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15. 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.
16. And He withdrew himself into the wilderness, and prayed.
17. 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 Judaea, and Jerusalem: and the power of the Lord was present to heal them.
18. 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.
19. 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.
20. And when he saw their faith, he said unto him, Man, thy sins are forgiven thee.
21. And the scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, Who is this which speaketh blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone?
22. But when Jesus perceived their thoughts, he answering said unto them, What reason ye in your hearts?
23. Whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Rise up and walk?
24. 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.
25. And immediately he rose up before them, and took up that whereon he lay, and departed to his own house, glorifying God.
26. And they were all amazed, and they glorified God, and were filled with fear, saying, We have seen strange things to day.
I want to talk to you about this great episode in the ministry of Jesus when He brings healing and salvation both to a man that was in desperate need. He is questioned about His authority to forgive sins, but He demonstrates His great authority and power, not only over sickness and disease but over sin as well.
We are told in verse 15 that His fame was growing abroad so that He was attracting great multitudes. Luke has used that expression of Jesus and talking about His fame two times before this. Each time where the King James has translated the Greek term here and called it fame, Luke actually uses three different words to talk about the spreading of His fame. The first word just simply means “a rumor or a saying’. People began to say and rumor it around and spread a rumor. You know if you want something to move really fast, you just start a rumor and that goes much faster than anything else. So that’s the first word he uses. The next word in chapter 4, verse 37 (the other one was in 4:14), but 4:37 that word means “a loud noise” and His fame was spreading. It got out of that kind of silent rumor where people just say one thing or another, but it got really picked up and it was spread like a loud noise. It’s the word from which we get ‘echo’ and it’s as if there is just yelling and hollering about it and it is echoing across the country, so to speak, to everybody they see. And then the word here in 5:15 is the word ‘logos’ which means “the Word”. They were hearing the truth and the Word about Jesus and what He was saying and what He was teaching and it indicates that they were receiving some understanding of His ministry and what He was really doing. So it attracted great crowds.
I’m glad that there is always a beautiful magnetism about Jesus and His ministry and His presence and His power. There is nothing in this world that is so attractive in any church that draws people like the manifestation of the power and presence of God. We can do all kinds of things, but nothing gets the attention of people more than hearing the report of a miracle of God…someone being healed, someone being saved whose life has been transformed, a miraculous work of God that has been done because there is a tremendous magnetism. People are hungry to hear from God. They are hungry for the touch of God. They are hungry to see the demonstration of God’s Spirit and His power.
The greatest thing the church has ever had going for it –I’m talking about the Church of God – is the fact that we were Pentecostal and we had the demonstration of the Spirit and power of God. That’s the greatest thing we’ve ever had going for us. When we lose that then we don’t have much left. We might have a few things that we could feel proud about, but that doesn’t do anything about bringing people to Christ. But it’s wherever Jesus is and His presence and His power is working as is indicated here just a little later on where He was teaching and it says ‘the presence of the Lord was there to heal.’ That is a tremendous statement. When He was teaching and preaching the presence of God to deliver and heal was there in the midst of the people. Nothing is any greater than that.
So, we begin here to talk about one of the first events of Jesus’ ministry here that creates a tremendous controversy and conflict. There are five of them just stacked back to back. Luke has done this and placed them together and just show that Jesus, here in the midst of great unbelief and criticism is nevertheless preaching and teaching and performing miracles. I like the fact that even though there may be controversy about His ministry and what He says and what He does, yet the devil cannot tie His hands. He goes on preaching and teaching and the power of God is manifested.
For in these five different controversies, they start off with the people, as you will see, reasoning in their minds and Jesus reads their minds, so to speak. He perceives their thoughts the Bible says. But as we go on to other things that they criticize Him about, well the criticism becomes more open. Next time, they are murmuring to the disciples. And then they’re speaking right out and questioning Him. And then the first thing you know, they are becoming open and almost violent in their contradictions of what He is doing. That’s the way opposition grows, you see. The more the power of God is manifested, the more the opposition increases and Satan gets more stirred up and that’s great. It’s a great thing when you make the devil mad enough that he kicks up a fuss about what God is doing in the midst of God’s people. Our problem these days is we never quite do enough to make him real mad! But oh, hallelujah! It’s a great and glorious thing when there is enough of God’s presence being manifested in the lives of His people and in worship that Satan gets uneasy and he really starts working against the church. Then you know you’re really about to dislodge him and his influence and his power and that causes him great disturbance and distress. But who cares if the devil gets distressed? Amen? Who cares?! Let him be distressed. Let him be worried. Let him get upset. That’s alright. Amen.
I’m glad that right in the midst of unbelief and opposition and criticism the Lord Jesus still has the authority to speak peace to a sinful heart and bring cleansing and healing to a life that was just broken and who needed help so very much. It’s still that way. I know that unbelief can tie your hands with a lot of things, but not with Christ. I like to think for example of Elijah on Mt. Carmel. Here he is with 450 prophets and 850, I think in all, and everyone of them standing against him and it doesn’t matter. He just prays a short prayer and the fire of God falls. Amen! Aren’t you glad that God knows how to bring the fire down and manifest his power even in the midst of tremendous opposition. Oh, thank God, hallelujah!
Well, let’s look at this story tonight and go just a little further and really see this great truth that I think is embodied in this passage and that is: Jesus heals and performs miracles and forgives sins and He does this on the basis of faith that reaches out to Him despite of the opposition that may be around. Thank God.
In the first place, I want you to look at this thing of people who are concerned about somebody who is in need and because of their burden and vision and concern they participate in a great miracle. There is something about the gospels that indicates that in almost every miracle that Jesus performed, many of the miracles, somebody played a part in helping that miracle come to pass. You see, the Lord loves to work through people who have vision and burden and concern about somebody who is hurting and who needs healing and who needs salvation. The Lord loves to link up with people like that. Here are crowds of people around Him. His fame has been increasing more and more. He is in a particular place and He is evidently in a house and the place is filled. Nobody else can get in. The yard seems to be filled. There are just crowds of people. There are really important folks, too, the Pharisees and doctors of the Law. They came from all over Galilee and Judea and Jerusalem. It’s a picture of all kinds of prominent people. But here are some men who don’t care. They don’t care who the visitors are. They don’t care if they are big shots from all over. That’s not really their concern. Their concern is ‘here is a neighbor, a friend that they love, they want to get him to Jesus.’ I wish we had that kind of reckless determination that says we don’t care who’s around Jesus – here’s somebody we’ve got to get to Him. Amen! And so they just simply carried him. They picked up his cot, or his little bed or whatever he was on, and they just simply took him. They took him. Now I don’t know how far I could go with this application in urging you to just take people, get ahold of them, take them. Probably not as far as Bryant Collins. He was raised up with a fellow and they were both very sinful and one of them was called Bad Boy and Bryant was called Big Boy. They were mean. You didn’t want to tangle with either one of them. But after Bryant got saved, he had this dream. He was out in a field. He saw a bunch of people. He went out to see what they were doing. They were standing around an old well, a big dug well and down in this well was somebody crying for help. When he looked down and recognized the voice, he said ‘That’s old Bad Boy’ and he said ‘Hold on, Bad Boy, all I need to get you out of there is a rope.’ And he woke up, just like that. The next day he put a rope in his old station wagon and he went to invite Bad Boy to church, and Bad Boy wasn’t going to go. He said ‘Yep, you’re going with me today.’ And he ran him down, tied him up and took him! He set him on the front seat right in front of the preacher, tied up and gagged! After awhile, he said ‘Now, Bad Boy, if you won’t cuss and make noise I’ll take that gag out of your mouth,’ and he nodded. And then he said ‘Now if you’ll behave yourself I’ll loose these ropes off of you,’ and he nodded. And the preacher preached like that was a common thing. I can just imagine what some of us would have done with somebody come in with a hunk of a guy on his shoulder and slams him down on the pew. Well, he got saved that night! Two weeks later, Bryant was awakened calling him and he said ‘Oh, that’s Bad Boy calling me.’ He got up and went to his house. No telephone, went to his house. He went in and Bad Boy was dying and he had been calling him. Bryant, I want you to preach my funeral.
I don’t know how far you can go, but these four fellows just grabbed the man’s bed and picked him u p and carried him. They said ‘We’re going to get him to Jesus and we’re going to get him right down in front of Jesus. We’re going to lay him before the Lord. We’re going to get the Lord’s attention on this case.’ Amen! I believe with all my heart that when you get that kind of burden and that kind of vision about somebody and you really lay them before the Lord and you get his attention on that case I believe He will act. I believe He will do something about it because the Bible says that when he saw their faith, it was not the faith of the palsied man, it was THEIR faith. There’s no telling how much good gets done in this world for people and they don’t even realize how it came about because somebody else touched God and believed God and laid them before the throne of grace to obtain mercy. I believe you can pray people in. I believe you can pray people out of bondage. I believe you can bring them before Jesus and He will do something about it. Praise God! Why don’t you testify just a little bit? How many of you have brought somebody in prayer before God and He has delivered them? Would you raise your hand as a testimony? Oh, yes! You know what I’m talking about. Oh, hallelujah! Praise His wonderful name!
And then Jesus spoke to him. He is always influenced and touched by people who have burden and people who have faith, people who have love and concern have faith. They didn’t tell Him what to do. They knew He would know what to do. Oh, hallelujah! We don’t have to give the Lord instructions as to how we want it done. He knows how. Amen! So he started off in an unusual way. He turned to this young man and he said ‘Son, thy sins be forgiven thee.’ Now there’s going to be a lot come of that with these people who are standing around wanting to find something to criticize him about. You know, they’ve still got a lot of kinfolks all over the world. People who just stand around the church to see if there will be something happen that they can criticize and find fault with. I don’t like this church because __________. Man, you can fill in that blank every which way. I don’t like that preacher because __________. You know, you can fill in that blank with all kinds of things. But the Lord didn’t care. He said ‘Your sins be forgiven you.’ So they started tightening up. The tension went up the back of their necks like crazy. They reasoned in their heart that this man is blaspheming – who can forgive sins but God? But Jesus perceived their thoughts. I don’t know about these so-called mind readers and modern psychology and stuff and I don’t know all I’d like to know about that perhaps, but I know that the Lord Jesus Christ can look right deep into your heart and mind. He knows your thoughts even from afar off. That ought to fill us with some sense of awe that He reads us through and through all time. They reasoned.
That’s another thing that’s in this chapter. It shows us that when it comes to faith and miracles of salvation and healing, you have to throw reasoning out the door. If you wait until you can figure out everything and reason it out, well you’ll never see God work. Just believe Him and His power and accept what He does by faith. Faith has to take over and reason has to be set aside because the Lord has done many, many things that are totally unexplainable. You can’t reason it out. You can’t figure it out. He does it according to His own divine love and purpose and will. He understood their thoughts, so He took some time to kind of show them an active parable and some proof that He had power to forgive sins. You see, the Jews, those Pharisees and others they had it all figured out. The only way you can get to God is through the system. Institutionalized religion of Judaism…that’s the only way, through the temple and through certain priests and all this. It’s going to cost you money. You have to pay dearly. You’ve got to pay for sacrifices and all that. They don’t realize what they did when they said ‘Let His blood be on us and our children.’ They never realized it.
But the whole New Testament is written to let us know that there is no system, no organized religion that can declare the rights to bring you grace and peace just through their system alone and this is the only way to get to God. You can’t sell indulgences and you can’t – no matter how big you get as a church group in this world – you cannot hoard the grace of God and handle it and keep it to yourself so that nobody else can get through to the mercy and the throne of grace. It just doesn’t work that way. As a matter of fact, when you look at what Jesus said about Judaism, He used all kinds of illustrations. When He cleansed the temple, He called it a den of thieves. When He cursed the barren fig tree, He was really looking toward the barren fig tree of Judaism and saying ‘Nobody can ever have any fruit off of this dead thing. It might as well die.’ He looked at the old wineskins that could not hold any new wine and He said ‘You can’t put the new wine of the kingdom of God and the gospel of Jesus Christ in the old shell, the wineskin of Judaism, it’ll burst and everything will be lost.’
What He is saying is there is direct access to God but anybody who comes before the Lord Jesus Christ, the Great High Priest and it does not matter who you are or where you are from, you have the opportunity to walk right up to the throne. He has invited us to come with boldness to obtain mercy to help in the time of need. Hallelujah! Direct, divine access to the throne of God through Jesus Christ, the Lord.
I’m not throwing off on the church and it’s ministry. I’m just trying to state and probably overstating this point that nobody can lock up the grace and say ‘We handled it and you don’t get to God unless you come through us.’ Nobody – it’s wide open. Hallelujah! The river of God’s mercy and grace that flows from the throne of God, it comes to all men alike. Praise God! And nobody can keep you back. Hallelujah! Praise God for His grace!
But Jesus demonstrates His saying, His teaching with a tremendous acted parable of divine healing. He said, ‘Now look, why reason you in your minds like you’re doing? What’s easier to say thy sins be forgiven thee or rise, take up thy bed and walk?’ And to show you that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sin, He healed this young man. I think He shows us another beautiful thing here. Healing has to do with body and soul, mind and spirit, the whole person. Salvation has to do with the whole person. A lot of people want outer, physical healing who desperately need the inner healing from the wounds of sin and disobedience. We are reluctant to open up ourselves to God and confess our need of what’s on the inside. But it was Jesus’ pattern here to set everything straight on the inside of this man’s heart the forgiveness of sin before He healed him with his physical need. And the whole process was one of great healing mercy.
Oh, I could ask you to testify again how many of you have been healed from deep within and you would raise your hand. I could ask how many have been healed with physical healing and you would raise your hand. Thank God for healing mercies that come to us to bring forgiveness and peace and to put our hearts and minds at ease because the scientists keep trying to tell us that there are so many of our afflictions are psychosomatic, that somehow if we could get our insides straightened out and our thinking and our stress and get peace, that a lot of the maladies that we have would just fade away. Praise God.
I tell you what, the most expensive tranquilizer can’t do for you what one touch of the Master’s Hand can do for you. Hallelujah! People do all kinds of things to drown out their guilt and condemnation. But simple forgiveness from God is the greatest healing medicine I know of to take care of maladies like that. The result of the healing is just absolutely tremendous. First of all, the man rose up and he departed to his own house, glorifying God. Now I want you to understand there are reasons why God heals people. There are reasons for miracles. There are reasons for the manifestation of God’s power to deliver people. First of all, He does it out of compassion for hurting people. He doesn’t want to see people suffer and He heals to relieve the sinfulness and the guilt and the condemnation and to heal pain and suffering. Yes, He can be touched with our infirmities and He can be moved by our infirmities. That is one of the first reasons but it may not be the most important reason. I have to be careful how I say this because I don’t suppose there is anything that can surpass or go beyond the mercy and grace of the Lord to reach out touch us. But there’s another important reason.
The Bible says that the people that saw this were all amazed and they glorified God and they were all filled with fear. One of the greatest reasons that miracles are performed, and you can see this throughout the book of Acts in the early church and all those miracles, is to cause people to recognize God at work and to give Him all the glory. Somehow or another if we could ever get to the place that we could just back away and like Jesus taught us to pray and say ‘…For Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.’
I told you about a friend of mine who is a pastor in Chattanooga who went to a church growth meeting in Atlanta, Georgia and Carl George said to the group, “I want you to pray and say to God, ‘Lord, what do you want to be in my church?’” “Don’t pray,” he said ‘Lord, what do you want me to be?’” “No, don’t pray, ‘Lord what do you want me to do?’” “Don’t pray that. But pray ‘Lord, what do you want? What do you want to be in my life and in my church?’” And he said when he began to pray like that in sincerity and earnestness, the Lord answered him four things. The first one: I want to be glorified. I want to be glorified. The next one: I want to be seen. They’ve seen you and your church long enough. Let them see Me. Someway, Oh God, wrap us up in the cloak of Your righteousness and holiness and power and let us be hid so that the people can see the glory of God. Can you say Amen? Hallelujah! The thing thing He said was: I want to be known. You know about Me and you talk about the Bible, but I want the people to know Me. And the fourth thing He simply said: I want to be God.
Oh, my heart is hungry for us somehow to let God be God and give Him all the glory and let people see Him and know Him. That friend of mine took that as a theology of ministry and guidelines for his ministry and church and he came back and his church over-doubled in one year. One day he went to pray for a man who was dying of cancer in the hospital and on the way he said ‘God, what would it take for this young man to be healed?’ And God spoke to him again and said ‘If you won’t try to capitalize on the event, if you won’t try to advertise and say come over here to this church where people get healed, if you won’t take the glory, I’ll heal him.’ And he went in crying and praying and God healed the man of cancer! The Lord performs miracles. He brings salvation and healing, first of all to bless people – sure, but that He may be glorified and in this case, the fear of God came upon them. He performs His miraculous powers to bring the fear of God upon us all because we know good and well that when the miraculous power of God is in operation we get ready to bow our faces on the floor in the fear of God and we’re not so exalted in pride and we don’t have such an independent spirit and feeling and we get ready for God to be God and let’s bow before Him. Hallelujah!
If there’s any one thing that the church needs out of a whole lot of lists that we need, it is a new baptism of Godly fear and reverence. We become so familiar with this Pentecostal experience and blessings that sometimes we just take it for granted that it’s going to be there and we no longer have the fear of God that causes us to bow in holiness and humility. You see, when you’re walking in the fear of God, you see Him as the Holy Exalted One and you don’t take things for granted and push in as if it really doesn’t matter.
I’ve been troubled here just recently over ministerial failure. I’ve been trying to study it and I’ve discovered that I think there are – you know F stands for failure – and there are three Fs that I think stand for ministerial failure. One of them is when faith is undermined and it begins to deteriorate and it goes into some kind of liberal theology and liberal thinking and we fail to believe the Word of God for what it says. That’s one of the Fs for failure. When the fire of the Holy Spirit, the fire of our calling as Paul told Timothy, fan the flame of your gift when the fire goes out and we become cold and indifferent and we just go on as if nothing happened. Like one man said, if God would take away the Holy Ghost from the church – the worldwide church – today, 95% of what we do would go on and nobody would know the difference. But then he quickly added, if God had taken the Holy Spirit from the early church, 95% of what they did would have stopped and everybody would have known the difference. The lack of fear, the lack of faith and the lack of fire that I’ve just talked about, those three Fs will cause you to fail when you lost any one of them.
God performs miracles, yes out of compassion to help suffering sinful people because that’s His nature and that’s His heart. But He also does it so people will glorify Him, and oftentimes He does it in such a way that people can’t get the glory and that’s good. And it’s so that we will fear Him and have reverence and respect and awe in His presence.
Hallelujah. I’m aware of the divine presence of God in this house tonight and as we come together for our closing prayer if you have a special need tonight, a need for healing, I want us somehow to get you right in front of Jesus Christ. I don’t know where that is, it may be standing her at this altar. But if you want prayer tonight, if there’s a need that you have, you just come and stand here. We’ll certainly pray for you. We will believe God that somehow we are putting you before the very throne of grace. Hallelujah.
Sometime ago the Lord impressed upon my heart a prayer chorus that says something like ‘Holy Father, God of mercy, let your glory fill this place. Help us bow in humble reverence. Sanctify us by Thy Grace. Blessed Jesus, Lord and Saviour, let Thy presence fill this place. Help us pray in faith believing. Justify us by Thy grace. Holy Spirit, fall upon us. Let Thy glory, Let Thy power fill this place. Come and fill us with Thy presence. Sanctify us by Thy grace. Come and fill us by Thy grace.’ That’s the way my heart is crying out and praying to the Lord tonight.
If you need prayer and want to join us in prayer tonight, come right on. There are people who have come with needs and we want to pray with them. If you have compassion in your heart, that is a good sign that God wants to work through you and use you. If you have some compassion in your heart toward people who are suffering, you come on and join us in this prayer.
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