On one of those days, as he was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there, who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was with him to heal. 18 And behold, some men were bringing on a bed a man who was paralyzed, and they were seeking to bring him in and lay him before Jesus, 19 but finding no way to bring him in, because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down with his bed through the tiles into the midst before Jesus. 20 And when he saw their faith, he said, “Man, your sins are forgiven you.” 21 And the scribes and the Pharisees began to question, saying, “Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” 22 When Jesus perceived their thoughts, he answered them, “Why do you question in your hearts? 23 Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? 24 But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the man who was paralyzed—“I say to you, rise, pick up your bed and go home.” 25 And immediately he rose up before them and picked up what he had been lying on and went home, glorifying God. 26 And amazement seized them all, and they glorified God and were filled with awe, saying, “We have seen extraordinary things today.” – Luke 5:17-16 [ESV]
One of our sons was notorious for missing sights along the highway as we were traveling in our big blue van. We would load up the 6 of us in a full-sized Dodge Ram van and hit the road. Whether to visit family in Missouri or on a cross-country adventure. One of us would point out something interesting, the rest would ooh and ahh over it, and that one son would inevitably say, “What? What was it?” He would miss it. What amazes you? What catches your attention? What may distract you? What kinds of things might you miss because you’re watching something else?
As I think about this encounter with Jesus and the paralyzed man with his four friends, there are at least three things that are noteworthy. Three things that might amaze people.
There’s the earnest effort of these four who will do whatever is necessary to get their friend to Jesus – including lowering him through a hole they had made in the roof above where Jesus was teaching. Remarkable. Amazing.
There is the grumbling of the Pharisees who are watching Jesus with the intent of shutting him down, discrediting him and his ministry. They had determined that Jesus was not the messiah. He was not to be trusted. He must be shut down. Sad. Amazingly sad.
And consider the words of Jesus: “Which is easier to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say ‘Rise and walk'”? That is an amazing question. And the question itself is worth a second look. For to say, “Your sins are forgiven,” seems really easy to say. And no one can verify or discredit the statement. But we know when Jesus asks the question, he is not being merely philosophical. Everyone can see whether his words are true if he tells the man to rise and walk. But saying that the man’s sins were forgiven will require something way more difficult than just saying the words.
And what about seeing the man take up his pallet and walk out in front of them all – at Jesus’ command? I notice how Jesus couples that with a show of his power over sin itself. Jesus shows that he has the authority to forgive sins by healing a paralyzed man.
The people’s response? “We have seen extraordinary things today.” Yes they have. All of the above are amazing. Which is most amazing to you?