2 When Jesus returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. 2 So many gathered around that there was no longer room for them, not even in front of the door; and he was speaking the word to them.
3 Then some people came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. 4 And when they could not bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him; and after having dug through it, they let down the mat on which the paralytic lay. 5 When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”
6 Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, 7 “Why does this fellow speak in this way? It is blasphemy! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” 8 At once Jesus perceived in his spirit that they were discussing these questions among themselves; and he said to them, “Why do you raise such questions in your hearts? 9 Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Stand up and take your mat and walk’?
10 But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the paralytic— 11 “I say to you, stand up, take your mat and go to your home.” 12 And he stood up, and immediately took the mat and went out before all of them; so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!”
A couple of little things I couldn’t work into the sermon have continued to knock around in my spirit the last few days.
The first has to do with a part of the sermon in which I mentioned that sometimes all we have to give is our vulnerability, and that this is a gift with which Jesus can do great things. You know, according to Scripture, especially places like Philippians chapter 2, Christ’s willingness to be vulnerable might have been the greatest gift Jesus himself had to give.
Anyway, there was this story along those lines that I didn’t share Sunday. A mom told me the story a while back. It went kind of like this…
You see, last school year the woman’s daughter (age range five to eight) had a little accident at school. The accident had to do with the little girl’s pants, if you know what I mean. (And, I bet we all do. It’s happened to each of us and to all of our children at one time or another.)
The woman’s daughter was mortified. That’s not surprising. It even took the girl a while to work through it. But she did.
And the next school year this same daughter found herself alone in the bathroom with a girl from the same grade. The other girl was weeping. She had had an accident in her pants.
The mom’s school age daughter, a little Christian by the way, cared for her crying classmate. She encouraged the weeping girl. She told her that it happens and that it would be all right. And, things did become better.
It was such a little event, such a tiny story to us. But it probably was a big deal to God.
Sometimes, many times in fact, the best thing we have to give is our vulnerability made beautiful by the love of the vulnerable Christ.
The other thing I need to share during this week’s Second Take has more of a wide-angle lens to it. In the sermon I asked us to identify with the four unnamed people who carry the paralyzed man to Jesus. I asked us to wonder how we could simply share what we have to give, even if all we have to give is the ability to carry a stretcher.
Now I want to take that wondering a step further, and when we do I think we uncover a helpful pattern for relating lots of Bible stories to our lives.
OK, the four guys carrying the mat – that’s where we may see ourselves. And so we wonder how we can carry our mats here and now. How we can give what we have to give.
OK, where do we see our neighbor? In this reading, we see our neighbor in the paralyzed man we are trying to care for? What does that neighbor look like in August 2013?
OK, finally, where do we see God? Well, in the story, we see God in Jesus, of course. In the story Jesus is healing the paralyzed person without demanding the person go on about his guilt and shame. Where do we see God doing that kind of thing in our world?
Do you get it? We ask ourselves as we consider a story: 1) Where do I see God? 2) Where do I see myself? 3) Where do I see my neighbor? And we just play around with it. And, hopefully, in some real, Jesus-shaped way, we act upon what we see.