This past week our children have learned about God’s mighty power and they heard 4 different stories from the Bible that showed them:
God has the power to provide,
God has the power to comfort,
God has the power to heal,
God has the power to forgive,
God has the power to love.
As I thought about those 5 things and those five stories, I wondered if there was one story in the Bible that would show us how God provides all these things, and this is what I found. This is a story of Jesus having the power to provide comfort, healing, forgiveness and love all in one powerful setting and it is found in Luke 5:17-26.
The story begins by telling us that the power of God was with Jesus so all that happens here is because of God’s power. In this one setting we see that God has the power to provide but it’s not just healing, if we look deeper we can see comfort, forgiveness and love.
The comfort Jesus provides is to the friends who have worked hard to bring this paralyzed man to Jesus. They not only carried him from his home and fought the crowds to get to the house, but when they couldn’t get in, they climbed up on the roof and probably with their bare hands start pulling away the dirt, clay, stones and grass in order to make a whole large enough to lower their friend to Jesus. They are so concerned about their friend and so worried that if they can’t get him to Jesus that he might never get better that they go to extraordinary lengths even in the face of opposition.
At least we have to assume there was opposition. The owner of the home must have been beside himself when he saw dirt and debris coming down from the ceiling and when a whole opened up and the people felt dirt falling on their heads they must have started yelling at these men to stop digging, but they didn’t. Their concern and love for their friend pushed them forward and they didn’t stop until the whole was opened large enough for them to lower their friend to Jesus.
Once the man was at Jesus feet, it says Jesus saw their faith. Jesus saw the faith and love and concern of the friends who were now looking down at Jesus with hope in their eyes. With the power of God, Jesus reaches out to heal the man and when he does he provides comfort to his friends. Jesus shows us that God has the power to comfort. And God still does.
God reaches out to comfort us in many ways. Sometimes it is a spirit of peace that washes over us during difficult times. Sometimes the comfort comes from the assurance of God’s word when we read that God will never leave us nor forsake us or when we walk through the valley of the shadow of death – God is still with us. Most of the time, however, the comfort God gives to us comes from the people God places in our lives. Before Jesus comforts these friends, they brought comfort to their friend. What a comfort it must have been for the paralyzed man to know that he had such good friends who would help him. What a comfort it must have been as they picked him up and ran with him to Jesus. What a comfort it must have been when the way seemed blocked that they found a way to get him to Jesus. They gave him comfort before Jesus comforted them, and that is often how God comforts us, through the people God has placed in our lives.
In times of need, concern or stress, friends comfort us through prayers, words of hope and encouragement, acts of kindness and sometimes just their presence. When I was in High School, my grandparents were visiting and one evening my grandfather had a heart attack and the ambulance came and got him and then my parents took my grandmother to the hospital and my sister and I were left in a very quiet house. I’m not sure how they ever found out, but it wasn’t very long before our youth leaders from the church were at our house and they stayed for hours just hanging out with us. Their presence was the power of God to comfort. The Bible says that we comfort others with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)
God has the power to comfort us and when God does comfort us we then have the power to comfort others. Now what comforts these friends is that through Jesus God has the power to heal. Jesus tells the man to get up and walk and he takes up his mat and walks out of the home to the wonder and amazement of the people. Through Jesus, we see that God has the power to heal and God healed many people in the Bible. God healed people from leprosy, blindness, bleeding, fevers and paralysis but through Jesus God didn’t heal every one and the difficult truth we often have to come to terms with today is that while God has the power to heal, healing doesn’t come to everyone.
People still die and children still get sick and struggle with cancer. Diabetes and strokes and diseases like malaria and ebola still claim people’s lives around the world and so while we do believe God has the power to heal, we know that God does not reach out to physically touch and heal every person, but we still need to ask God to reach out and touch and heal every person. When we ask God to heal, we are acknowledging God has the power and God has the desire to bring wholeness and strength to our lives and our turning to God with faith and trust is always a good thing. Asking God to heal honors God and we need to ask in faith and then be content with God’s will – no matter what that might be.
It is important for us to ask God to heal those who are sick and in need. We need to keep praying for people to regain strength and experience the touch and power of God and every time we do pray for healing we are saying to the world that we believe God has the power to heal and God has the desire to heal. I invite you this week to life up those who need to be healed and ask God to heal them.
What is important about this story of Jesus healing the paralyzed man is that before he healed him physically, Jesus healed him spiritually. Jesus looked at the man and first said, Friend, you sins are forgiven. Now this was pretty controversial because only God has the power to forgive and here was Jesus saying that he was forgiving someone their sins so in essence he was saying that he had the power of God or that he was God in the flesh. While many people objected to Jesus saying this and thought he was a fool, the proof that he did have the power of God to forgive sin was that he then healed the man physically. When this man gets up and walks it is not just proof that God has the power to heal but that God has the power to forgive and God still has the power to forgive and God is here today to forgive us.
You may not be here looking for forgiveness or think you need forgiveness, but God is here to forgive. Think about this paralyzed man, he was not there seeking forgiveness – he wanted to walk. His friends didn’t bring him to Jesus because he was a sinner, they brought him because they wanted their friend to be able to walk. No one was thinking about sin and forgiveness, but Jesus was. Jesus was always thinking about forgiveness because he knew that it was forgiveness that brings deeper and longer lasting healing and he knew that it was forgiveness that restores relationships and forgiveness that sets us right with God. What is needed in all our lives is the power of God to forgive.
We all need God’s forgiveness because we have all sinned against God and we have all fallen short of how God wants us to live. We don’t think, say and do all those things that honor God and reflect the love and grace of Jesus Christ, and so we need God’s forgiveness, but we also need the grace of God to help us forgive one another. Relationships are difficult and messy and we hurt and offend others often, at times without even knowing it, and so we need to always be willing to extend grace and mercy to one another. We need to ask for forgiveness and then extend forgiveness to others. We need to ask for grace and then offer grace to others and the more we can do that, the more we honor God and the more we find ourselves healthy and strong in spirit and mind and body. Living in grace and at peace with others makes us physically strong and healthy and so forgiveness is important and we see from Jesus that God has the power to forgive.
Think again about this scene. Jesus is standing there with a paralyzed man on a mat in front of him, commotion all around him and these men poking their heads through a whole in the roof above him and without being asked for anything Jesus extends forgiveness and then healing. Why does Jesus do this? Why does Jesus provide comfort, healing and forgiveness to those in need? It’s not because he has the power to do it, it is because he has the desire to do it. It is because he loves them and through Jesus God has the power to love us forever.
It is the love of God that moves Jesus to provide comfort for the friends and forgiveness and healing to the paralyzed man. It is the love of God that moves Jesus to show the crowds the power of God so that they leave amazed and awed and saying to themselves, we have seen remarkable things today. It is God’s love that provides all this and it is still the power of God’s love for us that provides us with all that we need.
Whatever it is that we need today, God is here to provide. If it is comfort, healing, forgiveness or just the reminder that we are loved, God is here to provide. The one message we try to communicate to the children through VBS is that each and every one of them are loved by God. The one message we try and communicate every week we come together is that each and every one of us is loved by God. We may not feel loved, we may not feel worthy of being loved, we may have never experienced unconditional love, we may struggle with the entire concept of love but none of that can keep God from loving us. And God does love us deeply and it is God’s love that restores hope, saves marriages, strengthens families, brings light to the darkness, direction to the lost and life to the dying.
God has the power to love us forever and we know this because God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son so that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. When the paralyzed man walked away, he walked into the power of a new life and eternal life. That kind of life is available for us today because God has the power to provide.
God Has The Power To…
1. In one story we see that God has the power to comfort, heal, forgive and love. Read this story in Luke 5:17-26
2. What other Bible stories can you name that show God’s power to
3. Where and when have you experienced God’s comfort? How did God comfort you? Who in your life today needs to be comforted? How can you comfort them with the comfort you have received from God. (see 2 Corinthians 1:3-4)
4. How do you need the power of God to heal you? Ask God for that healing touch today. Who else do you know that needs God’s power to heal? Pray for them this week.
When we ask God to heal, we are saying that God has the ____________ to heal and the ___________ to heal.
5. God forgives all. Share with God all the things for which you need to be forgiven and then read Psalm 103:8-14.
The forgiveness of God moves us to seek forgiveness from others. To whom do you need to ask for forgiveness? To whom do you need to offer forgiveness?
6. God’s love is strong, personal and eternal. Recite John 3:16 each day this week.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, so that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.