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Jesus demonstrates his identity and mission

Luke  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Jesus’ demonstration

Jesus demonstrates his identity and authority to deal with our greatest problem
Jesus is willing and able to solve our greatest problem
Jesus can meet our greatest need because of who he is
Jesus’ identity means he is willing and able to meet our greatest need
Jesus deals with a problem bigger even than paralysis: sin
Jesus doesn’t just heal, exorcise and cleanse; he forgives sin
Jesus shows his identity and heart
Jesus doesn’t just heal, exorcise and cleanse; he forgives sin
Jesus demonstrates his identity and mission
Jesus
Jesus begins to reveal his identity and mission
Jesus’ power reveals his identity

Big Application

Recognise who Jesus is: the Son of Man
Marvel at Jesus’ mission: mercy not judgement

Outline

Jesus’ demonstration

[Introduce me]
freeze-frame?
If you’ve just joined us, we’re working through Luke’s biography of Jesus.
Context
Jesus says and does some shocking things. Today we’re looking at a section of his story that’s full of surprises - come with me to and let’s read
0:30 READING

One day,

2:00 Setting the scene: An interesting crowd - Pharisees get a bad rap: ultra-religious super-trained goodie-goodies; way beyond anything encounter today. Working so hard to get it all right, keep every rule. Lots of ‘em. Jesus is making waves. A full house?
3:30 Meet a key character: unnamed paralytic; stretcher + some serious friends: not from round here (in Capernaum cf - sick here healed already) - but there’s a problem: full house.
4:30 Unstoppable friends; familiar with C1 middle eastern housing? flat roof = living space (better weather!); edge walls, lots of uses.
lower through the tiles? WHAM! straight down? (a) loose tiles? (b) ANE flat roof of branches/straw/mud? seriously destructive if so.. or (c) forcing a roof-door (perhaps no external stair; a ladder + door to access)
Whatever, it’s dramatic
Freeze-frame: what happened next

He said...

6:30 Last time Jesus was in Capernaum, ; Last encounter, . This is Jesus’ pattern
v17 power to heal - narrative set-up [old, abandoned house in the middle of a storm; “let’s split up so we can cover more ground”, tense music starts]
7:30 But Jesus has something completely different in mind. Not what they came for! Replay the setting.
Not what they came for!
8:00 “sins” old fashioned word - wrong things we do do, right things we don’t do; big + small; separate us from God

Who can forgive sins?

Response
8:30 Pharisee brains in overdrive: “Who can forgive but God?” Why can only God forgive sins?
[say Caleb steals my car, Ollie forgives him!] Can’t forgive for another
Foolishness/ineffectiveness of forgiving a sin against someone else [say Caleb steals my car, Ollie forgives him!]
9:45 Sin is, in some fundamental way, primarily against God - even though it often affects others [context, David] Violation of his design. So the Pharisees have it bang on: only God can forgive sin.
So only God can forgive sin.
Violation of his design - So only God can forgive sin.
10:45 Do they think Jesus has performed a God-act right in front of them, made a God-claim to be God himself who forgives sins? Their response isn’t really strong enough for this - notice it’s only later 6:11 he makes them furious + they begin to discuss what they can do to Jesus; even then it’s not all sharpened daggers: 7:36 they invite him for dinner! Pharisees don’t have dinner with people who claim to be God.
11:45 So if they don’t think he’s made a God-claim, what are they thinking? Is the blasphemy is him declaring God has done something which, the Pharisees presume, He hasn’t? I think that’s what’s going on - Pharisees: Forgiven? Is that so? How would you know? No sacrifices, none of the usual acts or people you find around God’s forgiveness.
I don’t think so - the blasphemy is him suggesting God’s act could happen outside of God’s system and process
Is the blasphemy is him declaring God has done something which, the Pharisees presume, He hasn’t?
Do they think he’s made a God-claim? No
Or declaring something which they thought God had not done?
I think that’s what’s going on - Pharisees: Forgiven? Is that so? How do you know? Prove it.
The blasphemy they see is presumption - daring to say what God has done without knowing it to be true.
Jesus plans to demonstrate the reality of the invisible, the forgiveness of sins, (which they question) with the reality of something visible
Or see him declaring something which they thought God had not done?
I think the latter - Jesus plans to demonstrate the reality of the invisible (which they question) with the reality of something visible
Jesus: oh yes.

The Son of Man

12:30 Jesus, knowing what they are thinking, explains what his next act is meant to show, explains why he’s going to heal the man: Jesus plans to demonstrate the reality of the invisible, the forgiveness of sins, (which they question) with the reality of something visible: the healing of the man.
He invites us to consider which is easier, forgiving or healing? At least saying the words about them! Well, in one way forgiving seems easier: because physically healing the man right there and then is harder to fake. You see, you can say someone’s sins are forgiven by God - but you can’t really see whether that’s true or not looking at them from the outside. But a paralytic walking, now that’s plain to the eye. So forgiving, or claiming forgiveness at least, is easier to do.
On the other hand, in some ways healing the body is the easier thing; we have wonderful doctors today who can help with many physical problems. It’s not easy - look at how long it takes them to train, how much technology and equipment is required. But it’s easier: how do you really forgive sins? Is it even possible? Some things when they’re broken just can’t ever be mended. Sadly, it’s easy to imagine sins against other humans which simply can’t be undone. Can they really be forgiven, then? Is it even right to forgive sin, no matter how grave? Ultimately, as we’ll see at the cross, it’s going to have a radically bigger cost.
So perhaps, when Jesus says “which is easier”, the real right answer is healing the paralytic.
14:15 But then Jesus goes and takes it up another level when he begins to speak about this “Son of Man”, as he puts it. Notice with me that when Jesus said “your sins are forgiven,” he didn’t necessarily claim to be the one doing it. He could just be announcing a truth that’s happened. Like saying “your car has been towed away” or “Your overdraft has been paid off.” But here he says this Son of Man guy, he has authority to forgive sins - to do the action himself, not just announce someone else has done it. That’s massive.
“Son of Man” will become Jesus’ primary way of describing himself going forwards. It’s called out with capital letters in our Bibles - it’s a significant title - but the capital letters wouldn’t have been there as Jesus spoke! Or even in the minds of his hearers, most likely.
“Son of Man” will become Jesus’ primary way of describing himself going forwards. Called out with capital letters in our Bibles but they wouldn’t have been there as Jesus spoke! Or even in the minds of his hearers, most likely.
15:00 Resonance for them? No evidence in historical documents that it was a known term at the time. No-one out looking for a Son of Man. It just wasn’t a thing. One mention in which we connect it to now, helps us understand what Jesus was getting at, which might have occurred to them if they were feeling particularly sharp in that moment of shock. But the primary sense of the term is just “human” - a son of a human is also a human. Probably the just heard it as an odd title - one that Jesus would begin to fill in over the next days of his ministry.
15:45 So Jesus says “I want you to know that the son of man” - that is, in their ears, the human - “the son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins”, something that only God can do. He’s saying the human can do something only God can do. Weird. And then he goes and heals the man. Is he saying he is that human? Or just that there is such a human? It’s not totally obvious from his words, I think. It certainly wasn’t totally obvious to the people who heard him there - or there would have been more of a response, more of a rucus.
To us, it can seem plain, that it leaves no room to argue over who Jesus is. But we have to remember how far outside the Pharisees’ box this all was. What happened in Jesus was completely inconceivable to them. The idea that God could become human: preposterous; impossible!
16:40 He’ll go on to take the title “Son of Man” clearly for himself (e.g. ), so careful observers, following him, would have been able to make the connection, recognise what he had said about the extent of his power and authority back here. But I don’t think they connected it all right here - notice everyone gives praise to God at the close of the scene v26 - no exceptions, so that’s even these Pharisees. There’s no mention of this Son of Man - all the praise is for God. They recognise they’ve seen something remarkable - but they haven’t really gotten their heads around what it was - yet.

We have seen remarkable things today

Goes the whole nine yards:
Jesus explains his actions
He is the Son of Man. He has authority on earth to forgive sins.

Results

17:15 They haven’t gotten their heads around it but we can see pretty clearly that:
(a) The Pharisees are right that only God can forgive sins - since they’re primarily against Him
Got what they came for - but also so much more
(b) Jesus forgives sins then and there, and he proves it by healing this man - that means he must be God
positive reception - v26 everyone; remarkable things not blasphemous things
(c) But at the same time he takes a name for himself which particularly labels him as human
significance not yet clear
Jesus is the one God-man, the one who can walk the earth and forgive sin.
This is the amazing reality that he pictured for us last week by cleansing the unclean, by restoring the separated.
This is what it’s all been pointing to: Jesus himself is the one who can restore us humans, separated by our sin, to the relationship with God that we were made for. Jesus opens the way back to God.
And he does it by coming to us, becoming one of us - human, as he emphasises here - rather than by demanding we make our way back to him.
He can remove the barrier between God and man, end And more amazing than that is what’s to come:
(d) Jesus’ pointthat’s because he’s both God and human - it’s the only resolution available to us.

So what?

But now, from our He is the Son of Man. He has authority on earth to forgive sins.

So what?

18:15 First, do we get this is real? If you’d call yourself a Christian here today, you are in the amazing position of having had your sins forgiven by Jesus, by God, through the cross.
But we so often forget, or fail to grasp, that this is just as real as standing up and walking home with our mat. We can nod and say, yep, my sins are forgiven - but do we really get that? I want to give us some tests, some indicators, we can use to assess ourselves - to see if we have really got this; or whether, in fact, we think it’s just words, not real, like this paralytic walking again.
Distance: Adam hiding; Peter’s “go away”
The first way we can feel
- distance: Adam hiding
Desperation: trying to earn our way back
- departing: Peter “go away”
- trying to earn our way back
Second, do we get this is serious? The guys bringing their friend on a mat weren’t bringing him to Jesus so he could have his sins forgiven. They wanted him to walk again. There’s no sign they really thought of his sin as a problem at all. But it is a huge problem - the biggest problem of all in the end. It was great that they loved him, that they cared for him. It’s our friends’ biggest problem - do you really care?
- Christians, what do your friends really need? what will really fix it?
- what do you think their biggest problem is? How is it going to get fixed?
- Sin is their biggest problem - not even paralysis trumps this
- and only Jesus can fix this problem - no point in taking them anywhere else
- Christians, How are you working to bring them to that?
- Christians, How are you working to bring them to that?
- what does carrying them to Jesus look like? what does breaking through the roof look like?
But in the end it’s all useless without a Jesus to bring them to
LAND THE PLANE
Because we all need to come to Jesus. This time he’s come with mercy. Next time he’ll come with jdugement.
Our biggest problem
-
We are sinners
- it’s our most critical problem (cf paralytic)
Jesus has power over sin
Jesus can only forgive sin by substitution; justice demands he doesn’t just forget it [not in this passage]
We are sinners- it’s our most critical problem
it’s everyone’s problem
Miracles are signs rather than the thing signified
It’s our most critical problem
Jesus comes with mercy not judgement (this time)
We are forgiven
But we so often forget, or fail to grasp this is just as real as standing up and walking home with our mat
- distance: Adam hiding
- departing: Peter “go away”
- trying to earn our way back
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