The Compassionate Jesus:
A Leper and a Paralytic
Text: Luke 5:12-32
by Robert J. Young

I. A Leper
Stress on the action and reaction rather than person healed. In all three of the Synoptics, but slightly different settings.
Leprosy described. Covered. Whatever the specifics, Jesus had compassion on this pathetic man. Man who believed in Jesus power.
After healing, do not tell anyone. Theme of lostness/hiddenness. In his charge to the man, Jesus urged him to keep the law, provide proof of healing, becoming clean and enter society again. "Witness" theme perhaps surprises us.
Regardless of charge, news of Jesus spread. Leper apparently disobeyed Jesus. Spread the news. More wanted to hear and be healed. Jesus' response was frequently to withdraw into prayer. Jesus established priorities in his life, and though preaching and healing were of great importance, at times prayer and retirement were even more important.

II. Paralytic
Climax of miracle series, even back to 4:31. Forgiving sins story. Transitions to Sabbath concerns and problems with Jewish law and Jewish understandings.
Power of the Lord was present. What does that mean? Familiar story, know parallels. Jesus speaks forgiveness. Law and religious traditions of Jews now at stake. Continuing focus on Jesus' authority. Jesus' popularity is in view, Jesus' reputation, people from all over.
There was a popular belief that sin caused illness. More prevalent today than we might think. If true, one can never know forgiveness until cured. The cause of the illness here is irrelevant. Perhaps no more than a passing connection. Jesus is saying he came to do more than heal physical ailments. Strange and unexpected response, nevertheless.
Yet, men of faith are willing to at least consider accepting Jesus was a sin-forgiver as well as a healer.
The scribes and Jewish leaders thot Jesus' response blasphemy. Mark has the question, "Why does this man speak in this way?" Luke is focusing, I think, on identity of Jesus. Who is he? Questioners not willing to accept the evidence that gave the answer.
Jesus was knowing their thinking. Speech is cheap, deeds are weighty. If Jesus can do the visible, the presumption is that he can also do the invisible. Not every wonder worker in the first century could forgive sins, and so his words catch attention. The miracle itself demands careful attention to Jesus claim to forgive (John 5:36).
This is first mention of Son of Man. Only reference to Jesus as human? Problem is that Jesus did not always make meaning clear. Perhaps deliberately ambiguous so it has possibilities for multiple lessons. As messianic term, is free of political overtones.
But a singular picture of this son of man emerges in Luke. Authoritative figure with power to forgive sins (5:24), lord of sabbath (6:5), sign to his generation (11:30), seeking and saving lost (19:10), suffering, killed, raised third day (9:22 et al), with followers also suffering (6:22). Eventually to sit at right hand of God (22:69) from whence he will return as judge (9:26; 12:8). While Jesus calls himself son of man, never used of him in gospels by another.

What is effect of all this? Amazed, including critics, awe, remarkable things, and healed man glorified God. With this impressive reaction, this miracles sequence ends.
Who is Jesus? Many answers. Paramount is that he is compassionate. How will we follow him?

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Last updated February 26, 2001.