Healing Happens in Community
Scripture Reading — Luke 5:17-26
17One day as he was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law, who had come from every village of Galilee and from Judea and Jerusalem, were sitting there. And the power of the Lord was present for him to heal the sick. 18Some men came carrying a paralytic on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus. 19When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus. 20When Jesus saw their faith, he said, "Friend, your sins are forgiven." 21The Pharisees and the teachers of the law began thinking to themselves, "Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?" 22Jesus knew what they were thinking and asked, "Why are you thinking these things in your hearts? 23Which is easier: to say, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Get up and walk'? 24But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins...." He said to the paralyzed man, "I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home." 25Immediately he stood up in front of them, took what he had been lying on and went home praising God. 26Everyone was amazed and gave praise to God. They were filled with awe and said, "We have seen remarkable things today." —
"Which is easier: to say, ?Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, ?Get up and walk'?" Luke 5:23
Debilitating disease or sudden illness strikes fear at the core of our being. The experience is particularly trying when we're not sure of the cause of the illness.
The man who was confined to his mat had probably heard all his life that he was paralyzed because he or his parents must have committed a terrible sin (see John 9:1-2). In those days people quickly drew those kinds of conclusions. Illness and disability were seen as a sign of God's judgment. Jesus didn't want people to draw such cause-and-effect kinds of conclusions (John 9:3). But he did know that, like all of us, this man needed God's forgiving grace. Forgiveness of sins and the ability to move are closely connected in this story. Nothing immobilizes us more than unconfessed sin.
When a marriage is deadlocked in disagreement, when unresolved conflict stymies relationships at church, we feel paralyzed. I have been part of mediation efforts to bring people together again, and when reconciliation happens, it's obvious that God is at work. Only God can forgive the incredible load of sin and guilt we carry around, and only God can ultimately heal our bodies. Jesus has the power to do both. But he starts with the heart of the problem.
Where do you see God at work in making people whole today?
Thank you, Jesus, for Christian communities that go out of their way to practice your presence. Use us to help people experience the freedom of your forgiving grace. Amen.