Treasure Valley Prays

Holy Roofs and Strange Sights

carrying a woman in wheelchair

Jesus Heals a Paralytic

One day, while he was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting nearby (they had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem); and the power of the Lord was with him to heal. Just then some men came, carrying a paralyzed man on a bed. They were trying to bring him in and lay him before Jesus; but finding no way to bring him in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down with his bed through the tiles into the middle of the crowd in front of Jesus. When he saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven you.” Then the scribes and the Pharisees began to question, “Who is this who is speaking blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” When Jesus perceived their questionings, he answered them, “Why do you raise such questions in your hearts? Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Stand up and walk’? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the one who was paralyzed—“I say to you, stand up and take your bed and go to your home.” Immediately he stood up before them, took what he had been lying on, and went to his home, glorifying God. Amazement seized all of them, and they glorified God and were filled with awe, saying, “We have seen strange things today.” (Luke 5:17-26 NRSV)

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.

Picture of Sarah Henthorn

Sarah Henthorn

Member of Trinity Lutheran, Nampa ID

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