Thanking the Source: Luke 5:17-26

Focus Passage: Luke 5:17-26 (CEV)

17 One day some Pharisees and experts in the Law of Moses sat listening to Jesus teach. They had come from every village in Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem.

God had given Jesus the power to heal the sick, 18 and some people came carrying a crippled man on a mat. They tried to take him inside the house and put him in front of Jesus. 19 But because of the crowd, they could not get him to Jesus. So they went up on the roof, where they removed some tiles and let the mat down in the middle of the room.

20 When Jesus saw how much faith they had, he said to the crippled man, “My friend, your sins are forgiven.”

21 The Pharisees and the experts began arguing, “Jesus must think he is God! Only God can forgive sins.”

22 Jesus knew what they were thinking, and he said, “Why are you thinking that? 23 Is it easier for me to tell this crippled man that his sins are forgiven or to tell him to get up and walk? 24 But now you will see that the Son of Man has the right to forgive sins here on earth.” Jesus then said to the man, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk home.”

25 At once the man stood up in front of everyone. He picked up his mat and went home, giving thanks to God. 26 Everyone was amazed and praised God. What they saw surprised them, and they said, “We have seen a great miracle today!”

Read Luke 5:17-26 in context and/or in other translations on BibleGateway.com!

Perhaps it is just a matter of semantics, or simply looking too closely at the details of this passage, but in this passage is a subtle shift of wording that I find very interesting. As our passage opens, Jesus is teaching in a crowded home, and it is much too crowded to bring someone in to be healed by Him on a stretcher or mat. But this does not discourage this crippled man’s friends because they realize that the roof is not as crowded, and that there is ample “airspace” to lower their friend right in front of the One they know can heal him.

And this is what they do. What I find interesting is not found in the persistence of this man’s friends, but in Jesus’ words surrounding this healing and in the crowd’s response.

We are unsure what Jesus was teaching on immediately before being interrupted by the man and his friends, but Jesus’ first words don’t relate to healing but to forgiveness of sins. This causes a significant stir amongst the leaders present, because forgiveness of sins is an ability reserved only for God, and Jesus seems to be claiming He is capable of it as well.

The phrase Jesus says that stands in contrast to what the crowd reacted to is this: “Is it easier for me to tell this crippled man that his sins are forgiven or to tell him to get up and walk? But now you will see that the Son of Man has the right to forgive sins here on earth.” (v. 23-24a)

This stands in contrast to what happens after the man is healed: “He picked up his mat and went home, giving thanks to God. Everyone was amazed and praised God.” (v. 25b-26a)

It seems as though Jesus was pushing the religious leaders about who He was, and subtly drawing the focus to His role and mission on earth. However, the crowd, and even the man who was healed, seemed to be more focused on praising the God behind the miracle instead of getting caught up in the tension present over Jesus’ forgiveness comments.

While the Pharisees and experts debated over Jesus, the crowd was praising God – and this is exactly what Jesus planned to happen. Jesus stumps the Pharisees while inspiring praise to God.

In my own life, when I see blessings come my way, it is less about thanking the specific source of the blessing and more about praising the God who is the ultimate source of this blessing. That is one lesson I see Jesus teaching us here.

This thought was inspired by studying the Walking With Jesus "Reflective Bible Study" package. To discover insights like this in your own study time, click here and give Reflective Bible Study a try today!

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