Saturday, January 18, 2014

Healing the Paralytic: the Big Picture

They were all struck with astonishment and began glorifying God; and they were filled with fear, saying, "We have seen remarkable things today." (Luke 5:26 NASB)

We have looked at the individual parts of this story but today we are going to look at the big picture. 

Here's how it went. (The Leanna version)

Jesus was just about worn out from the crowds. He loved the crowds. In fact, they were the very people for whom He had come, but He could not get a minute's rest while they were crowded around. It wasn't so much the rest He was missing. He just needed quiet time with His Father. He needed to hear clear direction and that was impossible with the noise of the crowd, so He took a break. 

No one but Jesus thought taking a break just as His fame was spreading made sense, but He knew it did. He went to the wilderness for a prayer retreat, and when He returned, He felt as fresh as a daisy. He knew exactly what to do next, and He headed to Capernaum, where an exciting ministry opportunity awaited. 

That particular day, He stood up to teach and looked around the room. Not every one had come to learn more about God that day. There were skeptics, critics, disciples, and seekers in the room. Most people were seated on the ground, but there were a few people who were in the best seats. He recognized them immediately because of the clothes they were wearing. They were some scribes and Pharisees who had gotten together in a group to investigate the rumors about this new teacher. Some people said He was the Messiah but a lot of what they had heard just sounded like heresy. It was a good day for those skeptics to come, because the power of God in Him was so strong that day, and Jesus had all the power He needed to perform healing. 

There were four men who were bringing a paralyzed man to Jesus on a stretcher. The doorway was so crowded that they couldn't get in, so went through the door from the roof. Those men were determined to get the sick man to Jesus because they knew what Jesus could do for him. The man on the stretcher wasn't so sure, but when they grabbed up his bed and hauled him out of his house, it seemed he didn't have much choice. He probably figured it might not help, but it couldn't hurt to see Jesus. 

It was a surprise to everyone when Jesus looked down at the man brought for healing and forgave his sins. I don't know, but the paralyzed man might have thought, "I'm not worried about sin today. Fix my paralyzed leg and arm!" He certainly didn't say that aloud. The scribes and Pharisees were thinking a lot worse. They were looking around and thinking, "Who does He think He is with this heresy? He's going to get us all struck by lightening!"  Their minds were whirling with questions and opinions. They got haughty and self righteous (and very critical) as quick as a flash, but Jesus saw right through them. 

While they were whispering among themselves, He asked them whether it was easier to say sins were forgiven or to say get up and walk. Everyone got very quiet. They could tell something was about to happen. Jesus looked down at the man on the stretcher and said, "Get your bed, head out of here, and continue on the journey of life God has given you." He didn't waste a minute. When he didn't believe, the faith of those very wonderful four men had been enough to get him to Jesus and to the healing only He could give. He would never get over what those five men (the four friends and the God-man Jesus) had done for him that day. 

What happened next was just as surprising. Everyone in the room was "seized with amazement" and started praising God. What's really so wonderful is that the man was permanently changed by his healing, and all the people in the room were permanently "seized" by amazement because of seeing the healing. We are supposed to be permanently changed by seeing the might hand of God at work, and even the scribes and Pharisees were changed that day. 

This is a wonderful example of Christ at work in the lives of those around Him, but don't lose sight of the fact that the same Jesus is at with in our lives and those we love as well. Pray today that He will move in the lives and hearts of those we love to bring the kind of permanent change to them (and to us) that only He can give.