Text: Luke 5:16-26
Date: Sunday November 12, 2023
A. Opening Illustration: Today there is great question of who Jesus Christ is. Depending on where you live the division is so heated, that faith in Jesus Christ can get you excommunicated from community, persecuted, or even killed. Here in America, the stakes are not quite so high, but still we all know that that there are certain places and people with whom bringing up Jesus just sets the room ablaze. It’s one thing to talk about God or spirituality. But to get specific, to speak about Jesus in a real way, in a historic way, in a faithful way, that is just too sensitive. And it begs the question, “Who is this man, who around the world, is the most divisive person in history?” “Who is this man that 2,000 years later can divide households? Who is this person who changes lives? Who is this person that some receive with joy and other reject with anger and hatred?” Who is Jesus?
B. Personal: And so today I wanto start by asking you, “Who do you believe Jesus is?” At the end of the day, what you believe about Jesus is the most important thing about you. It defines you one way or the other. Who is Jesus?
B. Context: As we continue our study through the Gospel of Luke, we come to a scene in a home. The context is that the Pharisees and other religious leaders of Jesus day are seated in a house, and many were coming from all around the area to witness Jesus’ ministry. He was becoming quite a figure at this point, and quite a polarizing figure among the religious leaders who didn’t know what to do with him. No one could deny the miracles he was performing. But they were struggling with exactly who he was at the end of the day. In fact in our passage, those are the exact words the religous leaders are thinking to each other, “Who is this man?” Today, I want to look at this extraordinary passage of the healing of the paralytic, and together we’ll discover five responses to the question, “Who is this man?”
Read the text.
Meaning & Application
I. JESUS IS THE ONE TO WHOM WE MUST EARNESTLY GET OUR FRIENDS
First, who is Jesus? He is the one to whom we must get earnestly our friends.
A. The Four Friends: These four friends have something to teach us. Consider them for a moment. We do not know their backgrounds or how far they traveled. What we do know is that they had a friend with paralysis, and they had heard some rumors that the rabbi Jesus was healing people with all kinds of infirmities. And so they made a plan. Early in the morning they rose, and placed their friend on a stretcher. Those four friends carried him to the house where Jesus was. All they wanted to do was to get him to Jesus. But as they got to the house, the crowds at the door were so great that they could not fit through with the stretcher. But they would not be deterred. They took the stairs on the outside of the house that led to the roof. Roofs in those days were often thatched and/or had hardened clay tiles. These men removed the clay tiles from the roof. At this point they are breaking all kinds of societal and cultural norms. They are dismantling the roof of a house of a man they do not know. They’re invading the space of a well known rabbi. They’re doing it all in the presence of the religious elite, the pharisees who were sitting there in the room with watching eyes. They don’t say a word to Jesus. Their one thought is get our friend to Jesus. Do whatever it takes to get our friend to the healer. Don’t care who thinks you are a fool, so long as you get your friend to the healer.
B. We All Have Loved Ones: We all have friends who are hurting in one way or another. I am often amazed how many Christians have no fervency to get their friends and family to Jesus. Think of all the hardship you have been through. Now imagine doing it all without Jesus. Without the hope of our glorious inheritance, without the comfort of the Spirit, and the guidance of the Scriptures, and the love of the Church. Your friends need Jesus.
C. How?: It’s one thing to want to get them to Jesus. But how do you do it? Let’s consider the text.
#1 It Will Take More Than One Person: Very often, it is going to take more than just you to see a friend healed spiritually. It took four men to carry the bed on which the paralytic lay. Very often God will utilize a number of people and each of their different gifts in a healing story. This is why when Abraham went to rescue his nephew lot, he did not go alone, but he took with him trained men to help with the rescue. If there is someone in your life who needs rescue, consider that though your part in their story may be vital, there are other gifts and voices that may be needed as well.
#2 Have a Plan: Secondly, notice that the friends had a plan. They woke up in the early in the morning with an intentionality, “We are going to get our friend to Jesus today.” One of the great mistakes that Christians make is that we assume that simply by being a friend with somebody, that one day some very natural opportunity is going to come up to get them to Jesus. Maybe that is true. But maybe its not. There needs to be a loving plan. And notice how the plan changed. At one point when they could not use the door as they had planned, they adjusted their plan. So it is with us. If the first effort fails, do not give up. Find another way. Climb the stairs. Peal back the tiles.
#3 Break Conventions: This brings to the third point underneath this principle. Do not be afraid to break conventions. Do not be afraid to be a fool for the sake of Christ. We must have it in our hearts, that we will do whatever it takes, no matter how strange it seems, to get lost souls to Christ, to get wounded ones to the healer. Charles Spurgeon says it well when he writes,
If we want to have souls saved, we must not be too squeamish and delicate about conventionalities, rules, and proprieties, for the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence. We must make up our minds to this: “Smash or crash, everything shall go to pieces which stands between the soul and its God: it matters not what tiles are to be taken off, what plaster is to be digged up, or what boards are to be torn away, or what labor, or trouble, or expense we may be at; the soul is too precious for us to stand upon nice questions. If by any means we may save some, is our policy. Skin for skin, yea, all that we have is nothing comparable to a man’s soul.”
Our evangelism ought to have a sense of “holy creativity” about it. We need a “creative gospel determination” in our love of others. We need an inner sense that has to get them to Jesus no matter how long or how hard it gets.
D. Personal Reflection: Does this describe your faith? Do you have an intentionality about you? Do you have a prayerfulness about you in regards to their healing and salvation? We are to be like these men who have a creative gospel determination inside of us to get people to Jesus.
“Who is this man?” He is the one to whom we must earnestly get our friends.
II. HE IS DANIEL’S SON OF MAN
Second, Christ is the true of Son of Man (24). This is the first time Luke introduces us to this title, but he will use it twenty four more times in this Gospel. Where does this come from? What does this title mean?
A. Background of Daniel: This was a title that would have been very well known to every person in that room on that day. It is used in the New Testament throughout the prophets, but its most important usage comes from the prophet Daniel. In Daniel 7, the prophet Daniel has a vision of his future. His prophecy was made during the days of King Belshazzar in Babylon. And in this vision Daniel foresaw four great world empires rise up on the worlds scene. History played out exactly as the prophet Daniel saw. First was the Babylonian Empire. Then the Medo-Persian Empire. Then the Greek Empire. The fourth was the Roman Empire. And in the midst of the fourth empire we read this prophecy from Daniel
Daniel 7:13–14 ““I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.”
About 530 years after Daniel made these remarks, Jesus stepped into the midst of the Roman Empire, claiming to be the Messiah. And here for the first time, he takes on the title “Son of Man.” I imagine the Pharisees and the Rules of the Law watching from the corner choked at Christ’s use of this phrase, for they knew what it meant.
B. The Significance of This: What is the significance of this? The significance is not just that he took the title, but the significance is the rest of the prophecy. Daniel said that when the Son of Man arrived he would establish a Kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages would serve. This would be an everlasting kingdom that would have no end. And this kingdom would be greater and mightier than every kingdom ever created on this Earth by any man. Friends, Jesus is the Son of Man. He has established his kingdom. And as we speak, the most important thing happening in this world, is Christ’s kingdom ruling and expanding.
C. His Kingdom Built on Love & Healing: I find it significant that the first act we know Jesus did upon using this Messianic Title that signifies the coming of a new kingdom into the world, was to heal a paralytic and to forgive his sins. Jesus, the Son of Man, has established his eternal Kingdom. This kingdom is unlike every other kingdom in the world. Every other kingdom vies for power through use of force. Christ’s Kingdom primarily expands through love, through atonement, through the joy of the Lord. It was Napolean Bonaparte who said this perhaps most clearly.
“Alexandar, Caesar, Charlemagne, and I have founded empires. But on what did we rest the creations of our genius? Upon force. Jesus Christ founded his empire upon love; and at this h our millions of men would die for him.”Napolean Bonaparte
D. Principles: Jesus is the Son of Man prophecied by Daniel. What ought this do to your faith?
No Matter What Christ is on the Throne: First, no matter what happens, Christ is on the throne and in charge. The Son of Man has authority right now. His Kingdom reigns right now. When your life feels upside down, when you feel out of control, know that Christ has all control. He was given authority and dominion. The Apostle Paul says it so well,
Romans 8:31 ESV What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
Are We A Worthy Outpost?: Second, I believe this forces us to ask ourselves as a Church, are we a worthy outpost of the Kingdom of the Son of Man. Does this Church reflect the ethics of the man Jesus. Does it look like him? Do we love others like him? When people visit, do they leave having experienced something of the flavor of Chrsit and the aroma Christ in us and among us.
III. HE IS THE GREAT DIVIDING LINE
Third, Jesus is the great dividing line. Look at the two different responses of this crowd.
A Two Different Interpretations: On the one hand you have the pharisees who cannot fathom that Christ truly is the Son of Man foreshadowed in Daniel. They’re muttering under their breath, claiming he is a blasphemer. On the other hand you have the crowds who are “seized with amazement” and “filled with awe”(26). How did people who were in the same room, witnessed the same events, saw the same paralytic man get up and walk away, leave with two wildly different interpretations of what they saw. They were so stubborn, that no matter what the evidence showed them, they would not believe.
B Biblical Support: Jesus is not surprised by this. In fact, the entire New Testament teaches us that there would be a great division about this Son of Man. Consider Matthew 10:34-36 where Jesus says
Matthew 10:34–36 ESV “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household.
When Jesus says he has come to bring a sword, that does not advocate violence, it is a metaphor to speak of the division that will occur even within families. How many of us know this to be true. I know many in this room who have loved ones who believe you to be a crazy lunatic because of your faith in Christ. Some of you have actually been disowned by family members because of your faith in Jesus. I know that something I have often experienced is the unfortunate reality that many nonbelieving family and friends of mine, assume all kinds of false things about me, because of my love of Jesus.
C There Is No Middle Ground: Friends, Christ is the dividing line. You will either stand with Christ or you will perish with the crowd. There is no middle ground. There is no lukewarm Christian. And my heart in sharing this from this passage today is simply to say, do not be surprised that the world is divided over Christ. This is to be expected. Do not be surprised when you are slandered for following Christ. This too is to be expected.
D Concern for Hidden Christians: One concern I have for many modern Christians is that we believe we can go through life, as Christians on Sunday, but then hiding our Christian faith the rest of the week. Nobody at our offices would ever guess that we were Christians. None of our neighbors would ever know we are devout in our faith, hungry for the word of God. We hide the best part of us from the world. Why? Because we know that Jesus is a dividing line, and we don’t want to take the heat. O Church, there is a way to be foolish in the way you carry your faith. It is possible to be overly brash and a poor witness for Christ. Yet that is not most people’s problem. Do not be afraid to clearly state that you follow Jesus in the eyes of others. You shouldn’t be able to hide that part of you very easily, otherwise its not a very deep part of you. Christ is the best thing you have going, don’t rob others of His glory!
IV. HE IS THE TRUE PHYSICIAN OF YOUR SOUL
Fourth, Christ is the true phsyician.
A Imagine the Scene: This story is a story of a healing of a young man who was a paralytic. But imagine this man for a moment. Those of you who have ever moved houses in Chicago know what it’s like to move a large bed frame up a tiny staircase. Try it with a paralyzed friend lying on the mattress. There he is, holding on for dear life as he wobbles his way up the stairs onto the roof. From above they can look down at the edges of the crowd. The four friends take two ropes and tie the ropes one around the front of the bed and one towards the bottom. Can you imagine this young man. I bet he was partially terrified at this moment. Let’s go back… This was a dumb idea… But the friends are determined.
If I Could Just Be Healed: Now pause here for a moment. Why is he there before Jesus? What does he want? The greatest desire in his life to be healed. All his life he has looked at the world and thought if I could just be healed then I would be fine. That would solve everything. And here he is before the healer himself. This is the moment. HIs legs are going to be fixed! He’s banked it all on this. And Jesus looks with compassion and says, “Son your sins are forgiven.” Now I don’t know exactly how the young man responded when Jesus said that, but I imagine that it was something like this, “Well that’s nice… That’s actually not why I came. Jesus don’t go all spiritual on me, what I really need is my legs. If I could just get my legs back then I’d never be unhappy again.”
Your Biggest Need: And I imagine Jesus saying, “If all I do is heal your body and don’t deal with the greater issues of discontentment in your heart, you will be back here in four months with a new longing, with a new craving that can never be satisfied. I know you think the paralysis of your legs is your biggest need, but I assure you the issues of the human heart go much deeper.” And so first, Christ deals with his greater need, his soul. And only then, does he heal his body.
B Idolatry: The heart of all idolatry is the belief that something other than sin’s power to detach us from God is the main problem in our life and in the world. Many of us come into a place like this just like the paralytic. We’re striving for something in our life and we’re convinced that if we can have that thing, then our life will be good, then we’ll be happy.
- If my kid would just obey me
- If I could just be married
- If I just looked like that person
- If my parents had treated me different
- If I was smarter
- If I just had a bit more money
- If I can just land that job
C Illustration – Sara: Just this last week my wife and I were chatting about this. One of our adopted daughters has had some fairly significant behavioral challenges over the last few years. By God’s grace, the last few months have been extraordinary growth. We’re so proud of her. But last week, she backslid a little bit. And my wonderful wife, who has carried so much of the weight of much of this, began to get emotionally fearful. I could just see her playing the ‘what ifs’ through her mind, worrying for a night. And in the morning after she had spent time in the word, she shared with me how much her contentment was being based off of our child’s performance, and not God’s provision.
D Make It Personal: Look at Christ. Jesus ultimately heals this man’s paralysis, but not before he deals with the soul. What are you desparate for today? What most consumes your longings when you think – if only…? Know this, Christ might give that to you, in time. But he is more concerned with fixing the deeper issues of your heart first. That’s why he has you here.
Unbeliever: If you’re not a Christian, his first move is to radically change your heart, and give you new life in Christ.
Mark 8:36 ESV For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?
O friend, no matter how much you gain in this world, no matter how you overcome in this world, you will one day face your judge. And if you have not had your soul healed by Christ in this world, then you will carry that broken soul with you into the next. If you are outside of Christ in this world, you will remain outside of Christ in the next. May it not be so. Let Christ heal your soul today. It’s not about what you think its about. Your soul needs Christ!
Believer: But if you’re a believer, you must train yourself to see beyond the issue. What is God teaching you through this? To see the deeper soul work that God might be doing in you. Your story is not complete. He wants to give you life. He wants to raise you to new places of faith and trust and contentment in God. He wants to pour the Holy Spirit through you! Repent of you, “If I just had…” statements. Learn to trust in Christ.
V. HE IS THE GLORIOUS ONE
Let me close briefly with this fifth and final point. Whos is Jesus. He is glorious.Luke 5:26 ESV
And amazement seized them all, and they glorified God and were filled with awe, saying, “We have seen extraordinary things today.”
Who is this man? Let me tell you who he is. He is the Christ, the chosen one of Israel. A light to the nations. He is the visible image of the invisible God and by him all things were created in heaven and on Earth. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. The fulness of God was pleased to dwell in him (Colossians 1:16-18). Before Abraham was, He was (John 8:58).
He walked with Adam in the garden. He, spoke with Abram on the hill. He wrestled with Jacob in the field. He was the fourth man in the fire shielding shadrach, mishak, and abdendago from the flames. Isaiah stood in his throne room. Ezekiel stood in his throne room. The angels adore him. The demons tremble before him. The nations will bow before him.
He is the spoken word of God that became the living word of God. He is both Alpha and Omega. He is the Lion of Judah, and the lamb that was slain.
He is King and Servant. He is crucified, and risen. He is humble and glorious. His yolk is easy and his burden is light. He knows the hairs on your head, and he knows the thoughts in your mind. He knows the number of your days.
At his command legions of angels armies are sent forth. He is Daniel’s Son of Man who rules and reigns right now. Justice and righteousness are the foundation of his throne. One day he will return, with the cry of command, and the voice of archangel, and the sound of the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will be raised first. And all who are in him will receive mercy everlasting. We will receive crowns of glory, that we will lay down at his feet in honor of the one true King. He is glorious!