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It's About God

Date: Feb. 22, 2009

Author: Dan Bockenfeld

Luke 5:17-26

Key Verse: Luke 5:24

“‘But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins....’ He said to the paralyzed man, ‘I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.’”

Ever wonder why Jesus did the things he did?  Some of the things he did were unusual, weird, or even jarring.  There was one instance where he made mud out of spit and put it on a blind guy’s eyes to heal him.  That’s unusual, weird and jarring.  In the last passage, Jesus touched the leper, with his festering wounds, prior to healing him.  He didn’t have to do that.  He could have just healed him.  In fact, we all could have been saved if Jesus stayed on his throne in heaven.  He is God, after all, and can do whatever he wants.  So, why did Jesus act the way he did?  That’s a hard question, but in this passage, Jesus gives us a hint on why he did the things he did.

Let’s look at the passage.  “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 to heal the sick.” (17) In the previous passages, Jesus did a lot of teaching, preaching, healing, and driving out demons.  In the beginning of this chapter, he was teaching to a crowd on the lakefront, and at the end of the last passage, it says, “…the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses.” (15) Word was getting out about Jesus and the authority he had in his teaching and healing.  It reached all the way to Jerusalem and all the Pharisees and teachers of the law wanted to find out more about this young upstart causing a ruckus in the country.  He was in somebody’s house, teaching, and religious leaders from all over the region and Jerusalem came to hear what he had to say.

While these guys were sitting there, some men came to the house, carrying this paralyzed guy on a mat.  They wanted to bring him to Jesus, but because it was so busy at the house, the men couldn’t get through the door.  “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.” (19) These guys were persistent, to say the least.  They couldn’t go through the door, so they took him through the roof.  I don’t know how they did it, but they must have jury-rigged something together to lower the man down safely.

As Jesus saw this man dangling on a rope being lowered down in front of him, his heart was moved by the faith of the men, and he said something that was quite controversial, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.” (20) Oh, that just raised the ire of those religious leaders who seated in the house.  They had their notepads in hand, writing down what was going on, and each one started to write down: “Cannot be doing any good.  Blasphemer.”  The Pharisees and teachers of the law began to grumble and think, “Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” (21) Their second question is quite true, “Who can forgive sins but God alone?”  Yet, they could not come to think that maybe Jesus is actually God.

Jesus knew their grumbling hearts and began to rebuke them as it says in verses 22 and 23, “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’?”  From Jesus’ words here we can see that the Pharisees thought Jesus was all talk.  As the saying goes, “Talk is cheap,” and the Pharisees knew that it was impossible for anyone to check to see if this man’s sins were actually forgiven.  A light didn’t pop on over his head and he didn’t become magically shiny.  He looked the same and he still couldn’t walk.  It seemed like just fluffy words to make the person feel better about the situation but not really do anything about it.  Now if Jesus said, “Get up and walk,” then there would be immediate proof of his power.  If Jesus were anything, then the man would get up and walk, but if Jesus were all talk, then nothing would happen.

Now, Jesus wanted for these people to know that he has the power of God to forgive sins.  He clearly says this in verse 24, “‘But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins....’ He said to the paralyzed man, ‘I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.’”  And lo and behold, the man got up off his mat and went home.  Jesus wasn’t all talk, after all.  I wonder how many jaws dropped when they saw the man get up.

Ok, so now the question comes to light: why did Jesus go about things this way?  There are thousands of ways to look at it.  Jesus wanted to bless the faith and persistence of these men.  Or maybe, Jesus wanted to reveal the hard hearts of the Pharisees.  It could be that Jesus really wanted to heal the man of his sin problem before healing him physically.  Or there is the possibility that Jesus want to show that he does have the authority to forgive sins.  Granted the full reason is probably a combination of all of them, but there is one more reason…the primary reason why Jesus healed this man in this manner, controversy and all…that reason is God.

Go back to the beginning of the passage.  At the end of verse 17, it says, “And the power of the Lord was present for him to heal the sick.”  Right at the beginning of this passage, the author Luke makes it abundantly clear that it is the Lord that does the healing.  Jesus couldn’t heal because he had some mysterious superpowers, but because the power of the Lord was with him.  The mention of the Lord is almost done in an offhanded manner, but it is clear that the focus is to be on God.  Why else mention it?  Jesus healed a leper without mention of the power of the Lord being present, but in this instance it is mentioned because of the Pharisees’ thoughts.  “Who can forgive sins but God alone?” 

Now look at Jesus’ words to the grumblers, “‘Which is easier: to say, “Your sins are forgiven,” or to say, “Get up and walk”?  But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins....’ He said to the paralyzed man, ‘I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.’” (23, 24) Actually, let’s read verse 24 together, “But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins....’ He said to the paralyzed man, ‘I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.’”  Take a closer look.  There are five words that give us a clue, “But that you may know…”.  Jesus healed this man in this way so that people would know something: the Pharisees, the other people present, and even those who read this passage now.  Jesus wanted for us to know the power of God.  Jesus wanted to glorify God.  This healing and the forgiving of the man’s sins took place to glorify God.  All those other reasons are secondary to glorifying the Lord.

This is not the only time in the Bible where something was done to display the work of God in someone’s life. John 9 is the story of a man born blind.  At that time, Jesus was walking in Jerusalem and his disciples saw this blind man and asked a question, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” (John 9:2) It is a natural human tendency to think that bad things happen to good people, so when the disciples saw this blind man, they wondered what horrible act he did to deserve blindness.  But Jesus saw things differently.  As it says in John 9:3, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.”  After that, Jesus healed the man.  Then, the man was brought before the Jewish ruling council to get an account of his healing.  The man did not fail to give glory to God for his healing  However, the full work of God was not in the healing but in the change made in the man.  The man’s final testimony was, “We know that God does not listen to sinners.  He listens to the godly man who does his will.  Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind.  If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” (John 9:31-33)  Before, he was a blind beggar on the streets; now because of the grace of God, he is a man who can stand in front of the Jewish ruling council and teach them about God.  This man was blind so that he could be healed and testify about the power of God.  Jesus said so himself.

And it is not just the healings and changing of lives.  Everything Jesus did was to glorify God.  Jesus was without sin and did not need a baptism of repentance, but he was baptized so that God may be glorified by marking the beginning of his earthly ministry.  As Jesus was driving out demons, he told those demons to be quiet.  They all cried out that he was the Sod of God, but he kept them silent, so that he could not take the credit.  In the passage last week, Jesus told the leper not to tell anyone about the healing, but to show himself to the priests and offer the appropriate sacrifices to honor God for the healing.  Even in prayer, Jesus sought to glorify the Father.  In his final prayer, Jesus said, “Father, the time has come.  Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you.” (John 17:1) To top it all off, the crucifixion itself is the mark of the ultimate act of giving glory to the Lord.  It was through the cross that all mankind would be redeemed, and only God could do it.  As Jesus hung there, he showed creation the love, grace, and judgment that only come from God. 

You know what all that means?  It means that your salvation is not about you.  It’s kind of hard to take, but Jesus didn’t save anyone because they were remotely special or good.  In fact, it glorifies God even more to take the vilest offenders and change them, by his grace.  As an example, it takes great skill to restore a car.  Repairing and refurbishing all the parts so that the car is once again in perfect working order is no small feat.  Most people like to take a car that is in relatively good condition and fix it up a little bit.  Now think about a car that was wrecked, set on fire and thrown into the lake.  There are about a million things wrong with that car, and nobody in their right mind would choose to use that car for anything but scrap.  But if someone were to restore it and return it to mint condition, it shows that the person who does that is the best craftsman in the world with unsurpassed skill.  How much more so in regard to people!  Only one with the ability of creation itself is capable of turning murderers, aimless wanderers, adulterers, and slackers into men and women of God of the purest sort.  Sin wrecks the soul, sets it on fire, and throws it in the lake, but God forgives our sin so that he can begin the process of restoration to show that he is a loving and all-powerful God.  In redeeming you, the whole world is to know the love and grace of God, as well as his power.

Unfortunately, people have a tendency to think that everything revolves around them.  It is normal to be selfish.  We look out through our eyes and wonder how everything affects me.  We can’t help being this way.  It is not like we can swap eyes and see things from someone else’s point of view.  It is easy to see this in light of this economic climate.  Some people are really feeling the pinch, while others are not.  There are tens of thousands of people now out of work and many more companies teetering on the brink of oblivion.  Yet, there are so many other people out there who do not want to help.  When the government wants to help, these people cry, “Why should my tax dollars go and help them?” and begin to call aid “socialism”.  But each of us who thinks this way is missing a crucial thing.  Your lives are not about you and my life is not about me.

This is something that God has made painfully obvious to me…over and over again.  My own birthday is eclipsed by Christmas.  I am the youngest in my family and therefore, least likely to get listened to.  I had plans for my life, none of which have panned out.  All these things frustrated me immensely.  I am so selfish that when I do not get my way, I am enraged.  Yet, God saved me and has been changing me ever so slowly.  But God didn’t save me to live a comfortable life; he saved me to glorify his name.  God has forgiven my sins, so that I may tell others what he has done, and that goes for every part of my life.  It is written in 1 Corinthians 10:31, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”

As Jesus gave up his last breath on the cross, the Roman centurion praised God and acknowledged that Jesus was the Son of God.  At that moment, one man knew the grace and glory of God.  In this passage, after the paralytic was healed, he got up and went home praising God.  Plus, as it says in verse 26, “Everyone was amazed and gave praise to God. They were filled with awe and said, ‘We have seen remarkable things today.’”  The people in the house acknowledged that God had done the healing and honored him as such.  With that we can see why Jesus’ healing of that paralytic gave glory to God.  People could not deny the fact of God’s power and grace.

How about in your life?  How often do you give glory to God in what you do?  Everything that the Lord does for you is so that you can recognize who he is and share it with others.  After months of trying, Mary finally has a job in architecture.  She has been to who knows how many interviews with very little prospects.  Right now, she doesn’t know how she was able to get this job.  There were other people vying for this position, but she got it.  It was all by the grace of God.  Based on this passage, Mary got the job because the Lord wanted to show her and us that he is God and what kind of God he is.  We might ask why God didn’t give Mary a job sooner.  She was in real need of a job, but there was greater need for God to be glorified through Mary and now was the right time to glorify God.

And I can tell you that it wasn’t that much different for me.  I did nothing to get the job I have.  I didn’t apply to it or even know the company existed, but God brought them to me and put that job right in front of me.  I absolutely, 100% know that God provided my job.  I can’t even take any glory if I wanted to.  He provided for me in my time of need, not because I was in need, but because I needed to learn to trust in him.  Because of this, I know more about how loving he is, how much he cares for me, and that he has control over every aspect of my life.  Plus, I can tell the whole world about God’s grace in my life, from the forgiveness of my sins to the circumstances of my employment to the establishment of my family.  I owe the Lord everything.

How about your life?  What’s going on right now?  What successes have you had?  Struggles?  Look at each and every one of them.  Do your reactions reflect God?  In tough times, it is easy to worry about one’s survival.  “How am I going to pay the bills?  Those student loans are coming due and I have no job.”  “How will I be able to stay in the country?”  “My grades aren’t so good.  I might get kicked out of school.”  But it is in those times when Jesus comes to show us God’s great glory: his grace to our lives and the love he has for us and the power he has.  We need not to focus on our own situation, but our focus should be on God.

Unfortunately, my focus has not been on God.  I have been very selfish, thinking about my own condition.  Work has been feeling like it has been eating up a lot of time and I am so tired when I get home.  There has been great stress in my life, and I couldn’t stop focusing on the situation.  But this passage is, again, a reminder that my life is not about me.  Jesus didn’t heal this man and forgive his sins because he was nice.  He did it for God, so that the whole world would know the grace, love and power of God.  That means that I don’t need to be stressed out about my situation, but remember that it is an opportunity to glorify the Lord.  God loves us and has what’s best in mind for us, but he wants to use you to show the whole world the type of God he really is, and that is a very good thing.

Let’s read verse 24 again, “‘But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins....’ He said to the paralyzed man, ‘I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.’”  Jesus healed this man to glorify God and it worked.  The man was healed and the people there praised God for his power and grace.  He went through some length to ensure that the people would know about the power of God and he continues to do so today.  Look at your lives.  Everything going on in your life is an opportunity to praise the Father and acknowledge that he is God, but that takes a step in recognizing that your life is intended to reflect God.  It is not about you; it’s about God.  I praise God for all of you and I pray that you will, too.

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Amos 6:1-14

Key Verse: 6:8b

The Lord GOD has sworn by himself, declares the LORD, the God of hosts:

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