A Matter of Semantics

In Lent 24 by Bruce Logue1 Comment

“Just then some men came, carrying a paralyzed man on a bed. They were trying to bring him in and lay him before Jesus, but finding no way to bring him in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down with his bed through the times into the middle of the crowd in front of Jesus.”

Luke 5:18-18.

There are several movies that all explore some single event, seen through the eyes of various observers. It makes for interesting rumination to think about how different our ways of seeing can be. The healing of the paralyzed man in Luke 5 is a case in point.

On one occasion Jesus was in one of the houses in a village near Lake Galilee. Crowds of people were streaming in, hoping to be able to hear his teaching or maybe to be fortunate enough to be healed by Jesus. They were coming from as far away as Jerusalem, 121 miles to the south. Much like the way that people from all over the world go to Lourdes, France for the same reason.

Not everyone was a believer, however. A group of legal experts and Pharisees sat nearby to critique the goings on. They saw this crowded house and desperate crowd, as people who played fast and loose with the Mosaical Law which the Pharisees were there to protect.

A second group was, of course, the crowds of people. They trusted what they saw and experienced. Hearing Jesus speak, they knew that what he was saying was extraordinary, unlike anything they had heard. Seeing him heal their relatives, friends, and neighbors, they knew he was true. Still, I think they were more like California “lookie Lou’s” passing a wreck on the side of the 99 or I-5. Believing it happened but only casually involved.

The third group carried a paralyzed friend to the flat roof of the house where Jesus was. These were determined people, committed to getting their friend into Jesus’ presence. They cut a hole into the roof and lowered the friend down into the room. How do you ignore that? What is striking is how far they were willing to go because they were absolutely convinced of Jesus’ truth and power.

True to their critical spirit, the Pharisees and legal experts didn’t like the words Jesus spoke. When Jesus saw the faith of the men bringing their paralyzed friend, he said to the paralyzed man “Your sins are forgiven you.” Seems like an odd thing to say to a man in such physical crisis, but who cares in such a situation? Jesus was a healer, the son of God, and he can say whatever he wants to say.

In what might have been a patronizing voice, Jesus tells the critics that it’s just as easy to say “you’re forgiven” as opposed to “stand up and walk,” so, “get up and walk.” Same result in either case. Jesus knew that every ill in the Creation stems from the same beginning – sin. The legal experts were concerned about the syntax Jesus was using. Jesus was concerned about the defeat of sin and death.

Something to think about: Where do you think you might have been outside that house in Galilee – with the Pharisees, the crowds, or the friends cutting a hole in the roof?

Something to pray about: Jesus, we are thankful for people who put their lives on the line for you. People who get to the heart of the matter and cut the hole in the roof. So we ask you to help us have more faith – faith that is willing to take risks and follow you. Like the friends. In Jesus’ name. Amen.


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