Getting healed seems to be so difficult! And so expensive! Many promise healing but obviously fail to deliver. How refreshing then to read of a real healing.
The house was packed. With people who believed they should protect others from charlatans and false teachers. Pharisees and Scribes they were called. Religious but often too strict for their own good. Or the good of the people they felt they should protect!
Then there was the crowd gathered in the home and around the door. It was completed packed out with standing room only. Outside!
Jesus was there too. The crowds had come to hear Him and, hopefully, to be healed by Him. Luke adds, “And the power of the Lord was with Jesus to heal the sick.” But wasn’t the power of the Lord always present to heal the sick wherever Jesus was present? Normally, Yes. But where people weren’t open to receive healing from Him, healing didn’t flow. Jesus didn’t force anything on people who were not willing to receive it. Some time later Mark records that Jesus returned to his hometown, and taught in the synagogue. We read what happened, “He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. 6 He was amazed at their lack of faith. …”. Mark 6:5-6. Unbelief on the part of humans hindered the reception of healing not because Jesus couldn’t work in unbelieving situations [He did heal a few] but because He wouldn’t impose His blessing on those who were not open to receive it.
On this occasion in Luke 5 it was different. Expectancy filled the air. The story ends with a wonderful healing. A lame man was healed so as to be able to walk. Immediately! He was also able to bend down to pick up his bed and to carry it home!
We might ask what were the steps of faith the lame man used to enable him to walk? What might we learn from the story?
THE STEPS OF FAITH THAT ENABLE HEALING TO HAPPEN! Luke 5:17-26
[Seen in the paralysed man and in others in the story.]
- A Willingness To Receive Support From Others.
If his friends hadn’t bothered to carry the lame man to the feet of Jesus he most probably would not have been healed on that day. We don’t know who approached whom for this “outing” to get to Jesus. Obviously there was mutual agreement among them that it was going to be worthwhile for the man’s friends to carry their lame friend to Jesus. There are times when we all need the support of others as we reach out to the Lord for His blessing. We often carry our family members and friends on the stretchers of our faith to be healed by the Lord.
2. Putting Faith to Work!
They tried to carry the lame man into the house to lay him down before Jesus. But it was packed out. They persevered. They applied lateral thinking. It was obvious a horizontal approach was not possible with such a crowd around the door. So they decided on a vertical approach. To get up on the roof and lower him down at the feet of Jesus. They formulated a plan. They put it into action. As James wrote, “Faith apart from works is dead!” James 2:26. When we believe we know the way forward in any undertaking we still have to put it into practice. As many preachers have said, “Faith has legs.”
3. A Willingness To Persevere Even When The Going Gets Tough [And Tougher!]
It may be that we don’t appreciate the effort that these men went to, to bring their friend to Jesus. They faced the challenge of carrying him on the mattress [or bed] up the external stairs. It was difficult but they persevered. [Many years ago when we were living in Sydney on the third level of our building I decided to have a go at hauling our groceries up the almost 40 feet height on to our open verandah. That would save me carrying them up the 39 steps on very narrow staircases to get to our kitchen. I only tried it once as there was no place for a pulley or other help. Leaning out over the verandah rail and lifting a dead-weight heavy load was not an easy task. I discovered I had a new-found admiration for these men who carried the lame man up the stairs.
They continued to persevere as they made an opening in the roof for the bed to be lowered to the floor below. Mark describes their action as digging a hole in the roof. That would have taken a while. But they persevered.
Now came the easy part, one would think. Lowering the man on his bed to the feet of Jesus. Surely lowering would be easier than hauling up. But they had a fight on their hands. A fight against a force called gravity. They had fought against gravity in hauling him up the stairs. Now they were to face that same force wanting to drag the man down as they tried to lower him slowly. Again they persevered until he was deposited safely on the floor before Jesus. [Again I learned to appreciate all the effort involved when I had another brilliant idea when we living on that third level in Sydney. That was, to lower our bags of rubbish over the verandah rail instead of carrying them all the way downstairs. Great in theory, but trying to hang onto the rope as the [much lighter than a man] weight of the rubbish dragged me almost over the edge was not a pleasant experience. It’s no use persevering in an activity that is doomed to fail. But these men persevered until their credible plan was accomplished.
4. A Recognition Of One’s Real Needs
We read that Jesus saw their faith. They had gone to all that trouble to get their friend to Jesus. They all had faith to believe it was all going to be worthwhile for the lame man to come before Jesus. Jesus could cut to the chase. He addressed the man’s greatest need. A right relationship with God. Forgiveness of all his sins, “When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.” Luke 5:20. It is instructive that the lame man didn’t get upset with Jesus’ words. He could have become resentful that he had come all this way under great difficulty to receive healing but now Jesus was talking about something else seemingly unrelated to his physical need. The lame man was not living in denial about his real needs. He appeared to recognise that he needed forgiveness as well as physical healing.
5. Persevering In Faith In Spite Of Opposition
The religious leaders who were there had silent conniptions. We read that the Pharisees and the teachers of the law began thinking to themselves, “Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” Luke 5:21. But Jesus knew their hearts and minds. He gave them a puzzle to consider, “Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’?” Luke 5:23. The answer of course is that it is easier to say the former because there is no way it can be proved. However to say, “Get up and walk” makes the speaker appear to be a charlatan if the person doesn’t do so. One requires proof. The other can’t be proved.
Jesus was about to establish His claim that He had the authority to forgive sins, by doing the more difficult thing, by healing the lame man, ‘But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the paralyzed man, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.”’ Luke 5:24. The healing would establish the fact [for those with eyes to see] that Jesus was operating under God’s authority to both heal and forgive.
How sad it is that it is often religious leaders who are so opposed to the possibility of God’s healing power being at work in today’s world! One has to wonder when those who say in the Creed, “I believe in God the Father Almighty” have difficulty in believing He can do things in today’s world!
6. The Final Step Of Faith. “Trust And Obey.”
The lame man and his friends had taken all these steps of faith in bringing him to Jesus. In a sense that was all the friends could do. It was now up to an encounter of the lame man with Jesus. Jesus addressed him personally, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” Jesus gave him 3 impossible things for him to do as expressions of his faith.
He had to try to stand up. He tried in faith to do so. He succeeded.
He had to try to pick up his mat. He tried in faith to do so. He succeeded.
He tried to begin to walk home. He tried in faith to do so. He succeeded.
He had trusted in Jesus for healing and the healing came as he obeyed the words of Jesus.
An Australian Prime Minister once declared that “Life wasn’t meant to be easy!” That was a true observation. But it is also true to say that the life of faith is not easy either. There are many obstacles on the way to receiving God’s best for us. There are many steps of faith we have to take to achieve our goal. However this story of persevering faith [evidenced in the paralysed man and his friends] is a great encouragement to us to persevere in trusting and obeying Jesus in order to receive the goal He has placed on our hearts. Even sometimes what seem to be impossible goals.
Blog No.310 posted on http://www.jimholbeck.blog on Friday 1st February 2019