For the first time in his Gospel record, Luke mentions the Pharisees (Luke 5:17), and he places them with the doctors of the Law, called scribes in Mark 2:6 and Matthew 9:3. The interesting thing in Luke is that they are come from all over the land of the Jews, Galilee, Judea and even Jerusalem. Jesus’ public ministry was begun only a week or two prior to the incident in Luke 5:17, so his fame couldn’t have already spread to Judea. Therefore, an explanation is needed to account for such a large and varied representation of Jewish authorities in Galilee, and the annul Jewish Festivals provide a logical reason for their presence. The fact that a few days later the disciples of Jesus were in the ripe grain fields in Luke 6:1 indicates that the time of Luke 5 is during the fall festivals.
An interesting point concerning Luke’s record concerns how Luke 5:17 should be read. The KJV and some older translations have it: “the power of the Lord was present to heal them.” More modern translations go with older manuscripts, dating before that which the KJV is based. Many modern scholars conclude they are better, and the translators of them render it: “the power of the Lord was with him to heal” or something similar. The latter implies that the power of the Lord (read Father or God) was not always with Jesus. However, if God’s Spirit (which includes his power) was always with Jesus, and if Jesus was always filled with the Spirit (Luke 4:1, 14; John 3:34), this implies the power to heal was always present with Jesus to use at his discretion. An argument might be raised that Jesus didn’t always have power to do miracles (Mark 6:5), but this is a poor understanding of the word of God. Actually, neither Jesus nor the Father can act out of character (Titus 1:2). There is no unrighteousness in them, and they won’t support unrighteous behavior in men. Therefore, no mighty work could be done, due to unbelief (cf. Matthew 13:58), which neither Jesus nor the Father would endorse or cultivate with a mighty work.
If this makes sense, then the oldest manuscripts cannot be founded upon the truth, at least not at this point (Luke 5:17). If the KJV is correct, then we must ask who the them are that the text claims the power of God was present to heal. Mark 2:12 provides us with a clue. The scribes were speaking among themselves, saying Jesus was speaking blasphemies (Mark 2:6-7). It was obvious to Jesus what they were doing, so he directed his question toward them (Mark 2:8-9), and then commanded the man to rise up on his feet and take his bed home. The astonishment that followed caused the scribes to say: “we never saw it in this fashion” (Mark 2:12), referring to their own doctrine.
The doctors of the law or the scribes (rabbis) believed that a person’s physical deficiency was a matter of sin (cf. John 9:34), and Jesus’ disciples bought into their doctrine (John 9:2). While Jesus may have agreed that in some cases this was true (John 5:14), he certainly did not agree it was true in every case (John 9:3). Therefore, when Jesus forgave the man his sins, he proved his case it by causing him to walk and carry away his bed. The on looking doctors of the Law were astonished, because they had never before seen their teaching used in this fashion (cf. Mark 2:12).
The power of God was present to heal them – the leaders of the Jews. Had they responded favorably, who knows what course the ministry of Jesus might have taken. But, they didn’t respond in faith. Rather than admit error on their part or put their trust in Jesus as their Messiah, they concluded they “never saw it in this fashion” (Mark 2:12), or “we have seen strange things (paradoxes) today” (Luke 5:26). They were comfortable with their own reasoning, but uncomfortable with how Jesus made it look. They may have hoped to find a place for Jesus in their doctrine, but the thought of setting aside their understanding in order to embrace Jesus and his doctrine was unthinkable. Anyone who looks to Jesus as Lord must be ready to leave all to become his disciple (Luke 5:11, 28). Everything that made the scribes and Pharisees who they were was wrapped up in what they understood about the Law. They were unwilling to leave that for Jesus.