Fanny Crosby, the blind hymn writer, left a gift to the church through her more than 9,000 hymns. One of the common themes in her poetry is the tender love of the Savior—experienced when a sinner turns to Him for forgiveness—which results in heartfelt praise and glory to God. For example, hymns like “He Hideth My Soul.”
A wonderful Savior is Jesus my Lord, a wonderful Savior to me;
He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock, where rivers of pleasure I see.
He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock that shadows a dry, thirsty land;
He hideth my life in the depths of His love, and covers me there with His hand, and covers me there with His hand.
A wonderful Savior is Jesus my Lord, He taketh my burden away;
He holdeth me up and I shall not be moved, He giveth me strength as my day.
Or, my personal favorite, “Blessed Assurance.”
Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine! O what a foretaste of glory divine! Heir of salvation, purchase of God, born of his Spirit, washed in his blood.
When a sinner comes to Jesus in repentance and faith he or she finds a tender, forgiving Savior. This experience of the healing of the soul and freedom from God’s judgment results in humility and gratitude to God. It marks the beginning of a new life—a life of obedience to Christ and of praise to God for His redeeming love. Take a moment to read Luke 5:17-26 and reflect upon the tenderness of the Savior toward a needy sinner and the resulting glory that is given to God.
The Ultimate Healing
In the Scripture passage you just read, Luke describes the experience of a paralyzed man who is brought to Jesus with the help of his friends. In Jesus, this man not only receives healing from his physical disability, but—more importantly—he receives healing for his spiritual disability…his ultimate need. Physical healing would indeed have provided him with relief—relief from some of his suffering on earth. But he needed something more. He needed spiritual healing that would provide him with relief from the guilt of sin and deliver him from suffering in the eternal hell. This is what he found in the tender Savior. In Jesus, this man received a full pardon from God, which resulted in glorifying God. Here we see a dramatic demonstration of Jesus’ power to heal and His authority to forgive.
Luke sets the stage for this dramatic healing of both body and soul. A confrontation between Jesus and the religious leaders is about to occur. Pharisees and teachers of the law have come from every village…as far as Jerusalem (120 miles). Why did they travel so far? The fame of Jesus had spread far and wide. They felt threatened by Him and His powerful teaching, which drew great crowds. They had heard of His miracles. Perhaps they came with some curiosity, but more likely it was because they intended to discredit and even destroy Him. Why? Because “the power of the Lord was present for Him.” Jesus possessed something that they could only dream of having—the power of God upon their life and ministry. Such is the resentment of the religious person who is not born again.
However, in contrast to the Pharisees, there were faithful men—the friends of the paralytic. Luke calls them “some men,” but Mark tells us there were four. These persistent friends were determined to bring their friend to Jesus. They knew it was their time to act–there time to intercede for him—to bring him to the tender Savior. Phillip Ryken writes, “There is a time for waiting to see if God will open a door, but there is also a time to get inside, even if it means going through the roof to get there.” What an example of personal evangelism we see here! To what extent are we willing to go to bring other people to Jesus?
Jesus first declares the man forgiven—before healing him—because forgiveness is the greatest, universal need of man. Yes, this disabled man surely longed to be healed. But Jesus knew his greatest need was to have his sins forgiven. Jesus calls him “Friend,” a tender expression of kindness foreshadowing the reality that Jesus would later refer to all of His disciples as His friends. “You are My friends if you do what I command you. ‘No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you’” (John 15:14-15).
The Stark Contrast
How very different these faithful men were than the scribes and the Pharisees who were chiefly faultfinding critics! The scribes, the “teachers of the Law,” were professional scholars. They had spiritual knowledge, but no heart for God. These zealous leaders knew the Scriptures, but did not know the God of the Scriptures. Many times their theology was accurate, but it was only in their heads. Truth stopped in their minds—to be analyzed and critiqued, but not to be submitted to and obeyed by the will. They were hypocrites.
Instead of humbly acknowledging their own need of the Savior they “began to reason.” Matthew tells us that their reasoning was not verbalized. They were saying these things to themselves…in their thoughts. But Jesus knew their thoughts, which was another proof of His deity. “Why are you reasoning in your hearts?” He asked. Aware of their reasoning, Jesus answered their accusations by affirming His authority to forgive sin, which was another declaration of His deity. The scribes and Pharisees knew this. Therefore, they reasoned in their hearts that Jesus was guilty of blaspheming God.
Their Old Testament worship manual, the book of Psalms, made it clear that only God can fully forgive the guilt of our sin. “If You, LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But there is forgiveness with You, that You may be feared” (Ps 130:3-4). If God is only the God of justice then none of us could ever stand in His presence. But He is also the God of forgiveness. “But there is forgiveness with You.” The Pharisees missed this truth–the truth that is the joyful shout of every true Christian.
The reason God can forgive sin is because He alone has provided the satisfaction of His righteousness through the punishment of our guilt. This He did in the sacrifice of His Son on the cross. Forgiveness is received only through repentant faith in Jesus Christ. “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us” (Eph 1:7-8). “For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Col 1:13-14).
Immediately the healed paralytic, who was also now a forgiven sinner, gave glory to God. But he was not the only one to give God glory. Luke tells us that “they were all struck with astonishment and began glorifying God; and they were filled with fear, saying, ‘We have seen remarkable things today.’” All, that is, except the faultfinding critics.
Which one are you? Are you the forgiven sinner who has great reason to glorify God? Or are you the religious, faultfinding critic who appears to be holy on the outside, but lacks the genuine life of God within your soul? Come to Jesus today. He is the tender Savior. Repent and believe and He will receive you. Come to Jesus and be forgiven. Come to Jesus and live.