THE WORD OF FORGIVENESS
Luke 5:17 26
D. L. Lowrie
Jesus spoke the word of forgiveness to the man. The result was the healing of the man and the shocking of His
critics. It was the boldest word Jesus ever spoke.
The man getting to Jesus is a story in itself. He had been the victim of a paralysis for an unknown period of time.
Concern for his condition prompted four friends to carry him to Jesus. Since he was unable to walk, they carried him
on a pallet. When they arrived at the home in which Jesus was meeting with a company of religious leaders, they
could not get into the house with their friend. The crowd was so absorbed in the confrontation of Jesus with the
teachers and scribes that they gave no attention to the apparent need of the man.
The four friends were men of faith. They carried their friend up to the roof of the house, tore up some of the tiles,
and let him down into the presence of Jesus. While this was a bold act on their part, it would not have been a very
difficult; feat. A stairway would be available on the side of the house, the tiled roof would be flat, so it would be fairly
easy to accomplish. Their carrying out the project is a sure sign of their faith. This was the thing that Jesus noticed
However, Jesus said to the man, "Friend, your sins are forgiven." This is the word of for¬giveness that I want us to
focus our attention on.
I. THE WORD OF FORGIVENESS NEEDED
If you had asked the four friends, ''What is the greatest need of your friend? Doubtlessly they would have said,
"Our friend is in desperate need of physical healing. The paralysis is keeping him from being able to function as an
ordinary human being." But Jesus knew that the man had a need that went deeper than the physical. He knew what
guilt will do.
The word of forgiveness is needed because of what guilt does to man's relationship to God. It was surely a serious
matter that this man could no longer walk physically with his friends, but it is more serious that he could no longer
wait with his God. Above everything else man was created to know God, to walk in communion with Him day by day,
to enjoy His fellowship forever. We are not told the nature of this man's transgression, but we can know that it had
shut him out from the presence of God. It was so important that this barrier be removed.
Have you read David's great confession in Psalm 51 recently? You will remember that David's sin had worked
devastation to Uriah and his wife Bathsheba. It had also brought shame and reproach on the rule of David over the
nation of Israel. But in the great prayer of confession David's primary concern was with what the sin had done to his
relationship to God. He prays, "Against you, you only have I sinned and done this evil in your sight." "Hide your face
from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. Create in me a clean heart, 0 God, and renew a stead¬fast spirit within me.
Do not cast me from your presence or take your holy spirit from me.'' (Ps. 51:4, 10, 11) What David experienced is
what every man experiences when he sins. He knows that he has offended his Holy Creator. He is defiled before
God. He can no longer walk with God. So this word of forgiveness is desperately needed because of what sin does
to our relationship with God.
Forgiveness is also needed because of what guilt does to the person. Scholars are not agreed about this man.
Some contend that the man's physical condition was not related to any parti¬cular, personal act of transgression.
Rather they see his condition only as a symptom of the sinful condition of the whole human family, a sign of the
brokenness that sin has brought. But knowing what we have learned about the power of guilt, I am inclined to
believe that Jesus knew that in this particular case, the main physical condition was directly related to his
transgression against God. I believe that you can say this without teaching that all such physical maladies are the
result of a particular transgression. Guilt is a terrible destroyer of human happiness and well being!
The understanding of psychiatry has confirmed the Biblical insight about what guilt can do to persons. The only
difference I have with some practitioners is about the cure they offer. In my view they have not taken seriously
enough the word of forgiveness.
This word is needed by every one of us. There is not one of us without sin. Our relationship with God, ourselves,
and our fellowman has been seriously affected. Will you admit the need?
II. THE WORD OF FORGIVENESS SPOKEN
We need to look carefully at what Jesus said to the man. "Friend, your sins are forgiven!'' That Jesus used the
plural "sins", lets us know that it is particular acts of sin that are forgiven it is not just the simple condition into
which he was born. "Are forgiven" is a Greek perfect. This means that they have been forgiven, and that they stand
forgiven. To forgive means to remove, to cancel, and to send away. They have been removed!
The religious leaders who heard this word from Jesus had an immediate reaction. They rightly understood the
implications of this word. They did not express their thoughts out loud, but Jesus was able to read their thoughts.
They were thinking, "Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?" They were
right! Several Old Testament leaders had performed most of the deeds of Jesus, and had acted as He did, but not
one of them ever claimed the authority to dismiss sins, This was new and startling, Unfortunately, they leaped to the
wrong conclusion: They reasoned, "Only God can forgive sin, This man claims the authority to forgive sin, so this
man is guilty of blasphemy," They did not consider the possibility that Jesus might be God, or might have a special
relationship with God.
Jesus accepted the challenge by relating the forgiveness of sin and the healing of the palsy. He asked, "Why are
you thinking these things in your hearts? Which is easier: to say, “Your sins are forgiven.” or to say “Get up and
walk”? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins..." He said to the paralyzed
man, "I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.''
The conclusion is clear. Jesus Christ has the authority to forgive sin, and this is to be seen as a sign of who He is.
He is the earthly manifestation of the eternal God. He can and He does forgive sin.
The word was spoken also as a sign of His compassion upon sinners. Interestingly this poor man did not ask for
forgiveness, but Jesus spoke the word anyway. He desired to remove this terrible burden from the life of the man.
Do you think that you may have committed some sin that God cannot forgive? Many people have this impression. It
overwhelms them or they focus their attention upon what they have done rather than upon the right and willingness
of Jesus Christ to forgive sin. He stands ready to forgive it is already finished.
III. THE WORD OF FORGIVENESS RECEIVED
The religious leaders might have a problem with the word of forgiveness, but the paralyzed man did not have a
problem. It was very good news to him.
Luke indicates that Jesus spoke this word when He saw "their faith." Whose faith did He see? Surely it must have
included the faith of the four, for they had just demonstrated remarkable faith in their deed. But the faith of the
paralyzed man must have been included. It required some faith for the man to consent to the actions of his friends.
So we can expect that the word of forgiveness was received by faith on the part of the crippled man.
But we do not have to wonder about this. He demonstrated faith. When Jesus said to him, "I tell you, get up, take
your mat, and go home," that is what he did. There was something in the way Jesus said it, an authoritative note,
that prompted him to attempt the impossible in response to that word.
The word of forgiveness must always be received by faith. Even this poor man could have refused to believe, and
the word would have been to no avail. He could have refused to receive the offer of forgiveness. Do you believe
that Jesus has the power and the willingness to forgive you? Are you ready to receive the forgiveness? Then use
your faith to ask him for it! To ask is an act of faith. He responds to such faith with full pardon.
The word was also received with joy. Luke reports, "Immediately he stood up in front of them, took what he had
been lying on and went home praising God." The forgiveness brought a renewed sense of the favor and peace of
God. It filled the heart of the man with peace, joy, and praise to God.
I have seen it happen just like this. I have not seen that healing miracles, but I have watched men respond to the
word of forgiveness in faith and have their hearts filled with joy. The defilement and guilt caused by sin would be
removed by Jesus in one beautiful moment. It can happen right here this morning!
What would have to happen for you to experience God's wonderful forgiveness this morning? These are the three
things I have already suggested.
First, you must admit your need. When confronted with his need of forgiveness, the paralyzed man did not protest
his innocence. He was ready to admit, "I have sinned." He did not protest that it was only a mistake. God forgives
sin so the place to begin is to admit that you have sinned.
Second, you must place your trust in the authority and willingness of Jesus Christ to forgive sin. Unless you are
willing to acknowledge that He can and does forgive sin, you will never get rid of your burden.
Third, you must claim your forgiveness by faith. There is no better way to do this than by simply asking for it. A
simple prayer addressed to God through our Lord Jesus Christ will do it.
God will do the rest. He will cleanse the record of heaven and your own defiled conscience. Won't you do it right