God In Action – The Paralysed Man

Robin WilliamsonPosted on Monday, August 17th, 2015 by Robin Williamson

Readings

Luke 15:17-26

Introduction

There were crowds of people stuffed in a small house: it was fairly dim – with only a doorway and small window – and was stuffy; people outside looking in had fresh air, but I wanted to be able to hear the new teacher, Jesus. I had heard that he would be teaching here, so had arrived early, and so had others from all over the country – it was a squash! I noticed that there were some church officials in their long robes, Pharisees and Scribes already there. (Pharisees were members of a religious party who believed you had to behave in a certain way in worship, and worried a lot about little details; Scribes were professional lawyers and teachers who were often Pharisee as well.) I had heard that both Pharisees and Scribes made life difficult for the new teacher, and wondered if they were present to check up on him.

Anyway Jesus had been teaching for a while, and he was so easy interesting to listen to using examples from everyday life to help illustrate his points, I hadn’t got bored. All of a sudden there was a clatter on the flat roof above us, a cloud of dust, and a hole appeared; the bright sun shone through and then we saw faces, and before you knew it a mat on ropes was lowered down with a man strapped to it, it landed right in front of Jesus!

A hush fell over the room as we waited to see what would happen next. I had heard that Jesus healed people – indeed an uncle of a friend of mine who had previously had a horrible skin disease had been cured by Jesus, and he’d come back to live with his family, whereas previously he’d had to live outside the village in a small community with others who had the same illness.

The man was still on his mat – and we heard Jesus say, “Friend, your sins are forgiven”

A gasp of surprise went round the room, as we’d been taught that God alone could forgive sins…

Although no one said anything, Jesus seemed to know peoples’ thoughts and added, “So that you may know that the Son of Man has authority to forgive sins… I say to you, ‘Get up, take your mat and go home!’’. Well, everyone in the room erupted in praise to God.

That could have been the observations of someone in the room that day – but what about us – what thoughts do we have on hearing that story? Mine were:

  • Luke 5:17 says that the power of the Lord was present for Jesus to heal the sick in that stuffy little house with a flat roof (probably made of mud and twigs and with an outside staircase). Elsewhere (in Matthew 13:38) we read that Jesus was unable to perform many miracles in his hometown because of the unbelief of the people there. The four men who brought their friend had faith that Jesus could heal him, and they did not give up – although there were crowds of people blocking the doorway they solved the problem another way. Jesus forgave and healed, but he also needed the four men to play their part. Jesus, through the Holy Spirit, can bring healing and forgiveness today; but He invites us to be his hands and feet – he doesn’t often work in isolation. Am I, and you, doing our parts – do we sometimes give up too easily?
  • Jesus knew that some present in the room were complaining (verse 22 of Tom Wright’s version of our reading has Jesus asking, “Why are you complaining in your hearts?”). What is our attitude like? Do we come to church complaining and moaning? (I have, sometimes, over the years!). Jesus often won’t work, by His Holy Spirit, if our attitude to God and one another is wrong.
  • Jesus was in the middle of a teaching session and was interrupted! What are you and I like if we are interrupted? Would we have said to the man, “I know you’ve just arrived through the roof, but I’m busy teaching, I can’t speak or minister to you now”?
  • Jesus forgave the man all his past wrongs. Jesus may have recognised that his particular illness was caused by sin and that the man needed to hear that he was forgiven before he could be healed but we must never think that illness is only due to sin. John 9:23 relates a situation when Jesus was asked by the disciples who had sinned to cause a man to be born blind, Jesus made very clear that neither his parents nor he had sinned. Do we carry around guilt because we’ve done something wrong in the past, or perhaps something was done to us in the past that wounded us, and from time to time we are haunted by it? As Jesus rescued the fellow from his guilt, so I believe He can forgive and heal us completely.

Lastly; we are not told whether the healed man offered to repair the hole in the roof; insurance wasn’t around in Jesus’ day, so if he had left it to the insurance assessors compensation would have taken about 1900 years to be paid!

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