Luke 5:17-26 The Helpless and Hopeless Paralytic Restored 6/27/99
#1. The Unforgiven Paralytic
· Paralyzed, but yet a sinner (Eph 2:1-3)
· He could not come on his own (John 6:44,64-66)
#2. The Man With Authority to Forgive (John 10:11,14-16,26-30)
· The Man with authority to restore (Luke 5:24-25)
· He was sent on his way
#3. We Are Former Paralytics
· Our sins were forgiven in 33 AD
· We forgive one another (Matt 6:14-15, Jam 5:9)
· We learn to live with our handicaps (Phil 1:6, 4:13)
Luke 5:17-26 The Helpless and Hopeless Paralytic Restored 6/27/99
Please open your Bibles to the Gospel according to Luke, chapter 5, and we begin at verse 17.
Before I begin to read this story, let me remind you again: 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. Saved? Become saved from what? Saved from going to Hell! That is why God wrote the Bible! 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 takes center stage in our Worship Services.
Now, when you open your Bibles to 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.
Lu 5:17 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.
Lu 5:18 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.
Lu 5:19 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.
Lu 5:20 And when he saw their faith, he said unto him, Man, thy sins are forgiven thee.
Lu 5:21 And the scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, Who is this which speaketh blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone?
Lu 5:22 But when Jesus perceived their thoughts, he answering said unto them, What reason ye in your hearts?
Lu 5:23 Whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Rise up and walk?
Lu 5:24 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.
Lu 5:25 And immediately he rose up before them, and took up that whereon he lay, and departed to his own house, glorifying God.
Lu 5:26 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 under the wrath of 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.
#1. Let’s Look at the Unforgiven Paralytic
· He was paralyzed, but yet a sinner (Eph 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.” (Ro 3:11) We were unwilling and we were unable to come to Jesus Christ. The Bible says it so clearly in Eph 2:1-3. (Please turn to Ephesians 2)
Eph 2:1 And you (speaking to the church) (hath he quickened), who were dead in trespasses and sins;
Eph 2:2 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:
Eph 2:3 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, 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. (Rom 10:17) God uses people to bring the true Gospel to those whom God intends to save.
In order to become saved 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 become saved if you only hear the false gospel that they preach in that church? You never hear the truth. And-the answer is NO, you do not become saved. How can you become saved if you are in a church where the true Gospel is not preached? You never hear the Truth.
First you must hear the Truth that the Word of God proclaims, the True gospel. But the true Gospel is repugnant to the natural man. The true Gospel cuts down our pride and our self respect. But then how will anyone listen to the true Gospel? NO ONE will, unless God interferes. Please turn to the Gospel according to John. John 6:44. There, we see it in a little more detail. The Lord Jesus said:
Joh 6:44 No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.
· Now, that is not a nice thing to hear, that we are unable to come to Christ, unless God Himself chooses to draw us unto Christ.
· That is not a nice thing to hear, that we cannot make any contribution to our salvation.
· That is not a nice thing to hear, that we cannot trust in our own action of water Baptism.
· That is not a nice thing to hear, that we cannot trust in our action of accepting Christ as our Savior.
But that is what the Bible says. It is entirely God’s decision whom He is going to save, and God is not going to share the credit with anyone else. Here in John, chapter 6, the Lord Jesus Christ is making sure that we understand this principle that all the credit goes to God and none to us. Four times in this chapter does the Lord Jesus repeat this principle that no man can come to Christ unless the Father draws him. Listen to what the Lord Jesus says toward the end of this chapter 6, in verses 64-66.
Joh 6:64 But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him.
Joh 6:65 And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.
Joh 6:66 From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.
You see, this is not a Gospel that is attractive to people. People want their pride and they want Jesus too. That is why they invent other gospels that are more attractive. They start with the Bible, but then they make changes. What they are doing, of course, is they are making up their own idols, and bowing down to their own idols. But God is underscoring the fact that we are saved by Grace, entirely by God’s Grace, and not by any of our own works. You see, spiritually we were like this paralytic who could not come to Jesus on his own. But when God sends someone our way with the true Gospel, then we are confronted with:
#2. The Man With Authority to Forgive: The Lord Jesus Christ (John 10:11,14-16,26-30)
The Lord Jesus is both Man and God the Son, the second person of the Trinity. He is the only one who has authority to forgive sins. Not another human being. Only God can forgive sins. And, when Jesus said to the paralytic: “Man, thy sins are forgiven thee” the scribes and Pharisees began to reason within themselves: “Who is this which speaketh blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone?” they were absolutely right: It is only God Who can forgive sins. Particularly, it is Jesus Christ who can forgive sins. Why is that so? Well, what does it take to forgive?
Is it enough to say: I am sorry? Is it enough to say: I forgive you? Is that the end of it? No, that is not the end of it. God is a Righteous Judge, and His Law demands that every sin must be accounted for. Every sin must be paid either in Hell, or it must be paid by the Lord Jesus on the cross, where He paid the full price of our sins, the equivalent of an eternity in Hell for the sins of those people He came to save. In John 10:11,14-16, it is outlined so clearly. Please turn there and listen to what the Lord Jesus said about the cross:
Joh 10:11 I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. (What is He talking about? He’s talking about going to the cross. Did He give His life for ALL mankind? NO, for the sheep.) In verses 14-16, He says:
Joh 10:14 I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.
Joh 10:15 As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep.
Joh 10:16 And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd. (Who is He talking about in this last verse? Us.)
The Lord Jesus says in verse 10: “the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep”. And He says in verse 15: “I lay down my life for the sheep.” Which sheep? They are the sheep that He is referring to in verse 14. Paraphrased, the Lord Jesus says: “Not everyone is My sheep, but I know my sheep and My sheep know Me”. In other words, He is not dying on the cross for every human being in the world, but only for His sheep. I did not say that. Jesus said it. Jesus repeats this statement in the following verse: “I lay down my life for the sheep”.
Jesus says that He is paying for all their sins on the cross. He is also implying that, at some point in the life of those sheep, “they shall hear my voice”. The last verse says, “they shall hear my voice”. By the Grace of God, “they shall hear my voice”. You see, God’s Grace cannot be resisted. So we speak of God’s irresistible grace. It is God’s grace for all those for whom Jesus died on the cross. Well, what about those who are not His sheep? Those who are not His sheep remain at enmity against God. In the same chapter of John, drop down to verse 26:
Joh 10:26 But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you.
Joh 10:27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:
Joh 10:28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.
Joh 10:29 My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand.
Joh 10:30 I and my Father are one.
You see, the Lord Jesus Christ is the Redeemer who bought back His own sheep, but He is also God. He said: “I and My Father are one”. That is why He is also:
· The Man with the authority to restore the body. (Luke 5:24-25)
Please turn back to the Gospel according to Luke, chapter 5; there we read in verse 24:
Lu 5:24 But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power (authority) 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.
Lu 5:25 And immediately he rose up before them, and took up that whereon he lay, and departed to his own house, glorifying God.
The Lord Jesus is underlining the principle that He has the authority to forgive sins because He took up the sins of this paralytic, and He took up the sins of everyone else He came to save, and He satisfied the Law of God by paying for those sins, on the cross, what was required by the Law of God. Then the Lord Jesus showed that He also has the authority to renew the body. Now, that is glorious news! It means that we can look forward to that glorious day when Christ will come again, the second time, and give us a new glorified body. What a wonderful day that will be! We will be glorifying God forever into eternity. Look at how this paralytic responds (Luke 5:25): And immediately he rose up before them, and took up that whereon he lay, and departed to his own house, glorifying God.
But all the way going home he was glorifying God. That is a picture of us when we are going Home in our glorified bodies. We are glorifying God into eternity. You see, this former paralytic does not have a name. He typifies all those who have become saved, or are becoming saved.
#3. We Are Former Paralytics
I would not say restored paralytics, because that is kind of an oxymoron. But, we are former paralytics. We were in desperate need. We were spiritually paralyzed and we did not know it. Our help came only after we learned that we were in desperate need of salvation. First we had to hear the true Gospel, which begins with the fact that we all were in rebellion against God from the day we were born. And God, in His great mercy, gave us a heart that was seeking for Him. Only then could we cry out to God for mercy. Only then. And all that was possible because:
· Our sins were forgiven in 33 AD when Christ hung on the cross.
God gave us a new heart. That is why we want to live a life that is glorifying to God. And since the Spirit of God now dwells within us (our souls), we have a desire to live in a way that it is pleasing to God. Now, let me focus on one aspect of that: Since we were forgiven,
· We also forgive one another (Matt 6:14-15; Jam 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 Matt 6:14-15:
Mt 6:14 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:
Mt 6:15 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 Matt 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. (Ps 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 saved, 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:
Jas 5:9 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”. (Rom 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 (Phil 1:6, 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 hear 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. The question is; how can we do that? 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” (2Cor 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”. (Phil 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. The Hymn we are going to sing emphasizes that same theme. It is a plea for Christ to abide with us and strengthen us till the end of days; He is a Helper of the helpless, that is what the Hymn says, and that is what the Bible says. He is a Helper of the helpless; He alone can strengthen us till the day we die;
The Hymn goes:
Abide with me; fast falls the eventide; The darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide.
When other helpers fail, and comforts flee; Help of the helpless, O abide with me.
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” (Phil 1:6)
The last stanza of that Hymn goes:
Hold Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes, shine through the gloom, and point me to the skies;
Heaven’s morning breaks and earth’s vain shadows flee; In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.
Let us pray.