Jesus Heals a Paralytic
Take a moment and really imagine this story. What do you see? What do you smell? Where are you in the scene and who are you with? Which characters do you relate to? Why?
There is something about this gospel story that always captures my imagination. Over the years, I think I’ve heard it told from almost every point of view: the one in need of healing, the friends, Jesus, and the scribes. Most of these are so relatable.
There are times when I have felt “paralyzed” by fear or circumstance. Many of us have wrestled with feeling a loss of agency this year. Some of us have had to rely on others to get around. With quarantine, some of us have had to rely on others to bring resources to us. Maybe you can imagine yourself being carried around on the mat, dependent on your friends and the hope that this Jesus guy might be able to do something.
Maybe you know what it’s like to care deeply about someone who has a huge need. Sometimes people we love face obstacles that we don’t know how to fix. It’s frustrating and our hearts break. There comes a point where you’re willing to grasp at any opportunity for hope. Have you ever been there? Relentlessly pursuing hope at all costs can take you to unexpected rooftops. Can you imagine?
The one voice we don’t usually think about is that of the homeowner. I’m sure it was a bit disconcerting to watch someone dig a hole in your roof. Can you imagine that? Maybe you thought you were inviting Jesus over for lunch and then a huge crowd follows him. Now you’re expected to be hospitable to all these folks and it feels a bit overwhelming. It’s hot and bodies are packed together so it smells and moving around is difficult. Then to top it all off, people start “destroying” your house. This is not the story you thought you signed up for.
Can you relate to the homeowner? Have you ever found yourselves in a story you did not sign up for? Life can be messy and the space between our expectations and reality can be uncomfortable. Yet, this story shows us that these uncomfortable moments are the important ones. This is precisely when wisdom calls us to take our eyes off the problem (the gaping hole in the ceiling) and turn them toward the incarnate God because this is where it gets interesting. If we are paying attention, we might walk away amazed.
So my friends, wherever you find yourselves in the story, may you find God with you. May God be with you who feel paralyzed, like you are wasting away. May God be with you who are willing to carry others to the place where Jesus is. May God be with you who dismantle roofs to lay others at Christ’s feet. May God be with you who own roofs and offer them as shelter to Jesus…and to the crowds…and are anxious about the roof. I am grateful for a God who is with us, each person in the story. A God who inhabits these spaces and brings God’s presence to encounter and move within each person’s story. I am grateful to be in this story together. May you encounter Christ and see strange things today.