Is Social Justice the Gospel?


There are two separate subjects I want to address in this text. The first dealing with Social Justice and the Gospel, and the second dealing with healing itself.

Luke 5:16-26
On one of those days, as he was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there, who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was with him to heal. 18 And behold, some men were bringing on a bed a man who was paralyzed, and they were seeking to bring him in and lay him before Jesus, 19 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 midst before Jesus. 20 And when he saw their faith, he said, “Man, your sins are forgiven you.” 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. 26 And amazement seized them all, and they glorified God and were filled with awe, saying, “We have seen extraordinary things today.”

The Gospel Followed by Social Justice, not the Other Way Around:
We see in this text that the Pharisees came out from every town in the area and were sitting listening to Jesus. There where some men bringing a man that was paralyzed and were hoping Jesus could heal him. The place was so packed out that these guys couldn’t get through the crowd. So they did what any desperate person would do, they ripped open the roof and drop their friend down through the top right in front of Jesus feet.

The amazing part is that the text says ‘when Jesus saw their faith He said “Your sins are forgiven.”‘ Wait a minute! Didn’t these guys just rip a roof off so that Jesus could heal their friend? Was Jesus just calling this guy a SINNER? He sure was. Only sinners can have their sins forgiven. Paralyzed people are sinners, slaves are sinners, orphans are sinners, widows are sinners, we are all sinners from the greatest to the least.

In our SOCIAL GOSPEL culture we hear this this type of talk all the time, “You don’t meet the spiritual needs until the physical needs have been met” but let’s look at what Jesus does again, He meets the most serious of issues first, the issue of SIN. If Jesus doesn’t place physical needs over spiritual needs then why have we done that? We have Social Justice teams all over the world spending huge amounts of dollars and effort to relieve people from their physical suffering and if possible they will deal with their spiritual needs of the Gospel. In no way am I saying that we shouldn’t relieve people of their suffering, of course we should and if we don’t then we lack the love of the genuine Gospel.

The gospel in large has taken a backseat to meeting people’s physical needs in the name of social justice, and that should never be the case. I actually heard one large Christian organization that rescues children once say “We don’t share the Gospel with the kids we rescue right away, because we don’t want them to think that’s the only reason we rescued them.” Is the Gospel not the reason we rescue the orphans, the abused, the widows, the slaves? If it’s not all because of Jesus then what’s it for our ego? Should we save them from a few years of agony here only to have an eternity of agony in Hell? Placing Social Justice in front of the gospel our motive becomes pity rather than true compassion, and true compassion deals with the issue of the heart first then goes for taking care of the physical needs.

Your sins are forgiven what more do you want?
Jesus came into this world for one thing and one thing alone, and that was to seek and save that which was lost. He did come to put on amazing demonstrations of His power, not so heal our sickness, not to raise the dead, but to save lost sinners. So many church people today have these passages so misunderstood, they use them as leverage for holding healing crusades, or to say that if you have enough faith it is always God’s will to heal you. Is it? That is not what this passage is leaning on, healing was a tool used by Jesus to prove that He had the authority to save sinners. There is always a purpose to healing, as there is always a purpose when someone does not get healed.

The Pharisees in this text get outraged in their heads when Jesus says to this paralyzed man “Your sins are forgiven” I mean can’t only God forgive sin? And they were right, only God can forgive sin, and they were looking at Him. Jesus then reveals their thoughts in front of everyone and says

“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.”

So Jesus says, do you think it’s easier for someone to SAY “your sins are forgiven” or for them to say ” Rise and walk” and I think that’s a pretty obvious answer it’s way easier to say that someones sins are forgiven because off the cuff there’s no real way to prove it! I could walk around all day and say that “Your sins are forgiven” and that would be easy, but if I went to the hospital and said to crippled people “Rise and Walk” everyone would know if seconds if I was a phony because the guy would either get up and walk or he would lie there still paralyzed. The idea was that Jesus was being tested by these guys, they were challenging Jesus to prove it. And Jesus accepts the challenge and say’s to them “But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.”
Jesus did not heal people because He thinks it’s best for all people to be healed, this man was healed as a sign that Jesus  Himself had the power to forgive sin. Healing is always for the purpose of bringing glory to God, not man.

Final Note:
The most important miracle in this life, is the miracle of New Birth, the forgiveness of sins, the regeneration of a corrupt soul, and the sanctification of the mind, will and emotions through the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen

Shane Martin