A Study of Luke 5:17-26
Before we look at this story, let me say this: The Bible is not a storybook. The Bible is not a history book. The Bible is not a book that tells you stories about a people that lived a long, long time ago in a land far, far away; and so it becomes a story that really does not touch you personally. The Bible is supposed to touch us personally. This is the Word of God. This is God speaking to us about salvation.
The reason God wrote the Bible is so that we can become saved.
Become saved from what?
Saved from going to Hell!
That is why God wrote the Bible! To make His elect children aware of the fact that they are wretched lost sinners in need of salvation and that the hope of salvation is found only in the shed blood of Jesus Christ.
When we read the Bible, the first thing we should ask is: “What did God say?”
Then, suddenly, every sentence and every word becomes important, because these are the Words from God. It is God speaking directly to us. And then the next question we should ask is: “What has this to do with salvation?”
Already in elementary school I have heard this story that we are going to read. It is not unfamiliar to you. It was presented to me as one of the many stories from the Bible. You know, already in those days did they had “books about the Bible”, not from the Bible itself; I never heard read from the Bible itself.
But God did not write these stories in the Bible to amuse us with some stories. Then you might as well read Grimm’s Fairy Tales because there you also find the moral of a story. That is not why God wrote these stories. God wrote these stories in the Bible so that we may recognize in these particular words that God put down the Gospel of Salvation, the Good News of the forgiveness of sins through Jesus Christ. That is what is in the center, the center focus of the Bible. The Bible is to take center stage in our Worship Services.
Now, when we read the Gospel according to Luke, chapter 5, beginning at verse 17, we have here a story about a healing miracle that takes place in a house, in the city of Capernaum. Capernaum, that is in Galilee.
And it came to pass on a certain day, as he was teaching, that there were Pharisees and doctors of the law sitting by, which were come out of every town of Galilee, and Judaea, and Jerusalem: and the power of the Lord was present to heal them.
And, behold, men brought in a bed a man which was taken with a palsy: and they sought means to bring him in, and to lay him before him.
And when they could not find by what way they might bring him in because of the multitude, they went upon the housetop, and let him down through the tiling with his couch into the midst before Jesus.
And when he saw their faith, he said unto him, Man, thy sins are forgiven thee.
And the scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, Who is this which speaketh blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone?
But when Jesus perceived their thoughts, he answering said unto them, What reason ye in your hearts?
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.
And immediately he rose up before them, and took up that whereon he lay, and departed to his own house, glorifying God.
And they were all amazed, and they glorified God, and were filled with fear, saying, We have seen strange things to day.
Now, here is the story of a man who is healed of palsy.
What is palsy?
Palsy is a shorter form of the word “paralysis.” Here is a man who is paralyzed, totally helpless. His four friends were trying to bring him to Jesus, but the house was so full with people that they could not get through. So they went on the housetop and let him down through the roof right before the Lord Jesus Christ. And then Jesus healed him and made this man able to walk. That, in summary, is the story.
Why did God put this story in the Bible?
What has this to do with salvation?
We have to look carefully at the words that are written. Verse 20 says: And when Jesus saw their faith, he said unto this paralytic: “Man, thy sins are forgiven thee.”
There are four things that are immediately evident from this verse:
1. Jesus saw their faith. They believed that Jesus, the miracle worker, could make this man walk again. But did they believe in Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God? NO, not at all! You know that, if you read the context.
2. Prior to this moment when he was eye to eye with Jesus, this paralytic had sins which were not yet forgiven. For that reason, before this paralytic was eye to eye with Jesus, he was still in an unregenerate state before God, on the way to Hell.
3. But at that moment when Jesus said: “Man, thy sins are forgiven thee” all his sins were forgiven, all of his past, present and future sins. This man became saved at this instant.
4. Could Jesus have forgiven him most of his sins, but have left in him one or two of his sins?
No, that is not possible. That is not possible because, if we are found before the judgment throne of God with only one sin, we go to Hell. We are under the wrath of God. So that is not possible. Jesus forgave him ALL his sins.
Now, let us take a closer look at this paralytic before he was brought to Jesus.
He was paralyzed, but yet a sinner (Ephesians 2:1-3)
This man could have been paralyzed from birth. The Bible is silent about that. But yet, he is a sinner.
How much sin can a paralyzed man commit?
You would have to admit, it is not much. But yet, he is a sinner at heart and a sinner in his thought processes. On top of that, he is paralyzed. He cannot come to Jesus on his own strength.
Now, is this not a picture of all of us?
Is this not the way we all are by nature?
The Bible says we all are sinners from birth: “The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies.” (Psalm 58:3) That talks about these cute little babies. On top of that, we were spiritually paralyzed. The Bible says that “There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.” (Romans 3:11) We were unwilling and we were unable to come to Jesus Christ. The Bible says it so clearly in Ephesians 2:1-3.
And you (hath he quickened), who were dead in trespasses and sins;
Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air (Satan), the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:
Among whom also we all had our conversation (conduct) in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.
That is speaking about us!
Spiritually speaking, we all were dead corpses. We were dead in trespasses and sins. We were as dead as Lazarus who was in the tomb four days. Lazarus was a stinking corpse, unable to make a move toward Jesus until Jesus called him and until Jesus gave him the ability to hear and the strength to come out of the tomb. Just like this paralytic, we could not come to Jesus on our own initiative. That is the teaching of the Bible. We were not only helpless but we were also hopeless, because by nature we could not see our helpless and hopeless condition; that we were on the way to Hell. We were as hopeless in our spiritual condition, as this paralytic was in his physical condition.
He could not come to Jesus on his own (John 6:44, John 6:66-68)
But God gave him four friends who introduced him to Jesus.
Is not that a beautiful picture of how God works in our lives?
God uses people to accomplish His goals. God uses people to bring the Gospel to whomever He will. That is why God says: “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:17) God uses people to bring the true Gospel to those whom God intends to save.
In order to come to a knowledge of the truth we first have to hear the true Gospel, not a false gospel.
Let me give you an example. Suppose you are in a Mormon church, listening to the gospel that is preached in that church.
Can you ever be converted if you only hear the false gospel that they preach in that church?
You never hear the truth. And-the answer is NO, it is not possible to come to a knowledge of the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ and to believe in Him and trust in His finished work on the cross alone if you only hear a false gospel.
We also forgive one another (Matthew 6:14-15; James 5:9)
Now, is that really so?
Are we willing to forgive one another?
You see, this is not an option. This is one of the outward signs which show if we have been saved. The Lord Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount, after He gave us what is called the Lord’s prayer, in Matthew 6:14-15:
For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:
But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
That sounds very ominous. “If ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
God is NOT stating here a condition for our salvation. (Something we must do in order to become saved.)
We cannot be saved by our works, because then part of the glory goes to us.
We must be saved by the work of the Lord Jesus Christ.
We are saved entirely by the Grace of God. God is saying here in Matthew 6:14-15 that one of the characteristics of a saved person is: Forgiving.
Now, how is this forgiving character in us manifested?
Is it enough to say: “I forgive you”?
No, that is not enough. We must forgive as God forgave us; in that way.
How does God forgive?
As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us. (Psalm 103:12)
Then, if we must forgive like God forgave us, does that mean we may not have any resentment against anyone; not even a grievance against anyone; not even a grudge against anyone?
That is a tall order, isn’t it?
The fact is it is an impossible order. You cannot do it. God has to do it for you. That is why you first must be regenerated, and then it is not only possible, but it is mandatory.
Not even a grudge!
I am not giving you all the verses to support that this is what God requires, but let me just give one, which sounds ominous enough:
Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned: behold, the judge standeth before the door.
Now that sounds very, very stern.
What do you think the meaning is of those words: “lest ye be condemned”?
Now we know that, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus”. (Romans 8:1)
Therefore, when God says: “Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned”, God is giving a command to the Christian community that is as plain and simple as it comes: We are not allowed to bear grudges, or grievances, or resentments.
That means: We must learn to live with our handicaps (Philippians 1:6, Philippians 4:13)
Let me explain what I mean by that:
(1) We have been forgiven what we have done to God, and that was a whole lot.
(2) We have been spiritually restored; but
(3) that includes that we have to live with some of the leftovers in our bodies.
Let me give an example: Suppose someone stole your son or your daughter. That is a pretty grievous crime. And now your son or daughter is in a false gospel. And, you know what that means. If he doesn’t believe the true gospel, he’s going to Hell!
Suppose in the past someone cut off your left arm. What a Horrible idea! What a Painful experience! But now you have become a Christian and you have read in the Bible the command from God that you must forgive and forget.
How are you going to forget?
You are handicapped for life! Every time you look on that stump on your left side you are reminded of that horrible experience and you are reminded of the person who did it.
But God commands us to let go of our grievances.
What is the solution?
Again, the solution is not in our hands. The solution is with God.
The first step is: Have you been saved?
Only you and God can know that!
If you have not been saved, forget this assignment; you have a far greater problem at your hand!
If you are saved, then remember why God has left you in this world.
Why did God not rapture you up into Heaven immediately?
You are ready for it. Then you don’t have to suffer any more. But, you see, God left us in this world to show to the world how the Grace of God and the Power of God are able to do mighty works in us and through us. We are left in this world because “we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ”, or “a sweet fragrance of Christ” (2 Corinthians 2:15) That is why we are left in this world.
It is only through the Grace of God that we can be somewhat Christlike, but that is entirely by the grace of God. It is entirely God’s work in us and through us. God has left us in this world to show the world, for example, that we can forgive like Christ forgave His tormentors.
So, when you look to your left side and see there only a stump, ask God to help you in letting go of your resentments, and your grievances, and your grudges. All these have to be put to rest.
Your life must go on in a God glorifying way; which means you must learn to live with your handicaps. You must learn to live with the leftovers of your previous life without resentments. You cannot do it. And it is only God who can do it for you.
O yes, there is something you can do: You can pray for that person who did it to you. If that person is still alive, you pray for that person who did such horrible things to you. Pray for that person’s salvation. How wonderful it would be if that person would also become saved. But most importantly: Prayer changes you! Your resentments and grievances and your grudges will melt away when you pray for that person who grieved you so badly. Ask God to help you and you will find out that you can say with the Apostle Paul: “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me”. (Philippians 4:13) And you can do this impossible thing of forgiving that person who did these horrible things to you.
But without His presence within me I am helpless and hopeless like a paralytic. And therefore, it is His presence within me that really counts. We need Christ to abide with us and strengthen us till the end of days; He is a Helper of the helpless. He is a Helper of the helpless; He alone can strengthen us till the day we die;
Even now Christ is helping us who cannot help ourselves. He gives us the assurance that “He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6)
By Alfred J. Chompff