I’m convinced that the mothers of boys view the world and read the Bible through a unique lens. For example, boy-mums recognize that two miracles took place on the grassy hillside where Jesus fed the five thousand. Of course, everyone is aware of the transformation of five loaves and two fish from Not-Enough to a Super Abundance, but it takes a trained eye to spot the secondary miracle of a hungry boy handing over his lunch in the first place.
That’s why I’m grateful for next week’s backyard opportunity to be teaching a group of kids the Luke 5 story of Jesus healing a paralyzed man. Without a single thing in the text to support my theory, I stubbornly cling to the idea that it was four brothers on the business ends of that stretcher, carrying a family friend who had been tragically paralyzed.
Jesus was inside the house, surrounded by so many listeners and critics that every door and every window was blocked. When “excuse me” and “pardon me” failed to clear the way to Jesus, things looked pretty hopeless. They were stuck outside, completely blocked off from healing and hope for their paralyzed friend, and if it were not for some creative problem solving, that would have been the end of a sad story, lost to history and never recovered.
To what lengths does a friend go to help a friend?
When horizontal measures were just not doing the job, this foursome thought vertically. Palestinian households utilized their rooftops as an extra room, so an external stairway and some teamwork facilitated the hoisting of their stretcher-bound friend to the tiled roof. Then, without so much as a conference or a committee meeting, the digging and dismantling began.
Tile fragments and falling dust would have alerted the non-omniscient occupants of the packed house that something strange was going on over their heads, but no one was prepared for the response of the only omniscient fellow in the room. As the four warriors lowered their friend’s bed into the room, Jesus said, “Man, your sins are forgiven you.”
Did the four stretcher bearers roll their eyes?
Did the most outspoken open his mouth to clarify the “real need” as he saw it?
“Um, Jesus… Well, we sort of had something else in mind.”
Scripture tells us Jesus’s words gave the Pharisees what they came for that day: evidence to initiate a blasphemy charge. For those who came with open hearts, however, it profoundly established Jesus’s identity as God the Son. And since restoring life to paralyzed limbs is a mere carnival stunt compared to forgiving sin, Jesus went on to heal the man, lifting in a flash his burden of helplessness and hopelessness.
High fives all around, and I’m sure the crowd parted for the guys this time as the newly-healed man obediently picked up his bed and went home, followed by his four satisfied advocates.
How far would you go to help a friend?
How much would you risk to bring a friend to Jesus?
Are you willing to make a scene?
Break social norms?
Break a sweat?
When God witnessed the helpless condition of humanity, he put a plan in place that cost him everything. There was no horizontal way out of our fallenness, so he thought vertically. Down he came, wearing a body that could bleed and die, because that was the only way to make things right again.
God’s great rescue plan set the stage for Paul, chief of the apostles and “chief of sinners,” to observe that “he who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:32) Having gone to such lengths already, what would God NOT do to win your heart?
Therefore, may I ask gently, having sat on the receiving end of such grace, having taken the “all things” of rescue and salvation from the God of the universe, how could we not also freely give?
Grateful for God’s great rescue plan,
Just a Note…
My ministry focus next week will be right here in Mid-Coast Maine, so things will be quiet at Living Our Days. I’ll be working with the teens from my church who attended Christian Youth in Action, the training event I assisted with back in June. Together, we will be putting their experience to work in a welcoming backyard in Rockland, Maine. I’m looking forward to a front row seat to witness God at work in their lives as they teach and in the hearts of the children who will be attending. Lord willing, I’ll be posting updates to the Living Our Days Facebook page, so hope to see you there!
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