Luke 5:12-26


“And it came to pass, when he was in a certain city, behold a man full of leprosy:  who seeing Jesus fell on his face, and besought him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.  And he put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will:  be thou clean.  And immediately the leprosy departed from him.  And he charged him to tell no man:  but go, and shew thyself to the priest, and offer for thy cleansing, according as Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them.  But so much the more went there a fame abroad of him:  and great multitudes came together to hear, and to be healed by him of their infirmities.  And he withdrew himself into the wilderness, and prayed.  And it came to pass on a certain day, as he was teaching, that there were Pharisees and doctors of the law sitting by, which were come out of every town of Galilee, and Judea, and Jerusalem:  and the power of the Lord was present to heal them.  And, behold, men brought in a bed a man which was taken with a palsy:  and they sought means to bring him in, and to lay him before him.  And when they could not find by what way they might bring him in because of the multitude, they went upon the housetop [of Simon Peter’s house!], and let him down through the tiling with his couch into the midst before Jesus.  And when he saw their faith, he said unto him, Man, thy sins are forgiven thee.  And the scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, Who is this which speaketh blasphemies?  Who can forgive sins, but God alone?  But when Jesus perceived their thoughts, he answering said unto them, What reason ye in your hearts?  Whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Rise up and walk?  But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power upon earth to forgive sins, (he said unto the sick of the palsy,) I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy couch, and go into thine house.  And immediately he rose up before them, and took up that whereupon he lay, and departed to his own house, glorifying God.  And they were all amazed, and they glorified God, and were filled with fear, saying, We have seen strange things to day.”


 “‘Lord we ask that in these days, Lord, as we sense the urgency of the hour that we live in, as we sense Father how the work of the enemy seems to be increasing all around us, in every front.  Father, as these things take place, our hearts are lifted to you.  Remember you said in your Word that when wickedness comes in like a flood, you would lift up a standard.  And Lord, we ask that you would enhance the work of your Holy Spirit in our lives, that his power and his presence and his leading and his teaching, his guiding would be a greater reality to us now than it’s ever been.  And we believe in our hearts, praying according to your will, Father we look to you, be with us this evening as we study your Word, we pray in Jesus name, amen.’


A Man Full of Leprosy Comes to Jesus


Chapter 5, we have come to verse 12, last week Jesus challenging some of his disciples, James and John, the sons of Zebedee to drop their nets to follow him, that he would make them fishers of men.  Verses 12-15, say “And it came to pass, when he was in a certain city, behold, a man full of leprosy:  who seeing Jesus fell on his face, and besought him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.  And he put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will:  be thou clean.  And immediately the leprosy departed from him.  And he charged him to tell no man:  but go, and shew thyself to the priest, and offer for thy cleansing, according as Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them.  But so much the more went there the fame abroad of him:  and great multitudes came together to hear, and to be healed by him of their infirmities.”  So, we have this record of this man, Dr. Luke tells us, and he would note these things, that he was full of leprosy.  He was in the later stages of leprosy.  Now, for you and I, it’s probably something that we only think about either when we’re reading some of the Gospels and we hear of leprosy, or when we watch Ben Hur and we see his mom and sisters with leprosy, there in the leper colony.  It isn’t something that normally comes close to our lives.  And yet they estimate worldwide there are ten to fifteen million people with leprosy today, and in the United States about five thousand people with leprosy.  Now we call it Hansen’s Disease today, because a man named Hansen came up with a treatment that arrests the progress of leprosy.  It doesn’t cure it, but it arrests its progress.  And that of course is a blessing.  In this day [Christ’s day], of course it was much different, long before Hansen.  Leprosy was a dread.  It would be considered, if you had leprosy, the finger of God.  You were considered dead while you were alive.  The Talmud said that there were 61 things that made someone unclean or contaminated, and of the 61 things leprosy was number 60 on the list, 61 was death.  The only thing that was more contaminating than leprosy was death itself.  So of all the things that could happen to a living human being, leprosy was considered the most unclean thing that could happen.  And the Jewish religious leaders considered leprosy the finger of God, in that they considered it judgment on secret sin.  [If God gave leprosy out for secret sin, we’d all have it J]  That when someone came down with leprosy, they said, theologically, ‘Ah, this person was involved in adultery, or this person was involved in stealing, this person was involved in idolatry, they were involved in some secret sin.  And because it was unknown to the religious leaders, so that we could deal with it, God then has put his finger on this person’s life and inflicted them with leprosy.’  So that was the stigma that also went along with it.  Now chapters 13 and 14 of Leviticus give to us, in chapter 13 the means of making a diagnosis of leprosy, and chapter 14 says “And this is the law of the leper in the day of his cleansing” that tells you what sacrifice was to be offered on the day that he was cleansed.  Chapters 13 and 14 of Leviticus are both very long chapters, they’re the only chapters in the Bible given in regards to a disease.  There are other things that happen to people, there was blindness, there was palsy, there are other diseases that might come into your life.  And yet the only disease in the Bible that is strictly outlined and given a lot of print is this disease of leprosy.  And that is because it is equated with sin by the religious leaders, and it’s a type of sin.  Leprosy was never healed.  Nowhere in the Old Testament or New Testament was leprosy spoken of as being healed.  Leprosy was cleansed, it needed a miracle to be removed.  And when you had leprosy you didn’t go to the doctor, you went to the priest, and the priest then would diagnose you.  And in chapter 13 of Leviticus there was a very long chapter with all of the different things to look for, because you had to be careful.  Because someone might have psoriasis, or echsyma, or ciboria’s, someone might have poison oak or poison sumac or poison ivy.  And you wouldn’t want to look at that person and say they had leprosy and then put them outside the camp and ruin their entire life.  So, there were all kinds of processes that had to be gone through.  And no doubt at some point in time, this man saw a spot, maybe on his hand, maybe on his leg, maybe on the side of his face by his ear.  Originally when he saw it he tried not to think anything of it.  I’m sure he’s the way we were.  You know, today if we get a pain, we think ‘Oh, that’s one of the seven signs of heart attack!’  Or we get a pain here, ‘Oh no, I hope it’s not the Big C,’ you know.  I mean, we do the same thing, we have our paranoia about illness and disease, and I’m sure when he first saw it he tried to brush it off his mind, ‘Nah, this is nothing’ and put it away.  But of course as the weeks went by maybe he even then tried to cover it with part of his robes so it wouldn’t be seen.  But sooner or later he had to go see the priest, and no doubt it was Caiaphas or Annas, the two priests that were functioning at that time in Jerusalem at the Temple.  He didn’t see anybody local.  And he was examined, he was washed, he was shaved.  They shaved the hair off your head, they shaved all the hair off your body.  They put you away then for seven days, and on the eighth day they bring you out and re-examine you.  And then it tells if it got brighter or got darker or it started to indent more, all of these things.  But at some point, in the middle of all of that process, the priest pronounced him “unclean” and said “You’re unclean.”  And his life changed once and forever on that day.  His entire life fell apart in shambles by one pronouncement of that priest, because he could not go home from there.  He couldn’t see his kids if he had kids, he couldn’t see his wife if he had a wife, except from a distance.  He couldn’t hug his mother or his father, if they died he couldn’t go to their funeral.  He was separated.  He had to walk at least 100 paces [from anybody], and he had to yell “unclean”, and he had to wear those rags that lepers wore, because they were considered clothes of mourning, because they were considered dead [the walking dead, the real-life zombies of the Bible, except they had feelings, emotions, they were still alive].  It said that in the middle stages of leprosy you could smell a person from a hundred feet away.  This man is in the latter stages, he is full of leprosy.  What that tells us is, his nose was gone, his lips were probably gone, his ears were gone, probably his fingers, his toes, maybe his feet.  Because the way the disease progressed was first at your appendages.  We’re discovering some interesting things about leprosy, it likes your appendages because they’re just a little bit cooler.  One of the researches that is taking place presently is armadillos, trying to find a cure for leprosy, because armadillos, though they’re mammals, instead of being at 96.8 degrees, their body temperature hovers between 94 and 95, just a little bit cooler.  And they know that leprosy tends to hit the end of your fingers, the ends of your ears, your nose, because your body temperature is just a little bit cooler there, and for some reason it spreads into the nerve endings and the flesh there faster.  So this man was full of leprosy. 


Leprosy A Picture Of What Sin Does Within Us


And leprosy is a type of sin, in that sin can take years to come to the surface.  Sometimes in our lives, it starts as a little spot, it doesn’t seem like anything, it seems harmless.  And yet it’s important to diagnose it correctly, and understand what it is.  Because it [sin] will do the same thing.  It starts to desensitize, it eats away at our sensitivities.  Sin will do that.  It says that we should look out that our heart is not deceived through the subtlety of sin, the deceptiveness of it.  Because we do that.  The Holy Spirit will say to us, ‘You shouldn’t be flirting with the secretary, You shouldn’t be flirting with this guy, or You shouldn’t be messing with your money that way, or You shouldn’t be…’ and we say to the Holy Spirit, ‘Hey, don’t worry about it, man, I go to Calvary Chapel, I study the Bible’, the Holy Spirit says ‘I’m relieved to hear about that, now I don’t have to worry about you’ [Pastor Joe is saying that sarcastically], and whatever goes on, we play with it, and every day we grieve the Holy Spirit a little more, and what happens is we become desensitized.  And then I’ll have somebody sitting in my office telling me they fell into adultery, they’re in sin, and they’ll say “I don’t know how it happened.”  It’s because it happens an inch at a time, it happens little by little by little, you become desensitized until all of a sudden we find out we’ve lost something.  The lepers would wrap their hands and their feet because the rats would come at night and be able to eat their finger, and they wouldn’t even know that it was gone, because the nerves would die, they’d become desensitized.  And you see that in your life with people, they get into this sin, and their life becomes desensitized, they don’t even realize it anymore, what they’re doing to their family, what they’re doing to their friends, what they’re doing to their own lives, their own hearts.  And they end up being separated then, just like a leper.  And you’ve seen it.  And it’s important to make a diagnosis.  Now the advantage that a leper had, was that it was written out clearly, and we could look, and we could see, even with a small spot we could see the beginnings, according to Leviticus 13.  Our problem today is we live in a society where we are no longer able to measure the beginnings of sin in our lives.  Things that were sin 40 years ago are no longer wrong [in society], we live in a nation where what is politically correct today, though the Bible says it’s wrong, society is saying that it’s right.  [Our President yesterday, as I am typing this, just endorsed gay marriage].  And you and I, for standing up for morality and Biblical values, society is saying we are wrong.  And it’s hard to make a diagnosis.  And it becomes fatal.  And people who die without being touched by Jesus will spend eternity in hell.  [Comment:  The Body of Christ has various beliefs about heaven and hell.  To view some of these, log onto:]  A little clipping I have from a magazine says, it’s called “How Times Have Changed, Public school teachers rate the top disciplinary problems” it’s from U.S. News & World Report.  In the 1940s, between 1940 and 1950, these were the major problems in a public school.  I’ll read them to you, “Talking out of turn.”  Now, you can laugh, but think what we’re saying.  “Chewing gum”, major disciplinary problem.  “Making noise”, “Running in the halls”, “cutting in line”, major disciplinary problem.  “Dress code violation”, I’m guilty of that [laughter].  “Littering”, major disciplinary problems, talking out of turn, chewing gum, making noise, running in the halls, cutting in line, dress code violations and littering.  1990, teachers interviewed:  Major disciplinary problems “Drug abuse”, “alcohol abuse”, “pregnancy”, “suicide”, “rape”, “robbery”, and “assault”, in 40 years.  And what that tells us is, the barometer that we used to measure problems, half a century ago, what was impolite and rude and wrong, those increments on the scale, they don’t even exist on the scales that we have to use today to measure a problem.  Talking out of turn, that used to be an increment on the scale of what was wrong, on a problem from 1 to 10.  Today, it starts with assault and rape.  And the increment of talking out of turn, being disrespectful or rude is no longer even on the barometer that we measure problems with.  So there isn’t even an accurate way today to measure the beginning of sin.  It’s been removed, except for the Word of God, except for the Holy Spirit, and except that every individual somewhere inside, no matter what kind of a façade they put on outwardly, every human being inside knows when they’re empty, they know when they’re fooling everybody else but themselves, they know when they’re tired of trying to do it on their own, they know when their life is falling apart, because Jesus said “the Holy Ghost, when he comes into the world will convict the world of sin and of righteousness and of judgment.”  But society no longer gives us that accurate means of measuring the problem. 


Jesus Shows Extreme Compassion On This Leper---The Incredible Healing That Occurs!


This leper understood his problem.  His flesh was rotted away, he was separated.  He was hopeless, maybe you’re hopeless here this evening.  He comes to Jesus, had heard of Jesus, no doubt.  And it says he falls down in front of Jesus, begging him, he falls on his face, he had pushed his way through the crowd [and the crowd probably separated like the Red Sea before Moses when they saw him coming], saying ‘Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.’  Not heal me, ‘you can make me clean.’  ‘If you will,’ we’re not sure exactly what he’s saying.  Is he saying ‘I believe you’re powerful enough, but I don’t know what your heart is.’  ‘If you will.’  ‘I know you can do it.’  Or is he saying, and it seems that way in the grammar, ‘Lord, you have but to will it, and it will happen.’  ‘All you have to do, Lord, is exercise your will.’  It seems like an affirmation of the power of Christ, rather than a question, in the grammar.  ‘Lord I know you can do this, if you want to.  You can make me clean.’  Isn’t it interesting, “And the Lord said” now, but it doesn’t say he just said, verse 13, “And he put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will:  be thou clean.”  Jesus could have just spoken the word.  He does that in other circumstances, he just speaks the word and the person is healed or the person is delivered.  But with this man, it says, “he put forth his hand, and touched him.”  How long had it been, here’s a guy who watched fathers playing with their children, who saw husbands kiss their wives good-bye as they went to work, saw adults caring for their elderly parents, saw mothers cradling their babies.  Here’s a guy who had been removed from life, and Jesus instead of just speaking, he says, ‘If you will, if it’s in your heart, you can do this.’  And it says that Jesus before he says anything, puts his hand on him.  The first human touch he had felt in how long, ten years?  And see the remarkable thing was it really wasn’t even a human touch, it was, but it wasn’t, it was the finger of God.  The religious leaders had said ‘Your disease is because of the finger of God.’  And no doubt for many years he thought ‘God hates me.  Why’s he doing this to me?  This is unfair.  If this is the way God is, I don’t want to worship him.  If this is the way God is, who cares what he thinks.  If this is a God of love, who cares, I don’t want to know anything about him.’  And you know lots of people do [say] the same thing, because they’re told about God by Christians, or their impression from the Church, or one thing or another, and they say the same thing, ‘Well if that’s God, if God’s a God of love and he lets children starve and people be sick and he does all this, if that’s your God, no thanks, I don’t want to have anything to do with him!’  [Comment:  And a lot of the world reasons this way, seeing that God has allowed Satan to be ruler of this world, making it as evil as it is.  They cannot see the entirety of God’s plan, which does involve suffering, which is solely to teach mankind in the end, not to choose Satan’s way, but to choose God’s way over Satan’s way.  Glimmers of this entire plan can be found amongst some of the various beliefs about heaven and hell differing parts of the Body of Christ have on the subject.  See]  And I’m sure this leper had gone through all of those wrestling’s. ‘Is it a sin, is it something I need to confess?  The religious leaders say I’ve done something wrong, and I can’t think of anything I’ve done wrong.’  Then he must have gone to self-pity, and then he must have gone to anger, he must have gone through all of those emotions.  But yet, when he looks into the face of Jesus, and he hears about this Jesus, he’s not hesitant to run and throw himself on the ground in front of Jesus.  And whatever the religious leaders told him was the finger of God, here the remarkable thing is, here is the finger of God as Jesus reaches out and touches him, and says, “I will, be thou clean.”  One of the other Gospels tell us “immediately he was made whole.”  Now you have to understand what that’s saying.  “Immediately he was made whole”, that means his fingers went “pop, pop, pop, pop, pop!!!” back on, they had rotted away.  It means his toes went “pop, pop, pop, pop, pop!!!”, it means his lips came back!---it means his nose came back on his face!  It means ears appeared back on his head again!  You have to understand what it’s saying.  “Immediately he was made whole.”  How many of us here, my life, dead in sin, desensitized, empty, and Jesus touched us, and immediately we were made whole, life comes again [and that includes walking away from drug and alcohol additions without following any programs of the world, just immediate healing, I’ve experienced that, so I know it’s real].  Immediately, it says, this man is made whole. 


Why Jesus Tells Him To Go See The Priest---Cleansing of the Leper Pictures Salvation in Christ


Now Jesus says to him, ‘Don’t tell anybody’ [yeah right, chuckles].  ‘Ok, Lord, I’ll keep it a secret.’  [laughter]  Imagine that, ‘Don’t tell anybody’  ‘Ok, I’ll just act like a leper.  I won’t go around my wife or kids, I’ll just keep it a secret, between me and you.’  Jesus says to him, “I will:  be thou clean.  And immediately the leprosy departed from him.  And he charged him to tell no man:  but go, and shew thyself to the priest, and offer for thy cleansing, according as Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them” (verses 14b-15).  You have to understand what’s happening here, it’s beautiful.  Many a priest in the history of Israel had looked into chapter 13 of Leviticus, because that is the way you diagnosed the leper.  But we have no single record that there was ever a leper cleansed in Israel.  Miriam was cleansed before the Law was given [on Mount Sinai.  The Law existed before, but not codified as it was on Mount Sinai].  And Moses prayed for her.  Naaman the Syrian was cleansed of leprosy in the days of Elisha, and Jesus said that in the synagogue.  There is not a single record that a leper was ever cleansed in Israel.  In fact, there is no evidence that the priests ever looked into chapter 14 of Leviticus, they never had to offer that sacrifice.  In fact is says ‘this is the sacrifice, this is the law of the leper in the day that he’s cleansed.’  Why is that there, is that some kind of a leper joke?  Is it some kind of a cruel chapter?  No.  It seems that Leviticus chapter 14 was written for Caiaphas and Annas.  Because Jesus says, ‘Go, don’t tell any man, show yourself to the priest, and offer for a testimony unto them what Moses commanded in the Law.  That was the testimony.  They had to say, ‘Is this the guy?’  Imagine Caiaphas and Annas, ‘Is this Jimmy Schwartz?  You said that he had leprosy, doesn’t look like he has leprosy.’  ‘I saw it, it was all over him, we heard somebody say, we thought he was about to die, we heard he was full of leprosy!  Maybe it’s his twin brother, you know, maybe he’s trying to get an angle so we pronounce him clean, when he’s really not clean.  Imagine the wrestling they went through.  ‘Well, what do we need to do?  It’s in Leviticus 14, you ever done this before?  No, I never did this before.’  This is what they had to do.  They had to take this man, and it says they had to take two doves, two turtledoves, had to take an earthen vessel, they had to fill that earthen vessel with living water, a type of Jesus.  Then they had to take the two turtledoves, they ripped the head off of the one, and they let the blood drain out into the water, so the water in that bowl turned pure red.  Then they had to take hyssop and scarlet and cedar, and dip it in that blood, and sprinkle the man seven times.  And then they took the other dove, and they dipped him into the blood, and released him.  And the beautiful picture of the one dying so that the other would be washed and cleansed and set free.  And then they took that man, and they shaved him, shaved his head, shaved everything.  Eight days he was set aside, for eight days Caiaphas and Annas and the Sanhedrin and the religious leaders of Israel thought ‘What in the world is going on?’   For eight days, for the first time in their lives, they read chapter 14.  After eight days they brought him out, he was clean.  And it says ‘then they would sacrifice a lamb.’  And they would take the blood of that lamb, and they would put it on his right ear.  What a beautiful picture of redemption.  Isn’t that the first thing that’s effected by the blood of the Lamb, we begin to hear God, we begin hear for the first time in our lives.  Then they put the blood on his right thumb, how the blood of Christ cleanses what we have done.  They put the blood on the great toe of his right foot.  Then they take a hin of oil, we’re not just saved and cleansed, but then we’re empowered, and there’s the oil, the Holy Spirit applied to his right ear, applied to his right hand, and applied to his right foot---what we do, where we go, cleansed in the blood, anointed by God.  Then they took that man and presented him publicly back to the nation.  No wonder Jesus said ‘Don’t tell anybody.’  Do it this way, we’ve been planning this since Moses wrote Leviticus.  [chuckles]  And they took this guy and presented him publicly, you know everybody in Jerusalem said, ‘Well we have never been to one of these ceremonies before! We’ve never seen this before, how’d this happen?  How did you get cleansed of leprosy???  A carpenter from Nazareth.  See?’  The testimony was Jesus is loving the religious leaders of Israel.  There will come a time, finally, when he rebukes them and turns.  And his denunciation is scathing, in Matthew 23.  But initially there was testimony, there was love, and the religious leaders in Israel were hearing ‘Lepers were being cleansed in Israel.’  What an incredible testimony it was.  By the way, I think our friends and relatives see the same testimony in us, they see what we listen to, what we look at, that changes, they see what we do, it changes, where we go, it changes.  There should be a testimony in our lives of the cleansing of sin that’s taken place.  But be careful.  Because it [sin, spiritual leprosy] starts very small, it effects your nerves.  And like the work with the armadillo, it begins where you’re a little bit cooler.  Where in your life are you a little bit cool about the things of God, a little bit colder, not so on-fire?  It’s easy for those areas to get infected.  But the remarkable thing is that Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever.  And whatever has effected your life, whatever sin you feel has separated you, whatever has brought death and heaviness to your heart and to your life, you may feel the same way this leper does.  ‘I know that he can do it, but will he do it for me?  I know that Jesus can do it, but he probably is just going to turn his back on me.’  Maybe you’re saying to him tonight, ‘Lord, if you want to, if you will,’ and we hope before the night’s over you’ll say this, ‘you can make me clean.’  And the response is the same, he’ll touch you, change your life forever.  Now he wasn’t supposed to tell anybody, “But so much more went there a fame abroad of him:  and great multitudes came together to hear, and to be healed by him of their infirmities” (verse 15). Now, some estimate 20,000 to 50,000 people following him.  Luke does an interesting thing, in chapter 4, verse 14, he said “the fame of him spread abroad”, he uses a word there that means “a rumour”, in chapter 4, verse 37 again he says “the fame went abroad”, he uses a different word for “fame” that means “the roar” or “the reverberation.”  Now for the third time Luke says here in verse 15, “the fame of him went abroad”, and he uses the word Logos, “now the Word about Jesus went abroad”, what we have this evening, all the more may it spread across the entire region.


The Paralytic Lowered Through Peter’s Roof


“And he withdrew himself into the wilderness, and prayed” (verse 16).  You know I look at that and think, you know he’s so different than me, because if Satan had appeared to me when I was in the wilderness, I wouldn’t go pray there anymore.  I’d go pray somewhere near a candle or a lightbulb or something.  Jesus “withdrew into the wilderness, and prayed” he’s not afraid. “And it came to pass on a certain day, as he was teaching, that there were Pharisees and doctors of the law sitting by, which were come out of every town of Galilee, and Judea, and Jerusalem:  and the power of the Lord was present to heal them” (verse 17).  Now Josephus tells us there were over 210 towns in the area of Galilee with a population [in each] of over 10,000.  That’s hard to believe, but you have to understand the crowd that’s here, because, as it tells us before this, the Logos, the Word about him now is spreading through the entire region.  Because of that, it says now Pharisees, doctors of the law, scribes, were coming out of every town in Galilee and Judea and even from Jerusalem, and they’re sitting there.  And it’s interesting, the King James says “the power of the Lord was present to heal them.”  The word “present” is in italics, it’s not in the text, so it reads, “the power of the Lord was to heal them.”  To heal who?  The Pharisees?  The scribes?  The doctors of the law that had come to sit in his presence?  That’s what I think, because of the remarkable sequence that takes place immediately after this.  You know this man.  “And, behold, men brought in a bed a man which was taken with a palsy:  and they sought means to bring him in, and to lay him before him.  And when they could not find by what way they might bring him in because of the multitude, they went upon the housetop, and let him down through the tiling with his couch into the midst before Jesus.”  Now you’ve got to get the picture.  Doctors of the law, scribes, Pharisees, religious leaders, from every synagogue and from Jerusalem itself gathered there.  So large is the crowd that Mark tells us, and Mark hears from Peter who was an eye-witness [it was Peter’s house!], that they couldn’t even get near the windows to look in. The crowds were outside the house, Jesus is sitting in the house.  And you could imagine the theological professors were surrounding him, looking at him, men that had searched the Word to find life, but Jesus said ‘They are they that testify of me.’  And they’re drawn.  And Jesus loves them.  And they’re seated around him.  Well meantime, word gets to these guys.  These guys love their friend so much that they determine that they’re going to get him to Jesus.  Now I hope there’s people in your life that you love so much that you’re going get them to Jesus, that you’re just going to do your best.  We’ll see how determined you are when we look at these guys.  So they grab their friend.  Imagine him, we see Christopher Reeves today, people that are paralyzed in a wheelchair.  In those days there were no wheelchairs, you’re laying on a bed, you’re laying on a litter.  If you’re a paralytic, all that’s left maybe that you can move is your head.  Is he paralyze from the chest down, is he paralyzed from the neck down.  Some people are paralyzed from the neck up.  [laughter]  Where’s your paralysis?  Oh I mean that.  I mean that, some people are so analytical, it’s called the paralysis of analysis, that they can never grow in Christ, they can never move onward.  Some people are paralyzed in their hearts and emotions, they have been so battered by life, that when they hear Jesus loves them, the first thing they say within themselves is “Oh don’t tell me that.  Don’t tell me that one more person on this planet cares about me, because every person whose ever told me they care, my mom, my dad, my grandmother has stabbed me in the back or abused me, my family, my spouse and divorce.  Don’t tell me, I can’t bear to hear again in my life that someone loves me, because if this turns out not to be true, it will kill me.”  Some people, their hearts are paralyzed.  This man is paralyzed, physically.  Imagine, no hospitals, no care, laying on a bed for years.  But his friends must have been watching the ministry of Jesus.  It says they’re bringing him all kinds of people, he’s healing all kinds of people.  They say ‘Let’s go get Charlie, let’s go get him.’  And they throw him on this thing or he’s laying on it, they pick it up and they’re running.  ‘He guys, where we going?  What’s going on?’  He can’t steer, he can’t see, and they’re saying ‘We’ve gotta get you to this guy.’  And he’s probably saying ‘Well I’ve heard of him, this is the Teacher, this is the guy where everybody wonders if he’s a prophet.’  And they’re saying, “Yeah, yeah, that’s the guy!’  And you can imagine, they come running up to the house, and you can imagine the four guys, they’re kind of brainstorming, ‘Oh man, what are we going to do, we can’t get near the house.’  And the poor guy’s laying on a litter.  And they’re saying ‘Well I don’t know, what are we gonna do, we can’t even get near the window, maybe we can start screaming at people.’  And he’s saying, ‘No, no, don’t start screaming at people.’  And then they say, ‘I know…’ and you can see them tiptoeing around, going up the steps onto the roof.  And then they’re saying ‘OK, let’s dig here, we’ll just dig through the guy’s roof!’  How bad do you want to get your friends to Jesus?  And the guy on the litter can’t run away.  He’s probably laying there saying ‘Oh no, let’s come back tomorrow, please don’t tear this guy’s roof up, on top of everything else the guy will shoot me.  What are you doing?’  [This was Peter’s roof, too, his house.] And imagine how this disrupts a Bible study.  Jesus is sitting in the middle of these doctors and scribes and people that represent the religious convictions of the nation, and all of a sudden dust is falling, and here comes this guy, they’re lowering him down with a rope, right into the middle of the Bible study, the guy’s going  ‘No, no, it’s not my idea, it’s their idea,’ and there’s dust swirling, you can see the light through the dust, and they lower this guy.  Here is an illustration right in the middle of Jesus’ study, being lowered down in front of him.  But how many times has our paralysis been, the thing that we say ‘If he loves me, or If he’s really there, why is this happening to me?’ 


Our Paralysis Should Bring Us To Jesus


How many times has our paralysis been the very thing that has lowered us down in front of Jesus right in his presence?  How many times even as a believer, has some broken-heartedness or some difficulty, we start out with our anger, ‘Why are you letting this happen to me?  you know, I’ve sinned, there’s sin I need to confess,’ and we confess everything we can think of, you know, for the last 97 years, and that doesn’t take it away, and we think, ‘I need to believe more, I need to give more money…’ and we try everything, and nothing works, and it’s still happening to us.  And then the anger comes, ‘You’ve gotta love him, I’ve gotta worship you, I’m gonna worship somebody else, I’m not gonna pray.  Why should I pray if you’re gonna let this happen?’  But some day, finally, we say “Uncle”, the brokenness comes, we resolve ourselves, we begin to beg him, ‘Lord, Lord I need your strength, I need your encouragement.’  We find ourselves lowered right into his presence. 


The People See A Torn-up Roof---Jesus Sees Their Faith


These guys start tearing up the roof, lowering their buddy down into the middle of the Bible study, remarkable scene, without a doubt, tearing up the tiling, letting him down on his litter.  Poor guy, here he comes, imagine him as they let him down, everybody’s looking at him, and he can’t move, he’s just laying there, ‘Hey, how you doing?  Look at verse 20, “And when he saw their faith, he said unto him, Man, thy sins are forgiven thee.”  When Jesus saw their faith, now Jesus sees something much different from what everybody else sees.  Everybody else sees, ‘Oh man, what do they think they’re doing?  Look at this guy’s house, I can’t believe it, Jesus, I hope he’s going to say something, he’s doing his Bible study here and they’re tearing the house up.’  Everybody else is seeing the ceiling getting torn up, Jesus is seeing something completely different.  Can you imagine these four guys, when they let their buddy down, they must have looked down the hole, and they must have seen the face of God looking up at them with a smile.  Because he saw their faith.  He must have said, ‘You guys are a killer, I wish all evangelists were like you guys.’  He looks down at the man on the litter.  “And when he saw their faith, he said unto him, Man, thy sins are forgiven thee” (verse 20).  Now, the friends are probably going ‘No, the legs, not the sins, the legs, the legs!  No not the sins!’  And Matthew says, and we get a better idea as we read the other Gospels, he says, “Son, be of good cheer, thy sins be forgiven thee.”  Mark, who heard from Peter, who was there watching, may have been his roof that was torn up, said, “Son, thy sins are forgiven thee.”  Each place it’s technon, child, “be of good cheer”, you know is that something cruel to say to a guy whose paralyzed on his own litter.  ‘Hey buddy, cheer up!’  Your sins are forgiven.  You can’t walk, but your sins are forgiven.  Cheer up!’  Would seem cruel, wasn’t it?  The phrase actually means this, it’s not just “don’t fear” or “don’t be afraid”, it is “there is no reason to fear.”  Jesus looks at this guy’s face, and he knows his thoughts, because he’s going to say to the Pharisees “What reason ye in your hearts?  Which is easier to say, thy sins be forgiven, or Arise, take up thy bed and walk.”  Jesus looks down into the face of this man and says ‘Child, there’s no reason to be afraid, your sins are forgiven.’  Because the man, as he was lowered down into the presence of Jesus, was very conscious of his sin.  He had forgotten about his legs.  Jesus was hearing that heart.  You know, sometimes we feel like, and I remember thinking this, ‘I can’t come to God, you know, I need to get it together.  He’d be ashamed of me, how can I come to him?  I never knew a Jesus from the religious community that would say to me ‘Child, there’s no reason to be afraid, your sins are forgiven.’  I never knew that, until I heard it from him, and I pray you hear it from him this evening. 


‘If Only God Can Forgive Sins---So Who Is This?’


“Your sins are forgiven thee.  The scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, Who is this which speaketh blasphemies?  Who can forgive sins, but God alone?” (verse 21).  And the other Gospels tell us “within themselves”, not out loud, “Who is this which speaketh blasphemies?”  Now that is a correct interpretation.  Nobody but God can forgive sin.  They just didn’t know that it was God sitting in front of them, saying, ‘Child, no reason to fear…’  They didn’t know who he was.  “But when Jesus perceived their thoughts, he answering said unto them, What reason ye in your hearts?”  They probably said ‘Nothing, nothing, nothing.’ He let’s them know that he knows what they’re thinking in their hearts. “Whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Rise up and walk?”  Now which is easier to say.  See I can, you could bring somebody up here in a wheelchair and I could say to them, “Hey, your sins are forgiven.’  And nobody would know whether it happened or not.  That’s easy to say.  But to say, ‘Get up and walk’ is a little bit more of a demonstration of the greater authority that does forgive sins.  It makes a visible demonstration of the authority that’s present.  Jesus says to these guys, ‘Which is easier to say, just ask Dr. Luke, he’s amazed at this story, because he knows how hard it is to say to somebody ‘Get up and walk’ that’s been crippled for years.  “Which is easier to say, thy sins be forgiven thee, or to say, Rise up and walk” notice, here’s the reason that Jesus does what he does, “But that ye might know that the Son of man hath power upon earth to forgive sins, (he said unto the sick of the palsy,) I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy couch, and go into thine house” (verse 24).  “That you may know”, it means to know completely.  “And immediately he rose up before them, and took up that whereon he lay, and departed to his own house, glorifying God” (verse 25).  And I bet it was easier to get out than it was to get in.  When he left he didn’t have to go through that hole in the ceiling.  He took that bed up, and started to walk out, and everybody just parted with their mouths hanging open.  He didn’t have to go through therapy, he didn’t have to build up muscle tone, he didn’t have to do any of that.  When Jesus said to this guy ‘Get up, take up your bed’ you just heard this snap, crackle and pop!  Like Rice Crispies, you heard his joints and his muscles and his ligaments, pop, pop, pop, pop! he got up, he was back together.  Because it was the Creator of the universe that told him to get up and walk.  He had no problem at all replacing muscle tissue and sinew and joint strength.  “And Immediately he rose before them, and took up that whereon he lay, and departed to his own house, glorifying God” you could see him going out Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, he’s going out in the middle singing, praising God, I guess he was.  “And they were all amazed, and they glorified God, and were filled with fear, saying, We have seen strange things to day”  (verse 26). 


What Jesus Came To Leave Us


Now, note the reason that Jesus says what he does.  ‘Which is easier to say, Your sins are forgiven, or to say, Take up your bed and walk?  But that you might know that the Son of man,’ first of 23 times in Luke he calls himself ‘the Son of man’, that you might know that the Son of man has power to forgive sins.’  That’s what he wants them to know.  That’s what Jesus is all about, the forgiveness of your sins.  That’s what his life was all about, redeeming, taking defiled lepers, broken people that are paralyzed by a thousand different things, and redeeming their lives, and touching them, and forgiving their sins, and making them whole again.  It wasn’t about candles, it wasn’t about incense, it wasn’t about liturgy, and there’s nothing wrong with that, it wasn’t about tradition, and it wasn’t about ceremony.  Jesus did not come to leave a religious system, he came to leave us life.  He didn’t come to leave us a set of rules and regulations that would strangle once again the incredible thing that he was doing.  He came to give us life, and give us forgiveness.  And he says, ‘I’m going to do this so that you will know that I have power to forgive sin.’  You mean, he wants it to be that easy?  Don’t I have to work a little bit for it?  Don’t I have to ride an English Racer from house to house with a suit on, and kind of work off a little bit of this sin stuff?  Don’t I have to crawl on my knees to a statue until my knees and toes are bleeding?  Don’t I have to light candles and incense?  You mean it’s just this easy?  You mean there’s nothing we can do, to add to what he needs to do, so that we can be forgiven?  You mean our relationship with a holy God is based on what he has done and not on what we can do?  Yeah, that’s what I mean. And it says in the Bible that he’s the one who sends our sin away, and that’s what he says here, ‘Your sins will be forgiven, they will be sent away.’  And the Bible says that he separates our sins from us, as far as the east is from the west.  Isn’t that amazing?  He doesn’t say as far as the north is from the south, because that’s only 8,000 miles away.  And I want my sins further than 8,000 miles.  If he separated your sins as far as the north is from the south, you head north until you hit the north pole and then you start going south again.  And then when you hit the south pole you start going north again.  But he said ‘I’m going to separate your sins as far as the east is from the west.  How long do you go west before you start going east?  Never.  How long do you go east before you start going west?  Never.  He’s separating our sins from us, as far as the east is from the west.  That is, an unending measurement.  Corey ten Boom said “He casts our sin in the deepest part of the sea and then puts a no-fishing sign up.” [Comment: Now people are going to misinterpret this all over the place, from those folks who tend to be super-grace oriented saying, Yeah, give it to them, Pastor Joe, to those on the legalist side of the fence shaking their heads in disagreement.  This has to be taken in context with what Jesus said to the woman caught in adultery, whom he freely forgave, but then said to her “Go and sin no more.”  This gets us into the subject of Law & Grace.  For more on this subject, log onto:  The quote at the very bottom of the first page on that link is from Pastor Chuck Smith, the Senior Pastor of all the Calvary Chapels.  Pastor Joe is not saying, ‘I can go out and do whatever I want, and Jesus will just forgive me.’  Forgiveness brings responsibility as well, responsibility to follow in Jesus’ steps.] 


What’s Paralyzing You?


What are you paralyzed by?  That’s the question.  And if you are paralyzed, you know that religion is not enough.  Religion is from the Latin word relingari, it means to re-link.  Religion is man’s attempt to re-link with a holy God, whether it is by offering prayers, or whether it is by offering animals, or whether it is by crawling on his knees to a statue, or whether it is by fasting, or whether it is by afflicting himself, by studying yoga for a year or whatever, religion is man’s attempt, through whatever system he invents, relingari, to re-link.  But how can man re-link with a holy God?  You know, it’s like jumping across the Atlantic Ocean, jumping off the steel pier.  You send the first guy off on a skateboard, he’s gonna get about 10 foot towards Europe.  And you’re going to laugh at him, because you have a motorcycle with a jet engine on it, and you build a big ramp.  And you’re going to get a lot closer to Europe than he does.  But you’d better bring a life-preserver too.  You understand?  In the measurement of our sin, whether great or small, the Bible says “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”  We have no means of re-linking, religion cannot reconnect us with a holy God, because all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.  That’s the standard.  We would have to have in ourselves the glory of God in regards to holiness for us to re-link, and it’s an impossibility, it’s an impossibility.  So the Bible says that “he” re-linked, he took on flesh, came into our world, and walked amongst us, he’s the one who re-linked so that we could be saved, and cleansed, and forgiven through him.  The Bible says that we see God in Christ, on the cross, reconciling the world to himself, that it was God Almighty in Jesus.  God is not up in heaven somewhere unconcerned about your life, untouchable, uninformed about you, uncaring, and he’s just letting your life roll out the way it is, and he’s not involved.  No, that’s not who he is at all.  He is the one who came to walk among us, to show us who he was, and then himself to go to the cross and take your sin and my sin.  And remarkably the Bible tells us in Colossians that it’s through him that all things consist, cohere, that he holds the very universe together.  So he was there, held together the knuckles of the Roman soldiers as they beat his face, it’s some mystery.  He held together the thorns as they were jammed on his brow, and they went through his skin to his nerves.  He held together the nails as they went through his hands, to bear the pain, to pay the price for you and I.  Now, the question is, if you’re here this evening, and you don’t know who Jesus is, you know what church is, I’m sure.  You know what Christianity is, at least by what people tell you or how people demonstrate it, or what Time Magazine says about it.  But I’m going to tell you something, so what.  You need Jesus, not Christianity.  And if he is risen from the dead, and he is, and if he’s the same as he was then, and he is, he will touch your life just like he did with this man.  The question is, what is your paralysis?  Is it broken-heartedness?  Is it sin?  Are you saying, ‘I believe, but there’s no way I can get up off this palate, there’s no way I can get up off this litter, I’ve been laying here for years.  There’s no way I can get up out of this alcoholism.  There’s no way I can let go of drugs.  There’s no way I can let go of pornography.  There’s no way I can let go of money.  There’s no way I can love my wife again, or my husband.  There’s no way I can get up off this bitterness I lay on and I wallow in.  It’s a cruel thing for him to say, “Get up, take up your bed.”’  Now is it?  He said to the man with the withered hand, “Stretch forth your hand.”  Was that a cruel request?  Or when he said to the leper “Be clean”, was that cruel?  No, the leper was cleansed, and the man with the withered hand, his hand was straightened out, and the man on the litter got up.  And Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever.  The question is, what are you going to do about it?  Are you paralyzed?...[transcript of a connective expository sermon given on Luke 5:12-26 by Pastor Joe Focht, Calvary Chapel of Philadelphia, 13500 Philmont Avenue, Philadelphia, PA  19116]      


Related links:


How to Become a Christian: and scroll to the bolded paragraph title “How to Become a Christian” and read down from there.  Also log onto: