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This morning, I was reading from the gospel of Luke, chapter 5, verses 17-26. Back in February, I read a comparable passage in Mark, and wrote a post about it. But as is so often the case, whenever I go back to read the Bible, I find it meets me (or should I say He – the Holy Spirit – meets me) exactly where I am, and speaks to my present circumstances, right at my point of need.
So, here’s the passage that I read, taken from the New International Version.
17 One day Jesus was teaching, and Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there. They had come from every village of Galilee and from Judea and Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was with Jesus to heal the sick. 18 Some men came carrying a paralyzed man on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus. 19 When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus. 20 When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.” 21 The Pharisees and the teachers of the law began thinking to themselves, “Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” 22 Jesus knew what they were thinking and asked, “Why are you thinking these things in your hearts?23 Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’?24 But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the paralyzed man, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.”25 Immediately he stood up in front of them, took what he had been lying on and went home praising God. 26 Everyone was amazed and gave praise to God. They were filled with awe and said, “We have seen remarkable things today.”
Jesus, who was teaching in the northern section of Israel, which was a lot like teaching in the Boonies, (well….minus the ticks and chiggers and poison ivy) was being examined by religious authorities who weren’t just the local boys. In attendance were the religious experts from the spiritual center of Israel, Jerusalem. Holy Town, and Capital City. The Big Dogs had shown up in the Boonies, just to check him out. Get it?
“The power of the Lord was with Jesus to heal people”. I honestly don’t know what this means. When was it not? Maybe someone smarter than me can explain that one.
Some very loving and determined friends who were not willing to take no for an answer, had carried their paralyzed friend to see Jesus. When they couldn’t get inside the SRO crowd, they climbed to the rooftop of the house, carrying that friend who was lying paralyzed on the mat, moved the ceiling tiles, and lowered their friend through the roof into the house, in front of Jesus.
I am picturing a bit of “derring do/get ‘er done” attitude on the part of the friends. Maybe like my husband and his buddy when they handled our snake situation: whatever it takes! And maybe just a bit of physical comedy. After all, exactly how bumpy was that poor guy’s ride? Was he scared he’d fall off the mat as they climbed to the rooftop? How did his friends know which tiles they needed to remove in order to lower their friend’s bed exactly in front of Jesus?
This picture makes no sense, except that it was as close as I could come to a busted roof.
And what about the guy on the bed: was he scared as he was being lowered down? Was he amused? Thrilled? Excited?
And then, there were the people below: was plaster and/or dirt falling on their heads? Did daylight suddenly flood the room? What would the uproar have been like if suddenly the filled to capacity room had to have people squishing back even more to make room for a bed???
I see the hidden purpose of Jesus in his very carefully chosen words to the man: “Friend, your sins are forgiven”. He knew that saying the man’s sins were forgiven would cause a disturbance. He knew there would be nothing but objections in the minds of those Big Dog Religious Authorities who were gathered there. What He chose to say was so far from being politically correct (especially in front of the religious bigshots of His day) that it was considered by them to be heretical.
But truth it was.
And “It ain’t braggin’ if it’s the truth.”
Simple, astonishing, breath stealing truth.
Jesus had the power to forgive sins.
Jesus HAS the power to forgive sins.
And that is a truth that has such far reaching implications that it has changed civilization itself.
The healing for that one man was completely life changing, for him. But the healing of the relationship between God and all mankind was a change of the order of the entire world.
And Jesus revealed that simple truth, right there, in a little Galilean village, in a home with a busted roof.
What does that mean to you and me?
Jesus has the authority and the power to forgive MY sins, and your sins, too. All of them. Even the darkest ones that you’ve never confessed publicly. The ones that cause you to tremble at the thought of what might happen if other people knew. Even the ones we’ve committed after encountering Him and becoming God’s child. The ones we committed last night, or this morning.
And personally, I think Jesus has a soft spot for friends who love so well that they will move the roof tiles on behalf of another friend. Because He loves that friend just as much, and more than they do.
Are you wracked with guilt over stumbling yet again in an area that you know to be sin?
Receive forgiveness, the forgiveness that Jesus brought about when he brought a change to the whole world order, making reconciliation possible between God and man.
Do you have a friend who needs divine healing?
Don’t give up: persist in taking that friend and his or her needs to Jesus.
He cares about your friend’s deepest needs, even more than you do.