Vugt: The paralytic saved

THE Gospel of Luke (Lk 5: 17-26) says: One day Jesus was teaching, and many Pharisees and teachers of the Law had come from every part of Galilee and Judea, and even from Jerusalem. They were sitting there, while the power of the Lord was at work to heal the sick. Then some men brought a paralyzed man who lay on his mat. They tried to enter the house to place him before Jesus, but they could not find a way through the crowd. So they went up on the roof, and removing the tiles, they lowered him on his mat into the middle of the crowd, in front of Jesus.

When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the man, “My friend, your sins are forgiven.” At once the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees began to wonder, “This man insults God! Who can forgive sins, but God alone?”
But Jesus knew their thoughts and asked them, “Why are you reacting like this? Which is easier to say: “Your sins are forgiven or “get up and walk? Now you shall know that the Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” And Jesus said to the paralyzed man, “Get up, take your mat and go home.” At once the man stood before them. He took up the mat he had been lying on, and went home praising God.

Amazement seized the people and they praised God. They were filled with a holy fear, and said, “”What wonderful things we have seen today!”

On a personal note, the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law were not against Jesus yet, but being but being men who had received much religious formation, they were the first to wonder about Jesus’ religious claims, was he only a faithful believer respectful of God’s law or was he promoting a new sect? Jesus took advantage of their presence to show that he was not simply a disciple of Moses and the prophets, but the master of them all.

We easily understand why the teachers of the Law were scandalized. How could this man without studies or title, stand up to them as if he were a teacher? They were looking for a coming of a God who would confirm their teaching and acknowledge their merits. Jesus however, was in the midst of common folk and did not pay attention to authority of the masters of the law who looked down on them. Since the teachers of the Law could not believe, their only recourse was to oppose Jesus.

The events related in this chapter show how Jesus situates himself in society and with what people he relates: with a small group of fishermen who will be in charge of his new movement, with lepers and sick people who seek him. He calls people who, like Levi belong to a despised group.

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