Part 2: Who is this man?
- How would you define religion?
- Identify one religion or belief system from the list below and see if you can identify its core beliefs. Do you think the particular belief system you have described is liveable
- If you could ask God one question what would it be? (It might be a request for him to do something or for him to explain something
A look at the Bible
Read Luke 5:17-26
- Who had come to listen to Jesus?(v 17)
How is the meeting disturbed? (v18-19)
- What is Jesus’ response? Why is this surprising? (v20)
- How does his audience react? (v21)
- What is Jesus’ response? (v23-25).
Where ever Jesus went, he attracted crowds. His reputation preceded him. Some came because they had heard that he was able to do miracles. He healed the sick, lame people walked, deaf people heard, the blind could see again, even lepers were healed (See Luke 4:38-44 and Luke 5:12-16). Some came to hear his wise teaching and to ask questions. Some came out of curiosity; some were suspicious and came to keep an eye on him.
A large crowd had gathered in a home to hear Jesus teach. The crowd included the religious leaders of the day, the Pharisees and the law –teachers. These people had a strict view of religion. They believed that it was their duty to be as religious as possible, keeping all the commands in the Bible perfectly. They thought they did a good job of this and were proud. They compared themselves unfavourably with the others who didn’t meet their standards.
Jesus’ talk was rudely interrupted. Imagine the chaos, the dust, noise and confusion as the four men begin to break up the roof, creating a large hole and then begin to winch down their friend on his bed. They believed that Jesus could heal.
Now the idea of Jesus being able to heal may give us a problem. Hasn’t modern science and philosophy explained away the possibility of miracles. Isn’t this just a case of pre-modern superstition? Aren’t a lot of the so called healers just con-men? We’re going to come back to the whole question of miracles later but it’s worth saying at this point that the idea of someone being able to heal the sick was quite incredible back then too. Luke the doctor knew that people didn’t just get better like that. Later on he tells us with some humour about a bunch of con-merchants who operated in his time (Acts 19: 13-20). So in fact the recorded miracles result in amazement and astonishment. And that would be true of most thinking Christians today, when they get sick they go to the doctors. That’s the whole point of a miracle –something out of the ordinary. Christians do believe though that God is sovereign and able to intervene in his creation in extraordinary ways. Miracles don’t prove God’s existence. It’s the other way round. Miracles are possible if you believe in God.
But Jesus says something surprising. Instead of saying “Get up and walk,” he says “Your sins are forgiven.”
Jesus knows that the man has a bigger problem than his disability. His problem is sin. The Bible says that we all have sinned (Romans 3:23). Sin is disobedience and rebellion against God. Put like that, it seems quite offensive to suggest that we are all sinners. After all, most of us try our best to live good lives, to help others and not get into trouble.
But here is the problem. The Bible tells us that God is love (1 John 4:8). He isn’t just loving and merciful when he chooses to be. His very character is love. He loves us unconditionally; he made us and provided this beautiful world for us to live in. He cares about our every need. This loving God deserves our whole hearted love in return and so he tells us to do two things.
- Love God with your whole heart
- Love your neighbour as yourself.
The problem is that I know that I simply cannot do this. I do not love God as he deserves. Even though I try to love him some of the time, I am distracted by worries about my own life. I try to make up my own rules and principles instead of listening to him. I don’t love my friends, family and neighbours properly, in fact I get frustrated, jealous and angry with them. I end up hurting those I care about the most.
And so, Jesus knows that this man’s greatest need (and mine too) is to be forgiven. The Pharisees and Law-teachers are not happy about this. Why? Well I think we can sum up their response as “How dare he?” “How dare he declare this sinner forgiven, when he has done nothing to deserve God’s love, unlike us who have worked hard at keeping the law?” How dare he claim the authority to forgive sin, who does he think he is?” The Pharisees knew that only God can forgive sin. Jesus was making a big claim by saying that he was able to forgive. But he doesn’t just make the claim; he demonstrates his authority and power by healing the man as well
To think about
- What do you think of Jesus’ claim to be able to forgive sin? What is he saying about himself?
- What do you make of the Bible’s assessment that we have all sinned? Is that a label that you are happy to have applied to yourself?