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Thursday, August 4, 2016

Today’s Reading | Luke 5:17–26

One day, while he was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting near by (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.” (NRSV)

If I were the paralytic in this story and heard Jesus proclaiming not “Your paralysis is cured” but “Friend, your sins are forgiven you,” I might have felt dejected. After all, as the Pharisees claim, there is less evidence for forgiveness of sins as a healing gesture; there was no physical proof that the paralytic was going to have a better quality of life after this.

But, as we see, the paralytic does not complain; he does not protest, “Hey, I thought you were going to help me walk!” He lies on his bed in silence, letting the doubting Pharisees and scribes argue, until Jesus commands him to go home. Although he was not told that he would be able to do so, he is so filled with faith in Jesus that he tries to stand anyway, and for that he is rewarded with the ability to walk.

Can you imagine the amount of faith that would have taken? Despite the risk of falling flat on his face in front of this crowd of people, the paralytic walked and disproved the (no doubt open-mouthed) Pharisees. He knew the power of the phrase “Your sins are forgiven.” I can only pray that I may be so consistently faith-filled as to give myself over to Jesus’ spiritual healing in times of turmoil.

God, give me the faith of the paralytic, and cleanse my doubting heart and soul. Help me to remember that even when I don’t know how things will turn out, you will always provide for me through the forgiveness of sins. Amen.

Written by Katie MacKendrick, Editorial Assistant

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