20 Some men came carrying a paralyzed man on a sleeping mat. They tried to take him inside to Jesus, 19 but they couldn’t reach him because of the crowd. So they went up to the roof and took off some tiles. Then they lowered the sick man on his mat down into the crowd, right in front of Jesus. 20 Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the man, “Young man, your sins are forgiven.”
I know I say stuff like this all the time, but I just love the way that Jesus operates. So much of who he is revolves around delivering opposites. We deserve to pay for our sins, he pays for them instead. We deserve eternal judgment, he delivers eternal paradise. We desire wealth, he desires to give. We desire revenge, he desires we forgive. He’s not just about showing us a better way, so often he’s about showing us a way that never even entered into our minds before we met him.
So in these verses, you’ve got a great group of friends who bring their paralyzed friend to be healed by Jesus. I know it doesn’t say they were friends, but I feel like you gotta love someone to care enough about them to carry them on a mat to a house, then climb onto a roof, dismantle it, and lower the sick friend to a strange man who is apparently capable of healing. That’s either family members or close friends right there! May we all be blessed to be loved enough to be carried to Jesus in such a manner should we ever need it!
The fact is, these people went to great lengths to get the sick person to Jesus. Remember that sentence I pointed out above from verse 17? “And the Lord’s healing power was strongly with Jesus.” Jesus was already becoming known for healing people. Even though we’re still relatively early in the account of his ministry, we’ve already seen many verses where the Bible details specific healings AND multiple “off camera” healings. Jesus’ reputation as a man who could heal people preceded him to this place, and I can say that with confidence because if it hadn’t, why else would these men have gone to such lengths to get their paralyzed friend in front of Jesus?
They lowered him down with an expectation of healing. Physical healing. And that is not what Jesus delivered. Like I said, opposites, remember? They came seeking physical healing. Jesus’ response? “Young man, your sins are forgiven.” He gave them a spiritual healing instead.
In the moment, I can understand the fact that some of these people, maybe even the paralyzed person, might have had some disappointment. After all, when we set our own expectations for a situation, we are disappointed when those expectations aren’t met. But Jesus knew that there was no truer healing than the forgiveness of sins. Physical bodies decay and eventually die, but a redeemed soul lasts for eternity. Given the choice between healing and salvation, there isn’t even a comparison, I don’t care what sort of agony or awfulness you may be enduring in your physical body. Forgiveness trumps all, it is the single most valuable thing in existence, and even though it’s not what they were after for their paralyzed friend, it’s what these people got here in the book of Luke.
Among my favorite things that God has shown me in my Bible studies was something I later taught a lesson on called “the temporary versus the eternal”. It’s a point that’s been talked to death in the faith, and as such it’s one that Christians especially turn a blind eye to. Some lessons we hear too much and as such we never end up learning them. Yet there are few lessons more important than this one, and it’s what Jesus was showing with his bold and opposite of expectations “healing” he did by forgiving the paralyzed man’s sins. The value of eternal things (accepting Jesus, serving God, loving others, helping those around us, etc) infinitely exceeds the value of temporary things (sin, entertainment, money, distractions, etc). But for some reason, our society has it flipped backward. Temporary is king, while eternal is an afterthought. Sometimes eternal is a not-even-thought.
I was hoping for a good verse to illustrate this idea of how fleeting our time on earth is, and I believed I’d find it in Psalms. Sure enough, David delivered, as he so expertly puts things into perspective. Check this out.
Psalm 39:4-7 “Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered— how fleeting my life is. 5 You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand. My entire lifetime is just a moment to you; at best, each of us is but a breath.” Interlude 6 We are merely moving shadows, and all our busy rushing ends in nothing. We heap up wealth, not knowing who will spend it. 7 And so, Lord, where do I put my hope? My only hope is in you.
Oh, that we we would focus more on the healing of our souls and our hearts with the same passion and desperation we seek the healing of our bodies. Our bodies have been dying for a long time now, and they’re going to continue to slowly die. That’s maybe a morbid statement, but it’s a fact. Our souls, however, are immortal. The only question is what you did with your temporary stay here on good ol’ planet Earth and if you grabbed hold of the eternal gift of forgiveness that Jesus had for you.
Jesus didn’t disappoint the paralyzed man, and he didn’t disappoint the man’s friends, either. He answered a temporary request with an eternal response, because he’s Jesus and that’s the scope of his love. I implore, challenge, ask, request, whatever word works for you, I use that word to ask you to give more weight to the eternal in your life. We are eternal beings who have been deceived into giving up our birthright for a bunch of sub-par temporary distractions. Today is a beautiful day to take back your focus and get back to living in a manner that sets you up for a better eternity. We’re going to be there forever, so let’s do what we can to make it the best forever possible.
That’s it for today, my friends. I love all of you, and I’m very thankful to have this outlet to write about the Bible. It’s such an amazing book about such an amazing Lord, I just can’t get enough of it.
Oh, and just because I love what it says about who Jesus is, here’s one last verse from this whole moment in Luke.
Luke 5:24-25 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!” 25 And immediately, as everyone watched, the man jumped up, picked up his mat, and went home praising God.
Jesus had a whole other point he wanted to make to the religious elite in the room at the time, so he ended up physically healing the paralyzed man after all. Sometimes he answers prayers not just with one blessing, but with two!
If you’ve got a prayer request or just want to talk, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.