Taking Off Our Smarty Pants
I have a tendency to think I know how to handle things. I can think I’m such a smarty-pants.
In Luke 5 Jesus is teaching and healing in a local house. So many people have come to see him that it’s impossible for anyone to get in or out–kind of like the sweet New Year’s party my roommates and I threw in college. In that town there is a paralyzed man with four really great friends. When they hear Jesus is in town and that he’s been healing people they drop everything they’re doing, grab the four corners of the mat their friend is laying on, and carry him to the house where Jesus is staying. They try pushing their way through the crowd but there’s no chance for them to get all the way to Jesus, so they improvise. They go up on the roof, clear a large hole, and drop their friend down right in front of Jesus.
“When Jesus saw their faith he said, ‘friend, your sins are forgiven.'”
Say what?! If I was the friends I would have been completely disappointed, or angry, or confused–I just know I wouldn’t have been happy. They didn’t bring their friend there to get his sins forgiven (though at the time the common understanding was that paralysis was caused by sin), they brought him to Jesus to get him up off his mat! Jesus does eventually heal this man physically, but this raises an important point as we seek to help others. We don’t know what they really need.
Sure, if someone is homeless they need a place to stay. If someone loses a loved one they need a shoulder to cry on. That’s as obvious as the paralyzed man’s need to be able to walk. But Jesus’ actions remind me that the obvious need may not be the deepest need. Whatever part we play in meeting people’s needs we cannot take care of it all on our own. We need to direct people toward Jesus, the ultimate Healer, or even carry them if necessary, so he can heal them completely. We are not usually as good at fixing things as we think we are.
“For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.” 1 Cor. 1:25