Most Christians remember the story of the man whose friends carried him to Jesus. The Savior was teaching in a house, and these men actually removed some of the roof tiles over Jesus so as to be able to lower their friend down before him. They could not get through the crowd, but they found a way to help their buddy.
What we sometimes miss is the logical claim that Jesus makes in this healing. When the man is lowered before him, Jesus first tells him, not that he is healed, but that his sins are forgiven. That, of course, sparks a response. That is what Jesus wanted to do.
Luke 5:21-25 – 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.
The religious leaders, hearing Jesus’ words, accuse him of blasphemy. They see that Jesus has claimed to forgive sins. And they know that only God has the right to forgive a man his sins against God.
Jesus responds to the thoughts of these men with a simple, Hebrew-logical argument. Jesus asks which is more difficult to do. Is it more difficult to claim to forgive or to heal a man we know is really in need? The assumed answer is that it is more difficult to do the healing. Why? The claim to heal can be proved or disproved immediately. But a claim that a man’s sins are forgiven cannot be proved or disproved on earth.
Then Jesus heals the man. With a word, the Savior commands a man who had to be carried to him to get up and carry his own bed home. And the man does. The crowd sees that Jesus has supernatural power. Jesus has the ability to do what only God can do. And Jesus just did so in a verifiable way.
And the point that Jesus was making with his argument is significantly made. If Jesus has the power to do what only God can do with the healing, Jesus also has the power to do what only God can do by forgiving a man of his sins. Jesus did what the teachers would have seen as more difficult in order to prove that he has the ability to do what is eternally more significant. And in doing so, Jesus stakes one more clear claim to deity, because he claims and does what only God can do.