Red Letter Year: 7/3
12 In one of the villages, Jesus met a man with an advanced case of leprosy. When the man saw Jesus, he bowed with his face to the ground, begging to be healed. “Lord,” he said, “if you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean.”
13 Jesus reached out and touched him. “I am willing,” he said. “Be healed!” And instantly the leprosy disappeared. 14 Then Jesus instructed him not to tell anyone what had happened. He said, “Go to the priest and let him examine you. Take along the offering required in the law of Moses for those who have been healed of leprosy. This will be a public testimony that you have been cleansed.”
15 But despite Jesus’ instructions, the report of his power spread even faster, and vast crowds came to hear him preach and to be healed of their diseases. 16 But Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer.
17 One day while Jesus was teaching, some Pharisees and teachers of religious law were sitting nearby. (It seemed that these men showed up from every village in all Galilee and Judea, as well as from Jerusalem.) And the Lord’s healing power was strongly with Jesus.
18 Some men came carrying a paralyzed man on a sleeping mat. They tried to take him inside to Jesus, 19 but they couldn’t reach him because of the crowd. So they went up to the roof and took off some tiles. Then they lowered the sick man on his mat down into the crowd, right in front of Jesus. 20 Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the man, “Young man, your sins are forgiven.”
21 But the Pharisees and teachers of religious law said to themselves, “Who does he think he is? That’s blasphemy! Only God can forgive sins!”
22 Jesus knew what they were thinking, so he asked them, “Why do you question this in your hearts? 23 Is it easier to say ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or ‘Stand up and walk’? 24 So I will prove to you that the Son of Man has the authority on earth to forgive sins.” Then Jesus turned to the paralyzed man and said, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and go home!”
25 And immediately, as everyone watched, the man jumped up, picked up his mat, and went home praising God. 26 Everyone was gripped with great wonder and awe, and they praised God, exclaiming, “We have seen amazing things today!”
Ever listen to great classical music and notice how the theme or motif repeats over and over, even as it develops, modulates, and builds? This is what Luke is doing here. Like the four notes in Beethoven’s Fifth (dah-dah-dah-dum), word-authority-power-proof resonate in both these vignettes. Is there any better word than hearing Jesus say, “I am willing?” If so, it has to be, “Your sins are forgiven.” Both are words we long to hear. And both are words Jesus has the authority to speak. Two important things get added to the theme here: the inclusion of “unclean” people – untouchables who are touched by Jesus, and the extension of Jesus’ authority over forgiveness of sins. Jesus exercises authority to touch those who must not be touched and Jesus exercises authority in forgiving sins. Both acts are supported by powerful healings which serve as proofs of Jesus’ authority in these areas.
Also notice the phrase in v.17, “And the Lord’s healing power was strongly with Jesus.” Luke again emphasizes that Jesus does the miraculous by the power of the Holy Spirit – the same power Peter and Paul will do miracles by in Acts – the same power you and I can still do miracles by. May the Lord’s healing power be strong with us as well.
We’ve read in Matthew and Mark about Jesus reading minds, so v.22 doesn’t strike us as new. But Luke hoped we would read it and remember the word Simeon spoke over the baby in the Temple: “the deepest thoughts of many hearts will be revealed.” (2.35) Simeon’s word carried authority and power too.
New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale HousePublishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.