PhD’s, Pharisees, a Paralytic, and Jesus (Luke 5:15-26). Do you know any “paralytics”? Do you know people with a paralyzed life? Do you know people with a paralyzed marriage, paralyzed family, paralyzed by addictions, paralyzed by sin? Religion rejects them. Jesus wants to heal. Are you carrying them to Jesus, or just to “church”? These men cared enough about their friend to carry him to Jesus.
THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO LUKE CHAPTER 5 by Pastor Delbert Young
PhD’s, Pharisees, a Paralytic, and Jesus (Luke 5:15-26)
PhD’s, Pharisees, a Paralytic, and Jesus Luke 5:15-26
Scriptures: Luke 5:15-16; Luke 5:17; Mark 7:13; Luke 5:17; Luke 5:18-19; Luke 5:19; Luke 5:20-21; Luke 5:22-25; Luke 5:26
Last time we talked about Jesus healing the leper and the leper telling everyone creating even larger crowds coming to find Jesus.
Luke 5:15-16 Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that CROWDS OF PEOPLE CAME to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. BUT Jesus OFTEN withdrew to lonely places and prayed.
Crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed. BUT – conjunction – Jesus Often withdrew… The way Jesus dealt with pressures of life was OFTEN withdrawing. The people lined up and Jesus left town. They came from everywhere, BUT Jesus disappeared and he did it OFTEN. We all need to learn from this. We all need to take some time off away from everyone. That’s good, but have you ever taken time off away from everyone and spent that time with God? You didn’t do anything else other than dedicate that time to spending it with God? I have taken time to fast and pray, rented a cabin, and spent time with God. I did it occasionally. Jesus did it often. I wonder how different our lives would be if we did that? I know some of you are going through things right now in your life and you need to go get alone with God in a lonely place and pray.
Luke 5:17 One day as he was teaching, PHARISEES AND TEACHERS OF THE LAW, who had come from every village of Galilee and from Judea and Jerusalem
Who had come from every village and as far away as Jerusalem? I don’t know about you, but this looks like a plan, a setup, to come together to address, correct, and indict Jesus and his doctrine. Luke is telling us this wasn’t the normal crowd. This was a religious crowd converging on Jesus with the best religious PhD’s and Pharisees from everywhere who somehow all arrived the same day including those coming from Jerusalem, the religious capital, a hundred and twenty miles away. Do you smell a rat? They were going to prove Jesus was a fake. (I see Jesus “licking his chops.”)
Here is Luke’s introduction of the Pharisees and teachers of the Law (KJV – doctors of the law). Luke’s not mentioned them until now. The teachers of the law are the scribes. The scribes and Pharisees are predominating and cameo again and again. They were and are the arch enemies of Jesus. The disdain for these people by Jesus will erupt in Matthew 23 when Jesus massively rebuked them with eight “Woe unto you scribe and Pharisee hypocrites…”They showed Jesus and people they couldn’t get by with that by arresting and crucifying Jesus a few days later. Scribes and Pharisees are mean and vindictive religious people.
Scribes are the ones with degrees – the doctors of the law, the PhD’s, the educated elite. They were “religious lawyers” who graduated from the learning centers of their day. They were the highly trained professional expert theologians. They wrote books developing doctrines by writing their personal interpretation as to how scriptures should be lived out. For example, God gave a Sabbath day, or a day off for everything to rest. The scribes placed rules from their personal interpretation of how people could/could not rest. Jesus preached against the scribes doctrines and had little patience with them.
Mark 7:13 Thus you NULLIFY THE WORD OF GOD by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do MANY THINGS like that.”
Their purpose was noble in that they wanted people to obey God’s word, but they created many things. They added 600 doctrines that obscured and nullified God’s word by adding man-made doctrines. The man-made doctrines of the teachers of the law and Pharisees actually cut them off from God and God’s salvation making them, Jesus said, children of hell (Mat 23:15; John 8:44).
The Pharisees were less educated and sometimes not educationally educated at all, but powerful. I want to make certain we understand something. The Pharisees were “laymen.” They were not professionals. Pharisees were subservient to the scribes with each Pharisee catering to and following around his favorite scribe enforcing the doctrines his scribe taught and created. They were powerful because without a following, the scribe meant nothing. So, the Pharisees were/are the elders, deacons, leaders, and all followers enforcing the teachings of their scribe pastor.
Let’s say a popular television preacher preaches a doctrine of holiness, but his interpretation of living a holy life is condemning tobacco, television, movies, wearing jewelry, or any use of alcohol. Though the Bible doesn’t say anything about tobacco, television, movies, not wearing jewelry, and does not condemn the use of alcohol (but does the excess), all the followers of that preacher, including other preachers, preach his doctrine enforcing the television preacher’s doctrine. As you know, many things like this happen every day today.
Here’s what I’m wanting us to see. There is some Pharisee in all of us and some scribe in me. We all critique and all have some religious ideology based on how some preacher interpreted scripture. I’ve seen a person’s ideology be not to be religious, so they express great liberty. You can be a tattooed, tobacco consuming, alcohol consuming, partying religious person who critics and criticizes everyone who doesn’t have liberty like you. That’s still being a Pharisee and scribe. My point is not if we are Pharisees and scribes, but rather how do we respond when we see we are in error?
That’s a quick intro to the Pharisees and teachers of the law. For now, remember Jesus’ disdain then and now for those people. To Jesus, they poisoned people toward God and toward people needing God.
Luke 5:17 One day as he was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law, who had come from every village of Galilee and from Judea and Jerusalem, WERE SITTING THERE. AND THE POWER OF THE LORD WAS PRESENT FOR HIM TOHEAL THE SICK.
Jesus, a year into his ministry was famous. The scribes and Pharisees came to check him out and were sitting there. Get the picture. The power of the Lord was present for him to heal the sick. Jesus wanted to heal the sick, but the crowd of PhD’s and Pharisees had the chairs full sitting there with laptops opened looking for free Wifi ready to Facebook, blog, and twitter about Jesus. Their Bible programs were running along with the commentaries they wrote. Jesus wanted to heal. The scribes and Pharisees wanted to critique.
Luke 5:18-19 Some men came carrying a paralytic on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus. When they could not find a way to do this BECAUSE OF THE CROWD…
The crowd was the Pharisees and teachers of the law. Certainly they attempted to get through the crowd, but the religious people would not make a way. The paralytic was a worthless lowlife to them. As usual, the religious people were in the way. They always block people getting to Jesus.
Do you know any “paralytics”? Do you know people with a paralyzed life? Do you know people with a paralyzed marriage, paralyzed family, paralyzed by addictions, paralyzed by sin? Religion rejects them. Jesus wants to heal. Are you carrying them to Jesus, or just to “church”?
These men cared enough about their friend to carry him to Jesus. We are not told how far they carried him, but the context is it was some distance. It was far enough they were not going to be detoured. So, they put more thought and effort into it. They had an initial plan that got the paralytic there. Now what?
Luke 5:19 When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, RIGHT IN FRONT OF JESUS.
I’ve seen some dramatic entrances, but this was a dramatic entrance. Luke says all that in a sentence, but that was intense. First, tiles were only on the houses of the more wealthy. Most houses were roofed with boards, straw, and mud. Jesus was in a nice and obviously large home. It took effort and time, not to mention ripping open the roof of a wealthy person’s house. Can you see them?
They needed plan “B,” so maybe one of them gets close enough to see where Jesus was sitting in the house. He looks up at the roof and visually marks the spot. Roofs were flat and served as a patio for eating and a place to sleep in literal air conditioning. Roofs were not difficult to access with external stairs, but carrying a paralytic man up would be. They hoisted up their friend onto the roof, and then tore a hole in someone’s roof. Dust and rubble fell all over those inside of the house including Jesus. Everything stopped inside. People were yelling at them, “What are you doing up there? Stop!” But they didn’t stop. They lowered their friend through the hole – big hole. Everyone is looking up and backing away from falling debris and dust. The paralytic was lowered down into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus.
Here is a main thought for today. To what extremes do we go to get someone right in front of Jesus? Have you ever gone to extremes to get someone to Jesus? Have you ever made a plan and made the plan work? Someone began the plan and went to more people to make the plan work. That’s a great idea. Get people praying with you and helping you. Together, those men were determined to get their friend to Jesus. Are you working on anyone? Do you have anyone working with you, planning with you, and helping you carry and get your paralytic right in front of Jesus. If your plan runs into an obstacle (often religious people), don’t give up, come up with plan “B.” Spend some energy. Carry them to church? Tear something apart to get past the Pharisees. When people yell “Stop!” don’t stop.
Back in my cotton mill days, a man named Billy Rollins worked for me and I wanted to get Billy to Jesus. I invited him to church, but he wouldn’t come. One day, as I was leaving work, I saw Billy at his car with the hood up. I drove to him and asked what was wrong. His starter was shot. I offered to take him to get one, but Billy didn’t have any money. I told him I had some money, hop in, we’ll go get you a starter. We did, we came back, and Billy crawled under his car to replace the starter. I squatted down and waited though he told me to go home. I told him I would wait and make certain he got it going. We conversed. I never said anything about church. It took him maybe thirty minutes to replace the starter. He asked me if I would turn the key to see if it would crank. I did and it did. Billy crawled out wiping grease off his hands with a rag and asked me if he could go to church with me Sunday. I smiled and said, “Of course.” Billy was there and that very Sunday Billy walked down the aisle to give his heart to Jesus. I’ve given books to people. I’m constantly giving CDs and DVDs. My point is I’ve never gone to a little trouble for someone when it didn’t eventually help bring them right in front of Jesus. It might have taken a while, took some planning, took some energy, and maybe a little money, but I can’t remember one time when I did something that took a little time and effort that didn’t get someone right in front of Jesus. What are you doing right now to get someone paralyzed in some way to Jesus? Make a plan. Do something a little out of your way. It will work.
What were the thoughts of the people watching as the paralytic was being lowered? The situation was dramatic. “This could be something! Are we about to watch Jesus heal this man?”
Luke 5:20-21 When JESUS SAW THEIR FAITH, he said, “Friend, YOUR SINS ARE FORGIVEN.” The Pharisees and the teachers of the law began THINKING TO THEMSELVES, “Who is this fellow who speaks BLASPHEMY? WHO CAN FORGIVE SINS BUT GOD ALONE?”
This is a big verse. First, how do you “see” faith? Do you see faith by demonstration, or what the Bible refers to as “works” (Jam 2:18). But, whose faith got the paralytic forgiven and healed? It was the faith of the paralytic’s friends, not only the paralytic’s faith! This was a powerful demonstrative faith anyone could see. Never underestimate the power of your faith to bring someone you love to Jesus, to their forgiveness, and to their healing.
But, of what was the faith about? Healing? Jesus said, “Friend, your SINS are forgiven.”What’s up with that? The man was paralyzed and needed a miraculous healing, not forgiveness of sins, right? Obviously not! He needed forgiveness first and then he could receive miraculous healing. Note the link. If you need healing, first check with God about your forgiveness. Of what might you need forgiveness? You must be in touch with your heart. God is. You don’t want to go to a doctor who misdiagnosed your health. That’s deadly. Don’t misdiagnose your heart.
Forgiveness is actually the heart of this passage and the heart of the gospel – forgiveness. Jesus wasn’t forgiving the man for interrupting his sermon, which I understand. He was forgiving his sins, making him acceptable to God. No other “religious leader” says your sins are forgiven – not Mohammad, Buda, Krishna, none. No other religion forgives your sins. Jesus preached the greatest message ever preached – forgiveness of sins. Forgiveness is the single most important blessing God gives. Forgiveness is the door to eternal life and forgiveness only comes through and by Jesus Christ.
This was a high water mark in Jesus’ ministry. Jesus was saying he was God for God alone can forgive sins. They had not heard that one before. Jesus gave forgiveness to an obvious sinner. We’ve seen Jesus deliver people from demons in the spiritual realm, control the natural realm when he directed fish into a net, control the physical realm with healing, but this is different. This is “only God alone” realm. They thought he was blaspheming God. The truth is if he is not God, he is a blasphemer. If my sins are not forgiven then my salvation is false. Do you believe Jesus has truly forgiven you of your sins? Is Jesus real?
Jesus used the paralytic to stage an assault on the teachers of the law and Pharisees. Their intention was to find evidence to indict Jesus. Jesus intention was to incite them by giving them evidence he was exactly who he said he was. “Who can forgive sins but God alone?”This stunned the scribes and Pharisees. It rattled them. Who has that kind of power? Their heads were spinning. Jesus was acting like God.
Luke 5:22-25 Jesus knew what they were thinking and asked, “Why are you thinking these things in your hearts? WHICH IS EASIER: TO SAY, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? BUT THAT YOU MAY KNOW that THE SON OFMAN has authority on earth to forgive sins” He said to the paralyzed man, “I TELL YOU, get up, take your mat and go home.” Immediately he stood up IN FRONT OF THEM, took what he had been lying on and went home praising God.
The favorite and only way Jesus referenced himself was the Son of Man. It’s a reference in Daniel (7:13-14). Son of Man is a Messianic majestic title of divinity. The scribes and Pharisees knew exactly what it referenced. It’s the first time Luke used the title. It’s the first time Jesus used the title. Luke will use it twenty-four more times. Jesus referencing himself as the Son of man was BIG and the scribes and Pharisees didn’t like it.
So, which is easier to SAY, “Your sins are forgiven,” or “Get up and walk”? The question is “say.” So, which is easier to “SAY”? It’s easier to say, “Your sins are forgiven.” No one can see if it really happened. However, if you say, “Get up and walk,” and it doesn’t happen, you are a fake and blasphemer. Jesus said you are thinking I’m saying it in blasphemy. So, let me do this for you. “Watch this.” Looking at the paralyzed man, he said, “I TELL YOU, get up, take your mat and go home.” Jesus said, “I TELL YOU… man is incapable of neither forgiving sins nor saying get up and walk, but God is capable of both. Therefore, Jesus must be God.
We get a look at the power of forgiveness. When forgiveness takes place, something that paralyzed us for years is corrected. It no longer paralyzes your life.
The paralytic’s illness was connected with his sins. We studied the leper needing cleansing. This paralytic needed forgiveness. Jesus didn’t forgive sins every time he healed, but he did here. Delbert, are you saying if I am sick it’s because of sin. Not necessarily, but possibly. I know bitter and unforgiving people are sick a lot. If your diet can make you sick then certainly sin can make you sick. If stress and high blood pressure can cause a stroke, paralyzing a person then certainly sin can. It’s foolish to totally discount sin when dealing with sickness. This is something the individual must examine in their own heart as they get in front of Jesus.
Luke 5:26 Everyone was amazed and gave praise to God. They were filled with awe and said, “WE HAVE SEEN REMARKABLE THINGS TODAY.”
What had they seen? They saw forgiveness at work. They saw a miraculous healing. They saw an undeniable miracle. They saw God! The Pharisees and teachers of the law saw it with their own eyes right in front of them. They heard it with their own ears, but it won’t matter to a scribe or Pharisee. They are leavened. They are poisoned. No matter what you show most of them, they refuse to change.
Some of you need to get alone and get on your mat in front of Jesus. I say that for two reasons: (1) Some of you are going through tough times. You don’t need counseling or to go off with people for a few days. You need to withdraw to a lonely place and pray. God has your solution. (2) Others of us need to look at our hearts. Do we need forgiveness? Some of us have too much scribe and Pharisee in us because we are listening to Pharisees. Stop critiquing everyone and making your own laws about what God wants and expects. We all need to do a better job of getting our friends to Jesus. For whom do you have a plan to get to Jesus? Can Jesus see your faith? What are you doing to demonstrate it? What roofs are you tearing a hole in?
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