Living the Good News in the Gospel of Luke
Study 2

Reaching out to heal
Luke 5:12-26


After calling the first disciples, Luke gives this account of Jesus performing two healing miracles before calling another to be a disciple, Levi (Matthew) the tax collector. In the First Gospel, Matthew has given descriptions of a series of miracles in Matthew 8-9 in order to emphasize that the healing and restoration of Israel is the sign of the coming of the Kingdom of God. Luke spreads the telling of these miracles throughout his Gospel, sometimes including others to emphasize that Jesus has been empowered to offer God’s compassion and healing to people in all different walks of life. Here he shows how Jesus reaches out particularly to those despised and rejected like the man with leprosy and the helpless and seemingly hopeless like the person who was paralyzed.

The usual Greek word in the Gospels for healing is therapeuein, “to serve, care for, restore, heal.” It is from this verb that we get our words, “therapy,” “therapeutic.” Luke uses this word fourteen times. The more common verb used in classical Greek for physical healing is iasthai. Luke, who is called iatros (“physician”) in Colossians 4:14, uses this word more often than the others (Luke—11times; Matthew—4 times; Mark—once) but seems to make no distinction between the two. He sometimes has iasthai when the parallel in Matthew has therapeuein. The reason why therapeuein is usually preferred by the Gospel writers is because it emphasizes not only physical healing but spiritual healing as well. The physical and spiritual are never separated. Luke uses this verb in v.15.
1. You will note that Luke is very sensitive about putting labels on people. Whereas Mathew.8:2 and Mark 1:40 both refer to a “leper,” Luke (v. 12) prefers “a man full of leprosy.” Similarly, Matthew 9:2 and Mark 2:3 both have “paralytic,” whereas Luke 5:18 has “a person who was paralyzed.” Luke wishes to distinguish between the person and the disease. What can we learn from this?

Healing the man with leprosy
Read Luke 5:12-16

2. To understand this person’s plight and the requirements set down in the priestly law for his cleansing, read particularly Leviticus 13:45-46 and 14:4-10. Cf. Numbers 5:2-4; 2 Kings 7:3-9. What impressions do you have?

3. Discuss sickness and disease today. Do we still find attitudes of isolation and rejection? Do we marginalize people?

4. Discuss what reasons would motivate you to reach out to people in situations like this.

5. Look at v. 13. What does Jesus’ action teach us?

6. What healing can we do?
7. What does Jesus teach us about reaching out to others who are sick, lonely, or feel rejected in v. 16?

8. Think of someone you know who is sick or lonely or may feel isolated. Discuss what you can do to bring healing.

Healing the paralyzed man
Read Luke 5:17-26.

9. Verse 17 tells us that “the power of the Lord was with him to heal.” What is meant by this? Look at Luke 4:14,36; 6:19; 8:46; 21:27; 22:69. What about us? Look at Luke 9:1; 24:49.

10. In v. 19, note the eagerness and persistence of the friends of the man with paralysis: they climb on the roof, remove the tiles, let the man in the bed down in front of Jesus. Whose faith leads Jesus to heal the man? See v. 20. What can we draw from this?

11. “Your sins are forgiven.” With these words Jesus is declaring God’s forgiveness by the authority given him by the Father. Why is this connected with healing? Discuss this in connection with Jesus’ quotation of Isaiah 61:1-2 in Luke 4:18 at the beginning of his ministry. Cf. Isaiah 40:1-2; 43:25; 44:22. Restoration and forgiveness are all part of the Good News of the Kingdom of God. What implications does that have for us? See Luke 11:4; 17:3-4; 23:34.

12. The Pharisees say only God can forgive sins, but can we tell someone their sins are forgiven? Cf. Matthew 18:18-20; John 20:22-23. Yet how can our declaration of forgiveness bring healing?

“But that you may know that the Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins….” Jesus calls himself “Son of man” here because it is a collective term for the faithful. Jesus is the true representative of God’s faithful people. He is God’s Righteous One, the Servant, who makes many to be accounted righteous (Isaiah 53:11). He is “Son of man” who represents “the holy ones of the Most High” who “receive the Kingdom” (Daniel 7:13,18,22,27). He represents the members of the Kingdom to whom is given authority on earth to forgive sins. See how this is stated in Matthew 9:6-8.

13. Discuss how God’s forgiveness brings healing into your life, and how you can be God’s instrument in the lives of others.

Remember! Reaching out to the sick, the helpless, the alienated is not a law. Just let the power of the Lord work through you to heal!