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TEXT: Luke 5:16-26

SUBJECT: Luke #14: The Power to Forgive Sins

What do you think of a man who picks a fight?  I don't mean one who fights when he has to.  David said, "I am for peace, but when I speak, they are for war".  No, I mean someone who starts a fight on purpose or goes out of his way to make other people mad.  What do you think of that kind of man?

I don't think much of him.  It seems to me that starting fights is a proud thing to do; it means you're impatient and very much lacking in love and common sense.  That's what I think of a man who picks a fight.

Are you with me on this one?  If you are.you're wrong.  That is exactly what the Lord Jesus Christ is doing in our story.  He is picking a fight--going out of His way to antagonize the people around Him.  He touches the rawest nerve in Judaism.  Every Bible-believing Jew at the time must have winced at what He said-and what He meant by it. 

The Scribes and Pharisees, of course, were looking for something to accuse Him of.  And He handed it to them on a silver platter!

I wonder what the disciples thought?  Were they like the President's PR men?  When the boss says something wrong, they explain it away.  If left to themselves, what kind of spin would they have put on the Lord's words?  We have no idea, because they were not  left to themselves.  In years to come, they would confirm what the Lord had said-and say it themselves, at the risk of ridicule, persecution, and death.

Why did the Lord pick a fight that day?  Why did He offend the scribes and Pharisees so needlessly?  The answer is: It wasn't needlessly.  What the Lord has to say here is so important, that He is willing to make people mad about it.  He's willing to suffer for it-and to make the disciples blush every shade of red.

What's He getting at here?  What's He saying that is so offensive?  Let's look at the story and see.

THE STORY

The narrative is short and to the point.  You needn't look for a hidden meaning in it.  Because the meaning is right on the surface.

It takes place somewhere in Galilee-but Luke doesn't say where or give any specific date.  The Lord is teaching the Word of God in someone's house.  It's packed with people anxious to hear Him-and more than that-eager to be healed.  Some of the hearers are scribes and Pharisees-conservative teachers of the Law and their students.

There's a man in town who is paralyzed.  He has four dear friends who'd love to see him cured.  They believe that Christ can do it.  So, they put their friend on a stretcher and carry him over to the house.

But there's a problem: they can't get through.  Hundreds of people are there-and nobody's willing to move.  The men are unhappy, of course, but they haven't given up.  There must be some way to get their friend to Christ.

One of them hits on a plan: Think vertical!  If they can't bring him in horizontally, drop him down from above.  They climb to the roof, tear off some tiles, and let the man down by four ropes, tied to the corners of his bed.

The Lord looks at the men-and admires their pluck!  It's a born of faith in Christ and love for their sick friend.  If they have to embarrass themselves to get their friend to the Lord, that's fine with them.  This is not about human dignity; it's about Divine Grace.

The Lord turns to the sick man-and being perfectly aware of who's around Him-He says to the paralytic, "Man, your sins are forgiven you".

He didn't pull the man aside to say it; He didn't whisper it in his ear; He didn't say it in Latin!  He said it in public for everyone to hear!

Everyone is shocked, of course.  No God-fearing man had ever said such a thing.  But the scribes and Pharisees are more than shocked; they're also offended.

They begin to think "Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?"

The Lord knows what they're thinking-and calls them on it, "Which is easier to say, `Your sins are forgiven you', or to say, `Rise up and walk'"

The implied answer is: They're equally easy.  One's no harder than the other.  But if this is true, then why did He choose the offensive words instead of the polite ones?  Why didn't He just tell the man to walk?

We don't have to guess.  He tells us why, "But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins."

To prove He's no blasphemer, He tells the forgiven man to get up and walk out.  Which he did, for all to see.

The people are amazed and gripped by a godly fear.  Understating the case terribly, they said, "We have seen strange things today".

THE MESSAGE

They sure did!  That day they saw a Man-a real man, an ordinary man, even-forgive sins against God.  Let's be clear about this: He was not announcing God had forgiven the man's sin.  He was forgiving sins Himself.  And not just sins against Him, but sins against God; in other words, every sin the man ever committed were forgiven that day.  By Jesus Christ.

Liberal Christians believe in Jesus.  They say He was great man, the greatest man, even.   But if that's all He was, the scribes and Pharisees were right about Him! "Who is this who speaks blasphemies?

How dare a mere man-even the greatest man-presume to forgive sins against God!

The Jehovah's Witnesses improve somewhat on the Liberals.  They, too, deny His divinity, but say He was more than a Man; that Jesus was the First of God's Creation-first in time, first in importance!

But if they're right, then I say He was the worst of God's creatures, for-He took upon Himself prerogatives that no one has a right to--but God! "Who can forgive sins but God alone?"

Jesus Christ had the right to forgive this man for one reason only: He is God.

Let's not mince words here: I'm not saying He is like God or that God was with Him in a special way or that He did God's work as no one else did.  All of these things are true, as far as they go-but they don't go far enough!

Jesus Christ is fully God and no less Divine than His Father or the Holy Spirit.  What they are, He is.  What they do, He does.  The rights they have, He has, too--including the right to forgive sinners!

For 2,000 years heretics have tried to explain the verses away.  They have chopped them up with logic, turned them into allegories, denied their authenticity, and read their own prejudices back into them. But when the believer reads them, his heart burns within him.

"I and My Father are one". "Your throne, O God, is forever and ever a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom". "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. And the Word was made flesh, And dwelt among us."

When it comes to doctrine, Christians are often stupid beyond belief!  I don't mean the ones who don't know their doctrine-but those who do.   They are engrossed by the smallest detail of prophecy, maybe, or some minor ethical question like home schooling.

But the devil knows what is important.  That's why, from the days of the New Testament until now, he has done everything with his power to undercut the doctrine of Christ.  Some said He is God, but not Man; others said He is Man, but not God; others said He's sort of half and half!   Satan is behind all these heresies.

Do you know why?  Because if he takes our Christ away from us, we've got nothing left!  We have no forgiveness of sin and no hope for heaven.

If Jesus Christ is anything less than God, then "Let us eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die".

If your Savior is not Divine, you have no Savior!

If Jesus Christ is God, He must be worshipped as God.

For the moment, I'll say nothing about the content or worship, but focus on its spirit or attitude.  What words describe worship in the Bible?  Joyful, loving?  Yes.  But that's not the issue today-everyone is for that.  But there's another set of words that are not so often used in worship: reverence, fear, humility, a sense of unworthiness.

When we come to worship the Lord Jesus Christ, we are approaching God-the Living and True God, the God from "Whose face the heavens and earth flee".

Do we worship Him with reverence?  Are we awestruck at the Divine Presence?  If we did more than pay lip service to His deity, we would.

If Jesus Christ is Divine, He must be obeyed.

You've heard it said, "If obedience were optional, God would have given the Ten Suggestions".  But, of course, He didn't.  He gave Israel Ten Commandments, orders that He expected them to obey.

The Law of Christ is even more demanding.  Whereas the former touched mostly on the act, the latter gets to the heart.  The Sermon on the Mount is not there to be admired or preached or put in a museum.  It's there to be obeyed.  The same is true of the commands of Christ given through the Apostles.

The Lord does not kind of hope you'll love your wife or obey your husband or honor your parents, He commands you to!  If He's a mere teacher, then sift through His words and take what's good in them.  But if He's God, submit to them.

More to the point, if Jesus Christ is Divine, He can forgive your sins-and will!

We often think of God as quite a bit like ourselves.  If you did me wrong in some small way, I'd overlook it-nobody's perfect!  If you did something worse, I'd probably forgive you-if you never did it again.  Or, if it was something really bad, I might forgive you, but things would never be the same between us.

If you've ever felt this way, you're not alone-Peter felt the same way.  He guessed that forgiving a man seven times was just about the limit of human mercy-and maybe God's mercy too.  But, oh was he wrong!  The Lord said, "Not seven times, but seventy times seven".

To forgive an offender "Seventy times seven" is just another way of saying, "Being like Christ".    This is what the Lord does-only way more!

Jesus Christ is willing to forgive your sins-whatever you've done, no matter how many times you've done it.  You cannot name one penitent  person who came to Christ for forgiveness and went off without it.  Not the publican; not the prostitute; not the demoniac; not even the Pharisee!  Everyone who came to Him for forgiveness, got it.

"Man, your sins are forgiven you".

Did you come to church today feeling guilty?  Maybe it was a big sin-something you'd be ashamed of if anyone knew about it.  Or, maybe it's not one thing, but a million things-petty things, bad attitudes, lack of prayer, messing up with your kids, and so on.

If so, Christ offers you forgiveness.

"If we confess our sins, He is faithful to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness".

Why don't you confess your sins to the Lord?  And ask Him for mercy.  Again?

If you asked me to forgive you, I might be too cranky to grant it.  Or, even if I wanted to, I couldn't forgive you for what you've done to God.  But Christ is not too cranky and He can forgive your every sin.

Because He is God.

"The Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins".

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