Daily Office Readings – Gospel ( Luke 5:12-26 )
In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus heals a man from leprosy and then later, he heals a paralyzed man who had been lowered through the roof of the house by his friends. Rather than immediately healing the man, Jesus forgives the man his sins, which sets off a dialogue with the ranks of the scribes and pharisees on who this person could be, the man who is forgiving the sins of others.
Jesus notices the questions, and asks them what is easier to say, “Your sins are forgiven,” or “Stand up and walk.” Taken literally, neither one is more difficult to say than the other. Both consist of four words. Both take about the same time to say. It seems like such an odd question, since to most people, confronted with someone seeking to be healed from a physical infirmity, both responses would be impossible to say. And, forgiveness of sins seems like such an odd response to the reality of a paralyzed man laying on a bed in front of you. Yet Jesus responds with the forgiveness of sins.
To be fair, the forgiveness of sins is healing. It heals the soul and the mind. It heals the heart. Healing from physical infirmity is another type of healing, and this man lowered from the ceiling received both that day. And in the process, Jesus managed to once again make it clear to those seeking to silence him and get rid of him, that he was, in fact, the Son of Man – indicating his humanity – and also, the Son of God – indicating his divinity. He had the authority and the power to heal, he had the power to forgive sins.
And Jesus did both.
The paralyzed man stood up, picked up his bed, and walked away. And all those present were filled with awe and amazement.
Now, I know this is primarily a matter of the translation I am using, but at the end of the reading, my translation states that the people there said, “We have seen strange things today.”
“We have seen strange things today.”
After having been told that these people were filled with amazement and awe, and were glorifying God, these people then said what amounts to, “Yup. That was weird.” This depiction of their response seems so contrary to the way we are told they are acting – glorifying God in a state of awe.
Again, I know this is largely due to my translation, and also to whatever thoughts were going through my head this morning as one of my prayer partners read that passage from Luke. But, the strange juxtaposition of words and actions just kind of jumped out at me, and I began to wonder about how sometimes our reactions to the amazing works of God in this world come down to our simply stating, “Yup. That was weird.”
We are confronted with the miraculous every day. We are confronted with an inexplicable turn of events that improve the lives of others. We are confronted with random acts of kindness – that affect us and those we love – in ways that defy logic, sometimes even to those performing those acts of kindness. Some people with incurable diseases are cured, and others told they will never walk again, defy the odds, and learn not only to walk, but to run. The miraculous surrounds us, if we care to see it.
And our response? “We have seen strange things today,” we say, and look for a rational, logical explanation to these events. Our mind seems to search for something concrete to grasp on to, because we would rather unlock the mysteries of the universe and put things into nice ordered set of boxes and cubbyholes. We chalk things up to coincidences, being in the right place at the right time. We see patterns where none exist, so that we might not stand in awe of anything, but instead, create order out of chaos.
Instead, we ought simply to remain in a state of awe, and glorify a God who orders our chaos for us.
Mike is a jack of all trades, master of none. He’s a data analyst, programmer, and loves to cook. If he doesn’t have his face buried in a book or is staring blankly at a computer screen, you can find him on a motorcycle, enjoying the ride.
Mike holds a Masters of Divinity from Fuller Theological Seminary.