After Jesus’ tour round Galilee, he comes back home. (Living with Simon and Andrew’s family ?) News of his reappearance soon spreads, and the crowds are there again. Jesus was making a big impact wherever he went.
On this occasion, he is teaching in the house. (he spoke the word – logos – to them). Then four people arrive, carrying a paralysed man on a mat. They can’t get in. In desperation they go up on to the top of the house, and unroof the roof!
When they lower him down, Jesus saw their faith and said to the paralysed man ‘Your sins are forgiven’
The focus of this part of the encounter is not to do with the man’s presenting need, being paralysed, but to do with a deeper need to know forgiveness.
The old rhyme – ‘sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never harm me’ isn’ true. And in the same way that words can do deep damage to our soul, they can also bring deep healing. In our churches, we have often imagined that our first task is to make people realise how sinful they are, so that they then seek God’s forgiveness. If we go on about sin long enough, people will realise how worthless they are and turn to God!?
But the world does a pretty good job already of telling us that we are not worthy. The visual images that accompany the the advert that tells us ‘You’re worth it’, just tell us the opposite. Maybe if we have that beautiful hair and waif like figure we are worth it. But witness the alarming rates of suicide in young men; the illnesses connected to self image; the effects of redundancy; the drug and alcohol culture. All of these are signs that we don’t feel ‘worth it’
What the church can and must offer, in word and action, is an experience in community of acceptance and forgiveness that can go beyond ideas of self worth to a realisation that we are loved, immeasurably loved.
Guilty of dust and sin.
But quick-ey’d Love, observing me grow slack
From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning
If I lack’d anything.
“A guest,” I answer’d, “worthy to be here”;
Love said, “You shall be he.”
“I, the unkind, the ungrateful? ah my dear,
I cannot look on thee.”
Love took my hand and smiling did reply,
“Who made the eyes but I?”
“Truth, Lord, but I have marr’d them; let my shame
Go where it doth deserve.”
“And know you not,” says Love, “who bore the blame?”
“My dear, then I will serve.”
“You must sit down,” says Love, “and taste my meat.”
So I did sit and eat.
Triggered by an article in Third Way magazine: Love Trying To happen by Sebastian Moore.