Monday, March 30, 2009

The man on the mat

For the word of God is full of living power. It is sharper than the sharpest knife, cutting deep into our innermost thoughts and desires. It exposes us for what we really are. – Hebrews 4:12 (NLT)

Jesus was in town, and the place was packed. Outside the humble house where He stood teaching, townsfolk crowded around the door and windows, straining to hear what He was saying, hoping to catch of glimpse the Man who healed all kinds of diseases and disabilities, drove out demons, brought the dead back to life, taught with more authority than the most learned rabbi. Why, word was that He’d fed a crowd of thousands with just a small lunch! He commanded a fierce storm to be still—and it did! What would He do today?

Among the spiritually hungry, the curiosity seekers and His disciples were those who came to find fault—the jealous religious leaders.

Then, in the middle of the sermon, a commotion on the roof caused all to look up. As chunks of clay and dried branches rained down on them, the crowd watched as a mat was lowered through the hole and came to rest on the dirt floor in front of Jesus. Four sweaty, hopeful faces peered through the hole on the roof.

“My son,” Jesus told the man on the mat, “your sins are forgiven.”

The crowd gasped. Only God could forgive sins! The Pharisees’ faces betrayed a controlled fury. They stared at Him with narrowed eyes and pursed lips.

“OK,” Jesus said, “I’ll prove to you that I have the authority to forgive sins.”

Gazing tenderly at the paralyzed man, Jesus said, “Stand up, take up your mat, and go home, because you are healed!”

The stunned crowd gaped as the man on the mat did just that.

In this story, five sets of individuals were present: the Pharisees, the crowd, the four friends, the paralytic and the disciples.

I see myself in all of these groups, for they represent spiritual stages we all find ourselves in at one time or another.

I can be a Pharisee, full of myself, influenced by the world, clinging to religious traditions, and finding fault with anything that doesn’t fit in my narrow viewpoint.

I’ve mingled with the curious, the thrill seekers, the hope-hungry, truth-starved souls desperate for something to believe in.

Many times, in prayer, I’ve brought a precious friend, a loved one, to Him and laid him or her down at Jesus’ feet.

And times I’m the one on the mat, crippled by fear, hopelessness, despair—helpless to help myself.

And sometimes, like the disciples, I watch Him day after day, trying to learn what He’s teaching me, yet struggling with the magnitude of the job following Him requires.

Tell me, where are you in this story?

Dear Jesus, remove the blinders from the eyes of today’s Pharisees, fill the hungry with Your goodness, show us someone who needs You, break the bonds that paralyze and cripple us, and show us where we can serve You today. Amen.

Special-Tea: Read Luke 5:17–26

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