We all sit around our small living room, coffee and tea in hands. Bibles are open and scattered over laps and tables, and spread wide over children's tiny knees. We're open to Mark 2. We're reading through the gospel of Mark with our home church and sharing together this journey of discipleship. The atmosphere is cozy as we snuggle knee to knee in a circle of old chairs and the crazy flowered couch.
We read from God's Word:
"A few days later, when Jesus came back to Capernaum, the news spread that He was home. Many people gathered together so that there was no room in the house, not even outside the door. And Jesus was teaching them God's message. Four people came, carrying a paralyzed man. Since they could not get to Jesus because of the crowd, they dug a hold in the roof right above where he was speaking. When they got through, they lowered the mat with the paralyzed man on it.
When Jesus saw the faith of these people, He said to the paralyzed man, "Young man, your sins are forgiven." Now, some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, "Why does this man say things like that? He is speaking as if He were God! Only God can forgive sins." Jesus knew immediately what these teachers of the law were thinking. So, he said to them, "Why are you thinking this? Which is easier: to tell this paralyzed man, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to tell him, 'Stand up. Take your mat and walk'? But I will prove to you that the Son of Man has authority to forgive sins."
So Jesus said to the paralyzed man, "I tell you, stand up, take your mat, and go home." Immediately the paralyzed man stood up, took his mat, and walked out while everyone was watching him. The people were amazed and praised God. They said, "We have never seen anything like this!"
And all too often I pass through this kind of reading with a blasphemous aloofness. Sure, Christ Jesus came, He healed, He forgave sins. He healed our relationship with Almighty God for all of time. He was Father God, Yahweh, in flesh. It's as if I can speed through this richness, this Truth that alters my very being and breath. I am revealed this Truth and why does it not bring me to tears and to my knees over and over again just to read of it?
It is the power of the living God. This Message.
We focus in on one particular part:
When Jesus saw the faith of these people, He said to the paralyzed man, 'Young man, your sins are forgiven.'
My husband calls all the children over to the back room and has Josiah with blond and and a wide smile lay flat on his back on a towel.
"Ok, Josiah, you are paralyzed. You can't move."
All the children and adults circle around, looking on.
"Now, I need someone to try to move Him. Simon - try. Try to move Josiah on the towel."
Simon, a little smaller than eleven-year-old Josiah, pulls with all his might to move the towel, but it doesn't budge.
"It's hard, isn't it? Now we need more children to circle around Josiah, we all need to lift him. He needs himself lifted up and moved. Remember, he's paralyzed."
The children gather around the tattered towel and place sticky hands all around. They lift and Josiah rises, all crooked and wobbly and laughing. But he is lifted, nonetheless. The children, all together lift Josiah and move him to the living room, carefully (sort of) placing him back down on the floor.
See, this is the illustration of the men who carried the paralyzed man to Jesus. That man couldn't move himself. But he needed moving, alright. That man needed healing and Christ's touch so badly and he was one who BELIEVED that touch would change everything. And the friends who carried him? They believed too. So, in faith, the men carried Him to the feet of The Healer, Jesus. He couldn't get there himself, so, he was carried. Lifted up, and brought before the Lord of Lords.
A few moments later, we place the same towel, folded, on the coffee table. We write the names of precious people in our lives and their needs on small pieces of recycled paper. The children join in, scratching the names of their friends, aunts, grandparents. We all place the papers in the middle of the towel and gaze at them. A quiet overwhelm fills the room.
I will never forget the moment we all stood in a circle and physically lifted the towel, hands all around. From the creases of the older and wiser, to the tiny pudgy hands of the smallest of us. We lifted it and at the same time lifted our voices and souls to Creator God, Healer God.
It isn't until I feel the Holy Spirit consume and the power of prayer take over that night in the circle isn't it the same also for us? Have you ever been paralyzed? I mean, maybe not physically, but mentally? Emotionally? Spiritually? Relationally? Have you been paralyzed by the fear that you're not a good enough… person? Mother? Father? Sister? Aunt? Grandmother? Teacher? Professional? Have you ever been in great need of a touch from the Healer? Has your body been physically sick? Has your spirit been crushed? Have you been lost for answers?
Do you know people who are stifled by sin, fear, shame, guilt, and what seem like impossible circumstances? Do you have friends in need?
Carry them to Christ. All our needs, all their needs. Everything - we carry them to Christ.
That's what we're called to do. And thought most of us are not physically paralyzed, so many of us feel paralyzed in other ways. We know those who are spiritually paralyzed. Those who desperately need believers to carry them to the cross in faith. Christ is no longer here physically on earth, but we carry people to Him through prayer.
In prayer, we carry that mat and shoulder the weight of it and pull and lift and struggle them all the way to the throne of grace.
At least, that's what we're called to do. And what we can do. And what we ought to do.
The paralyzed man was lifted, by faith, to Jesus. And because of the faith of those who lifted Him, He was healed.
Why wouldn't we then, lift the people we know and love to God in prayer? In faith, praying for their needs, interceding on their behalf, and believing we are heard?
Because He promises it is so.