Summary: 7th Sunday after Epiphany, Series B Jesus heals us through forgiveness.
7th Sunday after Epiphany February 10,2006
Grace be unto you and peace, from God our Father and from our Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Let us pray: Gracious God, through the gift of your Son, you have come among us to offer us your promise of pardon and the hope of new life. Yet all too often, we allow despair to quench our hope, and resignation to blind us to the future you have envisioned for us. Through the power of your Holy Spirit, open our hearts and minds that we might see your transforming power at work in our lives, and through the fellowship of your church. This we ask in Christ’s holy name. Amen.
This morning, I would like to acknowledge that many of my thoughts and words have been derived from Steven H. Delzer’s sermon, entitled NEW LIFE, published in Augsburg Sermons 2, published in 1984.
Can you imagine what it must have been like for the paralyzed person in our Gospel lesson for this morning? How would you feel if you knew you would never be able to take a quiet walk along the sandy beach on a warm summer night, never walk through a snow-covered forest, or never skate across an ice-covered lake.
All day long, day after day, this person probably replayed his life in his mind. After all, his mind was all that he had left. His body was nothing but a limp dishrag, dangling down from his eyes. He couldn’t move, but his mind was filled with pictures – images from his past. Some of those images may have enabled him to experience a little joy in his life, as he relived happier times.
But he also may have rehearsed images of all that went wrong in his life. He may have scanned those images, searching for some reason, some clue, some understanding as to what he had done to deserve this fate. Perhaps his paralysis was God’s punishment for some sin that he had committed.
No one knows how long this person had been paralyzed. I would guess from our text that he was not born in this condition, since we are told that he had several mobile friends who really cared about him. Even in today’s culture, it is hard to make friends when you can never get out of bed and circulate among the people.
I would also guess that this person had tried many different cures. Perhaps he had gone to other so called “healers” who had tried to give new life to his dead limbs. But it had never worked before. And so we might imagine that this man had given up hope. Why set yourself up for more disappointment, which became harder to bear each time he allowed himself think that he might walk again?
Then one day Jesus came back to his home in Capernaum. The friends of this paralyzed man had heard about Jesus. They had heard how he was able to heal many others who were sick with various diseases. Maybe he could help their friend. And so they rush to tell their stricken friend the good news. “Guess what?” they said. “Jesus is in town. We want to take you to see him. We believe he can heal your paralysis.”
“Oh, that’s just great!” their friend replied. “That’s just what I need, another disappointment. How many times are you going to build up my hopes, only to have them come crashing down, and leaving me more depressed. Face it. I’m paralyzed. Why just you just go and leave me alone.”
“Why?” his friends responded. Because we believe Jesus is different than all the others. Jesus preaches and teaches with an authority unlike the scribes. We have even heard that he can cast out demons. Maybe this time you will be healed and able to have your life renewed.”
So they set off down the road to the house where Jesus was staying – four men carrying the pallet that bore the paralyzed body of their friend – four men full of hope and faith, and one man barely hanging on to his last hope.
But when they got to where Jesus was staying, they couldn’t even get close to the door. They tried to push their way through the crowd, but the crowd wouldn’t budge. They came all this way, their poor paralyzed friend bouncing and twisting on his pallet, and they couldn’t even get anywhere near Jesus.
But these were no fair-weather friends, who could easily be deterred. They procured some rope and a ladder, then went around the back of the house and climbed up on the roof. Then they carefully lifted their friend up on the roof, and proceeded to tear a hole in the roof, large enough to lower the friend on his pallet into the house where Jesus was teaching.