Taking your faith through the roof – Monday, 2nd Week of Advent/Isaiah35:1-10/Luke 5:17-26
Jesus Christ, Superstar!
By the fifth chapter of the Gospel, Jesus is clearly a superstar. The Pharisees and the teachers of the law have come from every village of Galilee and Judea and Jerusalem. He is the emerging national icon of religious life and the go to man for healing and preaching. This was the first mega-church long before others ‘invented it.’
As petty as a Pharisee (a newly coined simile)
Yet even the Messiah is not immunized from human pettiness. The religious leaders have come to him perhaps hoping for an ally to boost their religious world and yet the miracle eludes them simply because they choose to trip over the technicalities of his words rather than be blessed with his heart.
Stop at nothing, just get to Jesus.
Jesus has just called his disciples (5:1) and cleansed a leper (5:13). Now, a faith filled bunch of men came with a paralyzed man. Luke’s Gospel does not mention how many they were but does indicate that they were faith filled; actually, Jesus acknowledges their faith (5:20). These super achievers can’t take no for an answer. Imagine shoving your way through a crowd with a paralyzed man only to find no way in. ‘Plan A’ had to be improvised, and some one’s roof just got ripped off. This is the go-getting faith we are called to have. Stop at nothing, just get to Jesus.
He sees, He deals, He heals.
Hard work coupled with faith, is rewarded. There are no words exchanged between Jesus and the men, who by now, must have been peering down from the roof. Jesus does not need prodding or direction; he sees the actions of the friends; he deals with the spiritual need of the penitent and he heals the paralytic. Amazingly, this is intercession on its feet. The men intercede and that teaches us the power of intercession, even for someone who may not believe in Jesus or thinks he can’t work a miracle for them.
Two legs to walk into hell?
Interestingly, at first, Jesus does not give the paralytic a healed body. Jesus knew what the man’s real need was, and what his greatest need was. His sins had to first be forgiven. What good was it if the man had two whole legs, and walked right into hell with them? We can imagine how the friends on the roof felt. They went to a lot of trouble to see their friend healed of his paralysis, and now the teacher seemed to only be concerned with his spiritual problems. Jesus first addressed the man’s greatest need, and the common root of all pain and suffering; man’s sinful condition. Then to make a point he healed his body too.
No applause, just discord.
There should have been a round of applause, the Pharisees should have been on their feet. Yet, rather than see the miracle, they question the words he has spoken, “your sins are forgiven.” For them this was blasphemy. To understand what is happening in this gospel scene, we have to realise the perceived close relationship in those days between sin and sickness. Sickness, especially something chronic like paralysis or blindness, was often presumed to be the result of or punishment for sin. For the Pharisees, forgiveness of sins was God’s business not that of an itinerant new rabbi on the block.
The heart of the matter is the matter of the heart
It’s interesting that Jesus does not read into their words but rather examines their heart. The heart of the matter is the matter of the heart. If your heart is rotten your thoughts are rotten. Jesus is no fence sitter or people pleaser. He tackles their hearts, “why do you raise such questions in your heart?” The simplicity of faith is often shrouded in the complexities of doctrine and Jesus debunks their doctrinal approach for a very practical spiritual solution.So, which one do you prefer to hear? Your sins are forgiven or pick up your mat and walk. The Lord who permits you to take your mat and walk is the one who has forgiven you. Can you allow yourself to accept such a simply religious thought?
There is wonderful healing power in the word of Jesus, in the promises of Jesus, for those who come to Him in faith. We do not know about the faith of the paralytic but we certainly know about the faith of his friends. This could be your prayer today in the season of Advent, “Help me to do all I can to bring people to meet you and know your healing forgiveness in their lives. But let me do it sensitively!”
Be an evangelist; please share these articles with your friends and family. Do also leave your comments below in the box.
Fr Warner D’Souza