Several years ago, I read through the New Testament and highlighted every passage that encouraged prayer. The passage we will examine today is one of the best lessons on prayer.
A Picture of Intercessory Prayer
When you intercede for someone you (1) plead on an other’s behalf, (2) act as a mediator between two parties, and (3) intervene for someone.
A great picture of intercession for someone took place when four men carried their friend to Jesus. Luke relates their actions like this:
— Luke 5.17-19 – One day, while he was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting near by (they had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem); and the power of the Lord was with him to heal.
Just then some men came, carrying a paralyzed man on a bed. They were trying to bring him in and lay him before Jesus;
But finding no way to bring him in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down with his bed through the tiles into the middle of the crowd in front of Jesus.
There are two things to be learned about praying for others by these men.
(1) Intercessory prayer is using words to bring someone to Jesus. We intervene for someone and plead with God for their sake.
(2) O. Hallesby’s book, “On Prayer,” has been very influential in my life. Hallesby underlines the fact that the men knew their job was to get the man before Jesus. They trusted Jesus to do the rest.
Even though we intervene and plead to God for someone in intercessory prayer, we don’t have to tell God how to fix their problem. All we have to do is imitate these men and get the person before the Lord.
Not what we expected.
Jesus’ reaction to the men’s intercession surprised everyone. The men who carried the paralytic to Jesus, weren’t expecting Jesus’ response.
— Luke 5.20 – When he saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven you.”
Hallesby points out that God knows what is needed, even if we don’t. The friends thought that the paralytic needed physical healing. Jesus knew the man had a deeper problem with sin.
Before Jesus could heal his body, he first had to release the man from the tyranny of sin.
Francis McNutt is a Catholic priest who has a healing ministry. In McNutt’s many years of experience he notes that it is easier to heal physical illness than broken relationships.
Most people welcome physical healing, but not all people are willing to forgive, let go of resentments, and reconcile with others.
Whatever was the man’s spiritual sickness, Jesus first addressed it before the physical.
Another note about intercessory prayer is the issue of faith. Their faith was not some kind of profound feeling that they worked up through mental gymnastics. Their faith was demonstrated by simply bringing the man to Jesus.
We show our faith when we bring any issue or person into the presence of Jesus through prayer.
Not only were the intercessors surprised by Jesus’ response, but so were the religious authorities.
— Luke 5.21 – Then the scribes and the Pharisees began to question, “Who is this who is speaking blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?”
In today’s YouTube video, Rudy Ross explains how the forgiveness of sins took place in the first century.
Not only did Jesus side-step the prescribed means for forgiveness, he appeared to be speaking for God.
This was highly offensive to the religious authorities.
Who is in control here?
The issue of authority is the question, “Who is in control here?” The religious authorities thought that Jesus had no right to be in control of the “forgiveness of sins business.”
Jesus applied Spirit-inspired logic to the question.
— Luke 5.22-24 – When Jesus perceived their questionings, he answered them, “Why do you raise such questions in your hearts?
Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Stand up and walk’?
But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins” — he said to the one who was paralyzed — “I say to you, stand up and take your bed and go to your home.”
Anyone can say the words, “You are forgiven,” whether they have a right to say them or not. Only someone with the power of God can command a paralytic to walk.
Jesus demonstrated the authority of the King of God’s kingdom.
The governments of this world are dominated by power structures and rules. Often, paralytics are left behind in the earthly kingdom as people with little or no value.
In God’s kingdom the prophecy of Isaiah 61 is true.
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free.” (Luke 4.18)
Paralytics are released from bondage to sin and the oppression of an infirmity.
Intercessors are invited to participate with God in his kingdom activity. As we align ourselves with God’s purposes and follow the direction of the Holy Spirit, we can bring people to Jesus for the forgiveness of sins and healing.
Rudy Ross and I discuss this episode from Jesus’ life on YouTube. It can be found on the Bob Spradling YouTube channel.
Please email your prayer request to firstname.lastname@example.org or private message me on Facebook. The Maywood prayer team will pray for you.