In college, I had one particularly difficult semester while working through a personal crisis. As I slogged through the fog of a deep depression, there were a handful of Christian friends who checked on me constantly, drew me into spiritual conversations, and very lovingly forced me just to keep going. One particular friend arrived at my apartment many Sunday mornings, breakfast in hand, solely to take me to church. When I finally emerged from the deep fog, I found that my faith in God had strengthened rather than deteriorated. In faithfully serving me, my friends had also lovingly helped me draw near to God.
- How have others served you and, in doing so, helped you encounter God’s grace, goodness, and kindness?
READ THE WORD: LUKE 5:17-26 (ESV)
17 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.”
English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
- Why do you think those who strictly adhered to teaching and upholding Jewish law gathered to hear Jesus’ teaching? What do we learn about the source of Jesus’ power for healing (vs. 17)?
- Notice the order of events in verses 18-20. Whose faith did Jesus see, and what interesting choice did he make? What did his words communicate about his authority, and why did the scribes and Pharisees consider this blasphemy (vs. 21)?
- How did Jesus counter the scribes and Pharisees’ thoughts and arguments (vss. 22-23)? Why did he ultimately heal the paralytic (vs. 24)?
- What was the formerly paralyzed man’s response to Jesus’ forgiveness and healing (vs. 25)? What are the descriptive words/phrases used to convey the reaction of all those present for this event (vs. 26)? Is joy and worship your natural response when you experience forgiveness and healing?
- What important things do we learn about Jesus power, divinity, and authority in verses 17b, 22, and 24a? How do these truths impact your faith in him today?
RESPOND TO GOD
If I could sum this incredible story up in three words, they would be these: Jesus is God. In a room jam-packed with those who stood ready to test and accuse, Jesus openly demonstrated the absolute correctness of the religious leaders’ pointed question—indeed, only God could forgive sins. Jesus not only exercised his authority to forgive, but his power to heal. And this one astounding fact stood as proof: In full view of everyone present, a paralyzed man carried in on a stretcher by faithful friends walked out, carrying his own stretcher, forgiven of his sins and giving all glory to God.
- Thank Jesus for being the one who forgives sins and performs miracles.
- Ask him if there’s anyone you can serve by “carrying” them to him today.