Paralysis into praise
In Luke 5:17-26, Jesus does the impossible. He takes a helpless paralytic, incapable of walking, a man who couldn’t even fetch himself a pail of water, and in a moment, reverses his paralysis into new life of possibilities and praise.
The paralytic’s friends had a burden for their friend’s health. They were willing to do whatever it took to bring their friend before Jesus. They innovate and dig a hole into the roof to lower their friend to the one who had power to heal. As rubble from the roof falls upon Jesus and the crowd, the paralytic looks for a Hail Mary pass from God himself.
The religious people are oblivious to the paralytic. They are so focused on sizing up Jesus they could care less about the paralytic’s predicament.
Jesus does what he does so often – the unpredictable and the unthinkable. He offers the paralytic forgiveness. “Why? That’s not what he needs! You can’t do that! Only God can forgive sins! Forgiveness happens at the temple!” Religious people struggle to embrace Jesus because he doesn’t fit their man-made box.
Jesus, knowing their mindset, replies, “What is easier, to forgive sins or to say ‘Get up and walk?’” Both seem impossible! It’s the ninth inning and the crowd is wondering if Jesus can deliver on his Babe Ruth-like calling of the home run over the left field wall. Upon Jesus’ words, the paralytic gets up, picks up his stretcher and goes home glorifying God.
Imagine having your feet under you for the first time, your shivering feet like that of a baby giraffe ready to stabilize. Soon, you are ready to take the dance floor. Elvis Presley would be jealous of this dance of jubilation. Your new legs offer you a new lot on life, a new purpose, new possibilities you never thought imaginable – resurrection. Your transformation brings the onlookers to their knees with reverent fear and heartfelt worship.
The God of Jesus turns paralytics into praise to this day. When I am at my worst, helpless and incapable of making myself morally or spiritually healthy, Christ looks at me and forgives me. In the middle of my despair, at crunch time in my life, God whispers to “Get up and walk.” I don’t go to Jesus on my own. Usually, humble, loving and sacrificial friends bring me to church. When my eyes are open to Jesus’ power, forgiveness and love, new possibilities sprout like a Chia pet on miracle grow – resurrection.
Brennan Manning summarizes God’s loving words displayed in the work of Jesus: “I know your whole life story, every skeleton in your closet, every moment of sin, shame, dishonesty and degraded love that has darkened your past. I know your shallow faith, feeble prayer life and inconsistent discipleship. I dare you to trust that I love you just as you are, and not as you should be, because you are never going to be as you should be.”
This good news shown in Jesus makes an old man a new. Your shame is erased. Your debt canceled. New possibilities abound. This doesn’t mean perfection but an ongoing construction, divinely and gently given. You don’t have to find your ultimate worth from your spouse, your kids, your career, the size of your house, or the size of your retirement. Your joy is now based on eternal things, not the things that fade away. Jesus is now the great healer who defines you. By faith you belong to God. He is yours and you are his. Resurrection.