A Study Luke 5:17-26
Seeing their faith, he said to him, “Man, your sins are
Unless otherwise noted, all quotations from the Holy Bible are from the World English bible
(divine name supplied in the New Testament where appropriate,
placed in brackets [ .. ]).
“It happened on one of those days, that he was teaching; and there were Pharisees and teachers of the law sitting by, who had come out of every village of Galilee, Judea, and Jerusalem. The power of [Yahweh] was with him to heal them.” (Luke 5:17) The statement of verse 17 shows the rapidly growing influence of our Lord even at this early stage of his ministry. From the wilderness scene of temptation and victory he had gone into Galilee filled with the power of the holy spirit, and his fame had gone out through all that region. He had taught in their synagogues and been glorified of all. He had come down to Capernaum, and the people were astonished at his doctrine, for his word was with power. He had healed the sick and the lepers, and had cast out devils, and the multitudes thronged about him continually. And so great was the attention which his teaching and his works attracted that Pharisees and doctors of the law came out of every town of Galilee, and Judea, and Jerusalem to hear and to see. — Luke 4:14-16,22.
We note also that Luke attributes the source of Jesus’ power to the God of Jesus. The power of the Yahweh was in him. This agrees with what Peter later stated, that “God anointed him with Holy Spirit and with power,” so that Jesus “went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.” (Acts 2:38) Thus these scriptures attribute the source of Jesus’ power to the God of Jesus, so that the multitudes “marveled and glorified God, who had given such authority to men.” — Matthew 9:8; see also Romans 15:6.
We next notice the great faith that so perseveringly brought the palsied patient to the attention of the Great Physician. Being unable to reach Jesus through the crowds that continually thronged about him, so great was their faith in his healing power that they removed a portion of the tiling from the roof, and, with his couch, let him down over the heads of the people. This persevering, trusting faith in Christ speedily received its reward — the forgiveness of sins and healing.
We notice that the forgiveness of sins was the first blessing — “Seeing their faith [the faith of the sick man and those interested in him], he said to him, ‘Man, your sins are forgiven you.'” This evidently was an unlooked for answer. The previous miracles of healing doubtless led all to expect a similar manifestation of healing power; but as yet it was not manifest. There lay the sufferer before them all while the people pondered this claim of the man of Nazareth to have power on earth to forgive sins, probably while the Lord was proceeding with his discourse, not allowing this incident to interrupt it entirely. But there were some whisperings among the scribes and Pharisees present, who said, This is blasphemy. Who can forgive sins but God alone? (Luke 5:21) Though their murmuring words did not reach the ear of the Lord, he perceived their thoughts. Our Lord did possess the power, as given to him by his God, to know what others were thinking. However, it is possible that their cynical faces doubtless told the tale of their scorn and unbelief; and their influence upon the people who looked to them as leaders and teachers was also manifest. Has this man indeed power to forgive sins? has he authority from God to this effect? is he indeed the Messiah, the sent of God? — these were the questions revolving in the minds of the people. And it was to awaken these thoughts that the Lord had said it. His words implied the claim of Messiahship.
In a sense it is true that none could forgive sins but God alone, except as his
anointed and authorized agent and representative, and in his appointed way. The divinely appointed way for the cancellation of sins was by means of the ransom as the legal settlement of the penalty, and faith in Christ the Redeemer. — Romans 5:12-19; 1 Corinthians 15:21,22; 1 Timothy 2:5,6.
The faith of this man and his friends in the one sent by God and his claims had been put to the test and manifested, and though the ransom price had not yet been actually given, the Lamb for sacrifice had already been presented by our Lord at his baptism, and had been accepted of God and was considered as on the altar of sacrifice. And therefore, in view of the completion of consuming and acceptableness to God of that sacrifice, and its ultimate presentation by Jesus to God in heaven, Jesus, perceiving their faith, could then say, “Your sins are forgiven.” We observe that the healing did not follow as a result of the forgiveness of sins. The forgiveness of sins was one thing, and the healing was another; and Luke’s words as recorded in Luke 5:17 lets us know that the same divine authority that was necessary to the forgiveness of sins was also necessary to the healing; and that if the forgiveness of sins was blasphemy, so also was the healing. From what they had seen, they must all admit his power, and consequently also his authority, to heal, and that the authority and power must be from the God and Father of Jesus. And this power and authority they must therefore recognize as the divine testimony of his claims to be the Son of God and the Messiah of Israel. Thus, Jesus asked: “Which is easier to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you;’ or to say, ‘Arise and walk?'” (Luke 5:23), for the same authority and power are necessary to both. “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, arise, and take up your cot, and go to your house.’ Immediately he rose up before them, and took up that which he was laying on, and departed to his house, glorifying God.” (Luke 5:24,25) We note that the paralyzed man did not give the glory to Jesus, but rather to the God and Father of Jesus. The account continues: “Amazement took hold on all, and they glorified God. They were filled with fear, saying, ‘We have seen strange things today.'” (Luke 5:26) Again, the glory was given to the God and Father of Jesus, not directly to Jesus, who was the instrument being used by Yahweh.
Thus our Lord called attention to his miracles of healing as the divine testimonials of his claims to be the Son of God and the long-looked-for Messiah of Israel — the Anointed of Yahweh, to whom was intrusted the great work of taking away the sin of the world, and subsequently of healing men of all their infirmities, these all being part of the wages of sin. “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” said John (John 1:29); and Jesus endorsed that statement by his subsequent claim to have power on earth to forgive sins. And the Father also endorsed his claim by granting him the power to do many wonderful works in the sight of all the people.
While the forgiveness of sins is an assurance that the healing, or removal of the penalty of sin, will surely follow, as the palsied man doubtless considered it and waited for the healing, it does not signify that the recovery from the penalty will immediately follow. The Gospel Church, for instance, receives the forgiveness of sins in this Gospel age; but not until the dawning of the Millennium will she be actually delivered from sickness in the flesh. If this were not so, then we should expect that the believer would be so completely healed in the flesh that the flesh would live forever. The development of the inward man however continues, however, while the outward man, the sinful flesh, continue to decay until it is dead. (2 Corinthians 4:16) Thus the believer should not expect full physical healing from sickness and death in this age. It is not God’s will for the church to fully healed physically, for the church is being called to suffer with Christ, not to be without sickness in the flesh. (Romans 8:17; Philippians 1:29; 2 Timothy 3:12) But in due time the power that accomplishes the one will accomplish the other also; and by and by those miracles of grace which brought health and gladness to so many in Israel, and which attracted the attention and were the astonishment of that whole nation, will be totally eclipsed by the wonder-working power and authority of this same Jesus exalted to power and dominion over the whole earth as the mighty Prince of peace, who, having in the days of his flesh redeemed the world by the sacrifice of himself, comes again to heal all their infirmities and to restore them to the fulness of divine favor in which is eternal life and peace.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus! (2 Corinthians 1:3) It is as easy to say, “Your sins are forgiven,” as to say, Rise up and walk, and vice versa; for both the authority and the power are committed unto Jehovah’s Anointed, in whom is all our hope and all our trust. It will be observed that all the healings performed by our Lord were both instantaneous and complete, showing the fullness of his authority and power, and they included the worst forms of disease — leprosy, paralysis, blindness from birth, and even awakenings from death. In all these respects they differed from the healings we hear of today, many of which are somewhat remarkable; and when the agents and agencies employed are not in opposition to Jehovah and his truth, we are justified in accepting them as slight intimations to men of the times of restoration, when all nations will be raised from the dead and healed, when no will say, I am sick, and there will be no more dying. — Isaiah 33:24; John 5:28,29; Revelation 21:1-4; 22:2.
Other manifestations of healing power through agencies in subtle opposition to Jehovah and his Word of truth, such, for instance, as Christian Science, so called, Scientology, and even many faith healers who perform miracles in Jesus’ name (Matthew 7:22), we can only regard as the efforts of Satan to offset the power of God, which is now occasionally and partially manifested as a mere intimation of coming blessings to lead men gradually to expect their fulness.
Some place scriptures such as Psalm 103:2,3 together with Luke 5:20, in an endeavor to prove that since Jesus forgives sins, then Jesus must be Yahweh.
Mark 2:7 shows that the Jewish leaders wanted to use Jesus’ statement to claim that he committed blasphemy, stating: “Why does this man speak blasphemies like that? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” However, what did Jesus say? Did he say, “Don’t you know that I am the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and thus I can forgive sins?” Did Jesus claim to be Jehovah (Yahweh)?
Here is what the scriptures say:
Mark 2:8 Immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they so reasoned within themselves, said to them, “Why do you reason these things in your hearts?
Mark 2:99 Which is easier, to tell the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven;’ or to say, ‘Arise, and take up your bed, and walk?’
Mark 2:10 But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins” — he said to the paralytic –Jesus claimed “authority” on earth to forgive sins. He did not claim that he was his God, Jehovah, who sent him.
The only place in this narrative where one might read into the text that Jesus was claiming to be his God is the expression that only God can forgive sins , as in Mark 2:7 and Luke 5:21. But whose claim was this? Was this Jesus’ claim? No, rather it was the claim of those who Jesus described as the offspring of vipers, lying, deceived and deceiving, hypocrites (Matthew 3:7; 6:2-8,16-18; 12:31; 15:1-9; 16:1-12; 21:33-46; 23:2-33; Luke 11:14-54; 12:1; 15:1-19; John 8:38,41,44), the Jewish religious leaders state. It was these proclaimed: “Why does this man speak blasphemies like that? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” (Mark 2:7) “Who is this that speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone?” (Luke 5:21) By raising the question concerning blasphemy, these religious leaders were falsely claiming Jesus was guilty of blasphemy. Likewise, by raising the question that leaves the thought only God can forgive sins, it falsely leaves the impression that God could not give authority to His son to forgive sins. Regardless, trying to read into these two questions that Jesus is his God is basing such an idea on a false authority, that is, the lying Jewish leaders. This is not a very good authority to base this idea on. Nevertheless, in a sense it is true,that only God can forgive sins, in that he forgive sins through any agency that he might desire to do so. But Matthew records:
Matthew 9:3 Behold, some of the scribes said to themselves, “This man blasphemes.”
Matthew 9:4 Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts?
Matthew 9:5 For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven;’ or to say, ‘Get up, and walk?’
Matthew 9:6 But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins…” (then he said to the paralytic), “Get up, and take up your mat, and go up to your house.”
Matthew 9:7 He arose and departed to his house.
Matthew 9:8 But when the multitudes saw it, they marveled and glorified God, who had given such authority to men. — italics added for emphasis.
Matthew tells us plainly that it is God who had given such authority to men. Nothing in any of this suggests that Jesus was/is his God, Jehovah (Yahweh), who sent him.
“Praise Yahweh! Give thanks to Yahweh, for he is good, For his lovingkindness endures forever.” (Psalm 107:15, World English Bible translation) “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort.” (2 Corinthians 1:3, World English Bible translation)
Much of the above has been adapted from R1921