By Whose Authority?
By Whose Authority?
The famous teaching of Jesus that “faith can move mountains” has become a cliché, even among those who do not know Him (Mark 11:23). But did you know He also taught that faith can even move someone else’s mountain? It all depends upon who’s asking, and who has authority over the mountain!
“The Authority of Jesus” can be seen as the theme for all of the beginning of Jesus’ ministry in The Gospel of Luke, perhaps typified by the healing of the paralytic in Luke 5:17-26. Let’s look more closely at that section of Scripture. Here’s some background to help with our understanding:
If you were walking down a residential side-street in Jesus’ day, there probably would have been a wall on either side. There would have been doors or gates along the way indicating where each family dwelling was located. If you were arriving at your own modest residence, your door would have opened onto an open-air courtyard – where there might be goats or chickens wondering about, and a cooking-oven of some kind in the middle. Your pueblo-type house would have been in one corner, with a raised porch in front, a wood-tile canopy providing shade over it, and a solid stairway against the side of the house leading up to the roof where grain was typically spread out to be dried (see Joshua 2:1-6).
Now, let’s imagine that you are one of four well-wishers, carrying a paralyzed friend in a stretcher, arriving completely exhausted from the dead weight being hauled and the heat of that typical Middle Eastern afternoon. You arrive there, having heard that Jesus heals people, only to discover that you have a serious problem – there’s no way in! The courtyard is packed like sardines with people, even though you can see Jesus preaching from the raised porch. Do you give up? No. You have faith, and you pray.
I believe the Holy Spirit gave these four true friends the answer: Make your way long the perimeter wall, where it’s easier to push people aside to make way for the stretcher. When you get to the house, go up the stairs to the roof, lean over, and pull up a bunch of porch-ceiling wood-tiles. Then, lower your friend down to the feet of Jesus…
The rest is history. Jesus had authority to forgive and heal, and He proved it. However, we sometimes lose this salient point: Jesus healed in response to the faith of the four friends (see 5:20). In other words, Jesus not only has authority to heal, but also authority to judge the intention and faith of interceding hearts and respond accordingly. Translation: We need to live for Jesus, have faith, and keep our hearts blameless – not only for our own sake, but also for the sake of those we know who might find themselves in a “stretcher”. Then we can leave it to Jesus to “move that mountain”.