This week my community group discussed the healing of the paralytic in Luke 5. During our time some great discussion and questions came up. Why did Jesus heal him? Did Jesus literally heal the man physically? What about healers today? So I though it would be good to do some further study and thoughts about this. Here is the passage that we covered.
17 One day He was teaching ; and there were some Pharisees and teachers of the law sitting there, who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem ; and the power of the Lord was present for Him to perform healing. 18 And some men were carrying on a bed a man who was paralyzed ; and they were trying to bring him in and to set him down in front of Him. 19 But not finding any way to bring him in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down through the tiles with his stretcher, into the middle of the crowd, in front of Jesus. 20 Seeing their faith, He said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven you.” 21 The scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, “Who is this man who speaks blasphemies ? Who can forgive sins, but God alone ?” 22 But Jesus, aware of their reasonings, answered and said to them, “Why are you reasoning in your hearts ? 23 “Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins have been forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk ‘? 24 “But, so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins,”-He said to the paralytic -“I say to you, get up, and pick up your stretcher and go home.” 25 Immediately he got up before them, and picked up what he had been lying on, and went home glorifying God. 26 They were all struck with astonishment and began glorifying God ; and they were filled with fear, saying, “We have seen remarkable things today.”– Luke 5:17-26
Jesus Christ displayed unique power to heal the sick, and lame while here on Earth. He used different methods and performed them at different times & places. These miracles were performed for several reasons that went beyond the mere physical act. These acts of healing are to be taken as literal, actual accounts as witnessed by others, and recorded in the bible. The miracles performed by Jesus were done to in part to point to Him as the promised Messiah.
As Jesus begins His ministry He goes into a synagogue and quotes from Isaiah 61:1-2 and then declares that He is the Messiah.
And Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about Him spread through all the surrounding district. 15 And He began teaching in their synagogues and was praised by all. 16 And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up; and as was His custom, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath, and stood up to read. 17 And the book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him. And He opened the book and found the place where it was written, 18 “THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD IS UPON ME, BECAUSE HE ANOINTED ME TO PREACH THE GOSPEL TO THE POOR. HE HAS SENT ME TO PROCLAIM RELEASE TO THE CAPTIVES, AND RECOVERY OF SIGHT TO THE BLIND, TO SET FREE THOSE WHO ARE OPPRESSED, 19 TO PROCLAIM THE FAVORABLE YEAR OF THE LORD.” 20 And He closed the book, gave it back to the attendant and sat down ; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on Him. 21 And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” – Luke 4:14-21
In Matthew we see Jesus begin his teaching, preaching, and healing ministry, and how it begin to grow. News spread quickly.
23 Jesus was going throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people. 24 The news about Him spread throughout all Syria ; and they brought to Him all who were ill , those suffering with various diseases and pains, demoniacs, epileptics, paralytics ; and He healed them. – Matthew 4:23-24
Christ’s healing ministry demonstrated several key points:
- Christ has the authority to forgive sins
“But, so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins,”-He said to the paralytic –“I say to you, get up, and pick up your stretcher and go home.” Luke 5:24
- Fulfillment of the messianic prophecy in Isaiah 42:1-4
14 But Jesus, aware of this, withdrew from there. Many followed Him, and He healed them all, 16 and warned them not to tell who He was. 17 This was to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet : 18 “BEHOLD, MY SERVANT WHOM I HAVE CHOSEN ; MY BELOVED IN WHOM MY SOUL is WELL-PLEASED; I WILL PUT MY SPIRIT UPON HIM, AND HE SHALL PROCLAIM JUSTICE TO THE GENTILES. 19 “HE WILL NOT QUARREL, NOR CRY OUT; NOR WILL ANYONE HEAR HIS VOICE IN THE STREETS. 20 “A BATTERED REED HE WILL NOT BREAK OFF, AND A SMOLDERING WICK HE WILL NOT PUT OUT, UNTIL HE LEADS JUSTICE TO VICTORY. 21 “AND IN HIS NAME THE GENTILES WILL HOPE.” – Matthew 12:15-21
- To let people see the works of God on display in Christ
Jesus answered, “It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents ; but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him. – John 9:3
- To call people to believe that Jesus is the Christ
Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book ; 31 but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God ; and that believing you may have life in His name. – John 20:30,31
What about healing today?
Many people, often known as televangelists, have carried out healing ministries. These people claim to have the power to instantly heal people from all sorts of illnesses & diseases. As can be understood there tends to be a realm of skepticism around the legitimacy of such abilities. There does not appear to be much evidence in the validity of modern healers on a grand scale. Perhaps a key factor in the viewing modern day healers may be His warning concerning end times? Jesus warned that in the last days of people claiming to be Christ that will come to perform such signs and wonders in order to try. The purpose will be to deceive. Most modern healers do not actually claim to be Christ, but this passage serves as a warning.
“And then if anyone says to you, ‘Behold, here is the Christ; or, ‘Behold, He is there; do not believe him; 22 for false Christs and false prophets will arise, and will show signs and wonders, in order to lead astray, if possible, the elect. 23 “But take heed ; behold, I have told you everything in advance. – Mark 13:21-23
Still, we are admonished in James to pray for the sick and suffering.
13 Is anyone among you suffering? Then he must pray. Is anyone cheerful? He is to sing praises. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; 15 and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him. – James 5:13-15
We recognize that God still has the power to heal people, but that it is His sovereign will as to whether or not someone receives physical healing.
Scripture is filled with the miraculous. Sometime it is difficult to understand the difference between a literal or figurative event. As we grow closer to Jesus, study Scripture, and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal things to us, we can have greater trust in the claims of Scripture. We can believe what seems to be the impossible. But like with the paralytic man, Jesus is focused on what needs to healed the most, and that is our broken relationship with God the Father. Ultimately, being forgiven is our greatest and sufficient blessing.