Tuesday, 8 October 2013

The Verse - Luke 5:17-26

17 On one of those days, as he was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there, who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was with him to heal. 18 And behold, some men were bringing on a bed a man who was paralyzed, and they were seeking to bring him in and lay him before Jesus, 19 but finding no way to bring him in, because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down with his bed through the tiles into the midst before Jesus. 20 And when he saw their faith, he said, “Man, your sins are forgiven you.” 21 And the scribes and the Pharisees began to question, saying, “Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” 22 When Jesus perceived their thoughts, he answered them, “Why do you question in your hearts? 23 Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? 24 But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the man who was paralyzed—“I say to you, rise, pick up your bed and go home.” 25 And immediately he rose up before them and picked up what he had been lying on and went home, glorifying God. 26 And amazement seized them all, and they glorified God and were filled with awe, saying, “We have seen extraordinary things today.”

(Luke 5:17-26 ESV)

Luke and I were reading this passage in our daily devotion the other day. Luke was reading out of the C.S. Lewis bible, which has little excerpts from C.S. Lewis's writings; he read out one of these excerpts, and what it said really made me think, "huh, I've never thought of that." So I thought I might share it with you so you can think, "huh, I've never thought of that either."

C.S. Lewis, in his wonderful work Mere Christianity (if you haven't read it you really must) writes concerning the passage above: 

"We can all understand how a man forgives offences against himself. You tread on my toes and I forgive you, you steal my money and I forgive you. But what should we make of a man, himself unrobbed and untrodden on, who announced that he forgave you for treading on other men’s toes and stealing other men’s money? Asinine fatuity is the kindest description we should give of his conduct. Yet this is what Jesus did. He told people that their sins were forgiven, and never waited to consult  all the other people whom their sins had undoubtedly injured. He unhesitatingly behaved as if He was the party chiefly concerned, the person chiefly offended in all offences. This makes sense only if He really was the God whose laws are broken and whose love is wounded in every sin. In the mouth of any speaker who is not God, these words would imply what I can only regard as a silliness and conceit unrivalled by any other character in history.

"Yet (and this is the strange, significant thing) even His enemies, when they read the Gospels, do not usually get the impression of silliness and conceit. Still less do unprejudiced readers. Christ says that He is ‘humble and meek’ and we believe Him; not noticing that, if He were merely a man, humility and meekness are the very last characteristics we could attribute to some of His sayings."

It's very true, isn't it? The only way Christ could have the authority to forgive everyone for the offences they had committed against other people is if He is God Himself, and if all human beings are primarily wronging Him when they commit sin, because they are breaking His laws. Also, it's interesting that not even non-Christians consider Jesus to be proud or conceited, despite the fact that He made claims which could only be regarded as incredible and megalomaniacal, if He were not who He said He was - the claim to be God, for instance. The reason we believe Jesus when He says He is humble is that He is telling the truth. He is indeed God Himself, exalted above any other name in the universe, and yet He became a lowly human being in order to save us from our sin by dying on the cross. This is the true meaning of humility.

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