July 30, 2011

The Little Engine of Faith That Could

"And getting into a boat he crossed over and came to his own city. And behold, some people brought to him a paralytic, lying on a bed. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven." And behold, some of the scribes said to themselves, "This man is blaspheming." But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, "Why do you think evil in your hearts? For which is easier, to say, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Rise and walk'? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins"—he then said to the paralytic—"Rise, pick up your bed and go home." And he rose and went home. When the crowds saw it, they were afraid, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to men." Matthew 9:1-8

"It can't be done!"

Ever hear this before? At work? At home?

"Trust me, I'm an expert, it can't be done!"

It's a defeatist attitude AND a complete lack of faith.

What compelled these men to carry this paralytic to Jesus? Compelled...they came together lugging this poor invalid. Compelled...they were sure Jesus could heal this man. Their faith compelled them. The power of Christ compelled them. Having reached the home they realized the entrance is blocked, yet they are further compelled. So what do they do? Wait their turn? Turn around and carry the invalid back home? No way!

When you hit what seems like an impenetrable obstacle moments from your destination do you?:

(a) Stand outside the door and whine?
(b) Throw your arms up in the air and complain?
(c) Stare at the sky and murmur under your breath?
(d) Stand around looking stupid with a vapid look on your face?
(e) Complete the journey through all means and tools available to you?

These men along with the paralytic pursue Plan "E" which consisted of climbing up on the house and ventilating the roof. Please understand I am scripting this for dramatic effect...

[Man #1]: "Dude, the door is blocked! Some hypocritical Pharisee is in the way!"
[Man #2]: "Aww man! All I see is the back of people's fat heads. All this way just to stare at some dude's bald spot"
[Man #3]: "Anybody seen my sandal? My strap came loose carrying him up here and now I can't find it."
[Man #4]: "Hey, why don't we climb on the roof and poke a hole in it, then drop him down right in front of Jesus?"
[Paralytic]: "Poke a hole in whaaa... and drop me where?!?! Dude? What if you drop me?"
[Man #1, 2 & 3]: "Right! Great idea! Yes yes! Brilliant! Brilliant! Then we can all go out for wine and biscuits."

[-Sound of hammering, snapping and a muffled conversation...then light breaks through the ceiling]

[All including paralytic in a unified accord]: "Excuse us, look out below, pardon us, paralyzed man coming down, please step back so no one gets hurt!"

...and then this paralytic just about lands on Jesus' lap.

"Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven." says Jesus with a radiant amiable look on His face.

So what are some of the things we learn here? Do we learn that paralytics are way too trusting of their friends? Do we learn that a paralytics friends are impatient and somewhat impulsive? Perhaps. One of the things we learn is that at some point they began to say to themselves at least mentally, "I believe He can". More than likely we see that a fellowship of believers can often get things done that are difficult or impossible for individual believers. More than likely Jesus had a real good sense of humor and so did the owners of the home that now had a skylight in their roof (literally). The power of Christ and His attraction to the faithful is undeniable.

Inspired by a mixture of Spirit, tenacity, ingenuity, skill and dogged will, men can surmount what seems to impossible odds when given the will and desire to pursue Jesus Christ. The power of the Spirit will not be denied. As believers, the power of Christ compels us to levels of holiness and righteousness we didn't know we were capable of. With Christ working in our lives we overcome all earthly obstacles, even suffering and death.

Jesus tells the man, "Rise, pick up your bed and go home."

What one faithful man was unable to accomplish alone, was made easy by many faithful men working in unity. A unity forged as all involved believed the same thing. A single purpose, a single goal. Jesus can heal and remove man's sins. Not only did they bear witness to it but so did the entire crowd...all of the bystanders. They were awed by His power.

"It can be done?"

Yes it can

"If you can!" said Jesus. "Everything is possible for him who believes." Mark 9:23

In the end Jesus heals this paralytic. Not only is it the power of God that heals this man but also to work of the Spirit that drives both he and his friends to the extreme that they go to to get to Jesus. It is as if the are being inexorably dragged to Jesus even if it means going through a wall, or in this case a roof. The men's faith goes beyond that of just healing, the paralytic's sins are forgiven here too which is even more important than the healing. What we really begin to see in this episode is the Kingdom starts to break through into time and space and it is solicited by faith.What a glorious thing this is to behold. Have you seen this in your life? I believe I may have a few times and it moves heaven and earth when I see it. It is often fleeting and does not linger long because it persists only as long as the faith of the observer stays intact.

What is sure at this point in the story of the paralytic is something incredibly special happened as they all marvelled and feared as this passage is closed out. We see a glimpse of what it will be like when Jesus comes back to reign in power and glory. I believe I have witnessed this on a few occasions in my life also. A fleeting but glorious and beautiful image or outcropping of the Kingdom. The Kingdom of a transcendent God...Jesus Christ.


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