The Paralytic Man
Encounters with Jesus series (#1)
A friend of his who is a prayer warrior named Harriet contracted COVID and passed away. Her ongoing wish was that Rod would get a haircut and in her honor, he did!
Help us be like Harriet in that we bring others life through you. As I open your word and see your beauty, thank you for the gift of Jesus. As we see in these chapters, help us be open to beauty, dig deep, and to look closely. Speak to us, silence the voices and spirits that would disrupt us. Help us hear You and only you.
We are going to spend time looking at some stories about Jesus: I hope you are excited. The more I look at the life of Jesus, it’s so powerful. I hope you can enjoy this and learn new things about Jesus as we go. Our view will be challenged and we will be invited to reconsider our assumptions about Jesus. Let these embed in us and shape us this year. May we be immersed in the story of Jesus, Emmanuel.
I love stories which may make me like you! I never read how-to books; I think they are boring. I never read non-fiction: I get it but what really shapes me is fiction. My high school English teacher: “If you want to read truth, read fiction. If you want to read lies, read nonfiction.: In fiction we are revealed through story. The stories of Jesus aren’t fiction yet reveal the truth about him.
Today this story will challenge us in N. America in personal faith, the role of community, and our ideas of how we come to faith.
Jesus is at home, in the place he chooses to call home. He is tempted by Satan in the wilderness for 40 days with only his Father to fight for him. There was no community. After this, he left Nazareth (family) and made his home in Capernaum. This was not a desire to see the world but it was predicted in Isaiah 9. He was probably with Peter and his family. When the Bible talks about households, it means your in-laws and cousins and friends and slaves/servants and visitors: this home of Peter (likely) is where many Jesus’s early followers lived: Peter Andrew James and John were fisherman in this seaside town. Matthew was the tax-collector. Jesus began his ministry here and began to work miracles here:
He attracts a crowd; he calls people to come and follow him including the disciples. He’s interesting He’s unique, different .
He preaches the Word in someone’s house. He doesn’t usually think of him as a preacher but the one we preach about. Yet he was preaching the Word, the history, God’s calling of his people, Israel. He’s opening the scrolls to the people.
He recognizes the people’s faith. He saw the one who wants to be in Jesus’ presence but his friends as well. He is aware of his faith.
He reads people’s hearts: he knows what they are thinking. How can he be human and do this, does this make him human? Are there things in his humanity where his “fully Goodness” shines through? Maybe he just looked at the people and knew what they were thinking; we do this too. But he’s always right. He knows people’s hearts!
He forgives the sinner. He doesn’t represent a God taking vengeance: he simply forgives
He completely heals. He heals mind, body, soul, spirit: everything about him.
The sequence of this is huge: he sees the paralytic lying on a mat and says “your sins are forgiven. “At the moment, the man is completely healed. If nothing else ever happened to the man, he is still fully healed. This is hard to comprehend. We think of the temporary nature of disease. I have a bad knee and it’s healed. This is temporary. This moment when Jesus is completely healed and then he goes and heals him physically brings him to the longing that he has to walk.
Some of us have difficulty with miracles. We are living on a large blue rock spinning around a huge fireball. And there is a lifeless rock spinning around us which makes the water flow around us. Open our eyes! We LIVE IN A MIRACLE!~ The fact we can look at specks of sand while being specks of sand ourselves is a miracle. The ONE who created us: this is a miracle. Are you missing the memo on how miraculous this all is! Reflect on this this year. Think about it a lot!
Miracles are uncommon occurrences that cannot be explained by natural laws or science. They are signs, pointers that give a direction to look. God gives us these so we’ll turn our eyes to Him. Rod has experienced personal miracles: he can almost always find an alternative explanation because he is always looking for proof that the miracle is real rather than look at Jesus.
Early on we were sitting at the Seneca House and I had gotten bad news that x-rays showed bone on bone in my knee. I was in pain at this point; even climbing stairs was painful. I came asking for healing and prayer. He didn’t want to have surgery. Keith went to the kitchen for the olive oil to pray over Rod and said there was no olive oil but had Pam spray instead. We all laughed and then Russ said we should pray. They sprayed Pam on my leg, we laughed and prayed. I got up and that night I walked upstairs to my apartment and later my doctor said this was weird because I seemed to be doing fine. He had ordered medications that I hadn’t even picked up. It was a miracle! But I’m sure you could find alternate explanations. Satan always makes sure we have these. The point was not that Rod’s knee was fixed: The point was look to Jesus. Look to the God of the universe, the Messiah.
The song “Grandma Got Run Over by A Reindeer.” Me and Grandpa, we believe because there are footprints on her forehead. There’s always an explanation.
God’s mighty works and his wonders were to point to the Messiah, the establishment of the kingdom of God with his people: Jesus, Emmanuel. There were miracles that only the Messiah could do. Yes, there was extraordinary provision in the OT (common miracles?…oxymoron). The prophets said that the Messiah would do certain things:
Cleansing Lepers. These were not permitted inside society. You were separated. Even if someone is touched, they too become unclean. The Messiah would make people clean and touch the untouchables. When he touched them, the leper became clean.
Commanding Demons to Leave. This was an important element for the Messiah to do. These demons torment people and defeat the demonic one and give them freedom. He healed the demonic attachment. There was a battle: this belongs to me and the Messiah says, No this is mine.
Giving Sight to the Blind. The blind were considered deserving of their blindness. If they weren’t, their parents had sinned. “Who sinned? This man or his parents?” They were beggars and social misfits as they suffered these consequences. Receiving sight would change all this: restoring sight would restore status. Rod has been partially blind from birth and this is a powerful story for him.
Causing the Lame to Walk. These were unworthy of service to God. The crippled lamb in the OT was a lousy sacrifice: 0nly the perfect lamb was acceptable. He restored their humanity and ability to serve God! What a gift
Forgiving Sins. This is the ultimate: Only God could do this. The Messiah would be the personification of God. The sins would STAY forgiven and make the sinner WHOLE before God. Jesus looks at the one lowered to him and he sees his condition. He tells them his sins are forgiven. But only God can forgive sins! The Pharisees had this part right: Only God has this power. They didn’t realize Jesus was God.
It’s popular in this culture to ignore how much God hates sin. We make him a tame God who will overlook our naughtiness. This is more manageable than knowing God is a wrathful God. We like safe gods, like the angel things we see at the Bible bookstore. Those little plaques that talk about a “nice” god are not welcome gifts to me!
We do not have control over God: The lame man is a sinner, not a victim.
“Dad, just because I’m mentally ill, doesn’t mean I’m not a sinner.” -Derek Hugan. My son suffers from a variety of mental health issues. He walks a difficult path in this world and he does so with dignity and grace. He fights for truth and belief. He’s a victim of the things going on in his brain that I cannot comprehend. I was talking to him once and treating him as a victim and that is when he said the above quote to me. He said he uses his mental illness as a crutch and excuse. He knows he is a sinner. Don’t fall into a culture which says there is a division between those two things.
Jesus is in Capernaum: Matt 11: 21-24. He began to denounce cities because they wouldn’t repent. Wow! These cities saw the Messiah’s power and walked in it.
Do you have four people who will raze the roof for you? Who will bring you to Jesus? This is why we have pilgrim groups! You will find friends here and to you to Jesus by digging through a roof. God’s wrath is appeased through what Jesus does. The corporate lie is that I have to find my own way: This is a life. NO…Jesus is THE way to get to God. The culture says it’s just me and Jesus. But this is not how it works. Jesus noted the faith of those friends and the paralytic. He speaks to this. It’s you and a community of followers learning about Jesus together.
Are you razing the roof for your friends? In N. America, we individualize faith. In the early church, the neighborhood around the church was the parish: the place where the church was to offer Jesus. It was the surrounding area. Jesus is the messiah who has come to heal and work through his people to heal.
Our purpose of gathering is to “get something…” Don’t be late: that is coming to just receive and not give and worship. Listen to these songs and worship. Take the Lord’s Supper.