Ninth Day of Advent   14 comments

Above:  Jesus and the Paralytic at Capernaum

Who Was Really Paralyzed?

MONDAY, DECEMBER 11, 2017

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Isaiah 35:1-10 (Revised English Bible):

Let the wilderness and the parched land be glad,

let the desert rejoice and burst into flower.

Let it flower with fields of asphodel,

let it rejoice and shout for joy.

The glory of Lebanon is given to it,

the splendour too of Carmel and Sharon;

these will see the glory of the LORD,

the splendour of our God.

Brace the arms that are limp,

steady the knees that give way;

say to the anxious,

Be strong, fear not!

Your God comes to save you

with his vengeance and his retribution.

Then the eyes of the blind will be opened,

and the ears of the deaf will like deer,

and the dumb shout aloud;

for water will spring up in the wilderness

and torrents flow in the desert.

The mirage will become a pool,

the thirsty land bubbling springs;

instead of reeds and rushes, grass will grow

in country where wolves have their lairs.

And a causeway will appear there;

it will be called the Way of Holiness.

No one unclean will pass along it;

it will become a pilgrim’s way,

and no fool will trespass on it.

No lion will come there,

no savage beast go by;

not one will be found there.

But by that way those the LORD  has redeemed will return.

The LORD’s people, set free, will come back

and enter Zion with shouts of triumph,

crowned with everlasting joy.

Gladness and joy will come upon them,

while suffering and weariness flee away.

Psalm 85:8-13 (Revised English Bible):

Let me hear the words of God the LORD;

he proclaims peace to his people and loyal servants;

let them not go back to foolish ways.

Deliverance is near to those who worship him,

so that glory may dwell in our land.

Love and faithfulness have come together;

justice and peace have embraced.

Faithfulness appears from earth

and justice looks down from heaven.

The LORD will grant prosperity,

and our land will yield its harvest.

Justice will go in front of him,

and peace on the path he treads.

Luke 5:17-26 (Revised English Bible):

One day as he [Jesus] was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting round him.  People had come from every village in Galilee and from Judaea and Jerusalem, and the power of the Lord was with him to heal the sick.  Some men appeared carrying a paralyzed man on a bed, and tried to bring him in and set him down in front of Jesus.  Finding no way to do so because of the crowd, they went up onto the roof and let him down through the tiling, bed and all, into the middle of the company in front of Jesus.  When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the man,

Your sins are forgiven you.

The scribes and Pharisees began asking among themselves,

Who is this fellow with his blasphemous talk?  Who but God alone can forgive sins?

But Jesus knew what they were thinking and answered them:

Why do you harbour these thoughts?  Is it easier to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Stand up and walk’? But to convince you that the Son of Man has the right on earth to forgive sins”

–he turned to the paralyzed man–

I say to you, stand up, take your bed, and go home.

At once the man rose to his feet before their eyes, took up the bed he had been lying on, and went home praising God.  They were all lost in amazement and praised God; filled with awe they said,

The things we have seen today are beyond belief!

The Collect:

Merciful God, who sent your messengers the prophets to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation: Give us grace to heed their warnings and forsake our sins, that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ our Redeemer; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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God seeks to be gracious to us.  We read this message in both the Old Testament and the New Testament and we see it in the life of Jesus.  This theme permeates the three readings for this day in Advent.

In Luke 5:17-26 Jesus extends graciousness and healing to a very fortunate paralytic.  This man has good friends who lower him from a roof because that is the only way to get him to Jesus.  And our Lord and Savior heals the man with faithful friends.

I propose that the man was merely a bodily paralytic and that the critics of Jesus were spiritual paralytics.  The Sweet Hereafter is one of my favorite movies.  It depicts a small town of able-bodied yet emotionally crippled people after a school bus crash in which all but one of the students dies.  The survivor, Nicole, is paralyzed from the waist down.  Yet she is not crippled emotionally.  She is, in fact, the most whole person in the town.  In the healing story the true paralytics are the critics of Jesus, for their fear and preconceptions prevented them from following the path of righteousness.  They could not walk in the light because of their attachments to their traditions and status.

It is a rare and fortunate person who lacks any inner paralysis–emotional, psychological, or spiritual.  May we welcome God’s healing.  May we want God to make us well and whole.

KRT

Written on May 31, 2010

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2011/11/12/who-was-really-paralyzed/

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