Jesus stepped into a boat, crossed over and came to his own town. Some men brought to him a paralyzed man, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the man, “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.”
At this, some of the teachers of the law said to themselves, “This fellow is blaspheming!”
Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said, “Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts? Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the paralyzed man, “Get up, take your mat and go home.” Then the man got up and went home. When the crowd saw this, they were filled with awe; and they praised God, who had given such authority to man.
One quick note, I chose to use the NIV this morning because The Message was not discernibly different except that it created some confusion with the context, making the story too different from Mark 2 (the other place we read this story).
Another passage filled with loads of theological stuff. It’s dense. It’s also one of my favorite stories in the Gospels.
This morning I am struck by the communal aspect of what is happening here. We begin by seeing a group of friends bring their paralytic friend to Jesus, we end by seeing the broader community celebrating. In the middle we see the religious leaders upset.
My attention this morning is drawn to the friends who bring the paralytic to Jesus. They don’t know what is going to happen. Will Jesus heal? Will Jesus not heal? We learn from Mark 2 that they get the man to Jesus by digging a hole in the roof of the house, would Jesus be mad at the destruction of property? All these guys wanted was for their friend to be healed and walk again. Why? Probably so he could do life with them.
I think this is the thing that we so often miss when we read the Bible. These stories were about real people who had real lives and were living in real community. Could you imagine the overwhelming joy these men must have felt when their friend rose up and walked out of that house? They could finally do life fully together. He could be with them without barrier.
Isn’t that the beauty of the gospel? The reconciliation of all things! Jesus authority to forgive sin was so amazing because it brought about reconciliation in real and embodied ways. It was not just a theological idea of words. No, it translated into real life.
And, all of it done in the context of community. From start to finish.
I think sometimes we overlook the value of having people around us who will carry us. Sometimes we just can’t get to where we need to be on our own. It turns out we need one another.