Jesus heals paralytic … 3 hopes, 1 unexpected result

Imagine that you live in Israel, and your rooftop is flat. You use it like America uses a backyard. Tiles line the rooftop, and you’ve even filled an area with dirt and have grass growing on the rooftop to provide a little extra insulation. To get to the rooftop, you’ve built stairs on the side of the house.

One day, Jesus comes to your door, and you invite Him in. You call a few friends over, so that they can listen to His teachings. Soon, there are so many friends and neighbors in your home, it is impossible to move, and people are looking inside from the open windows and doors.

“Hey, Jesus is in Capernaum; let’s carry our friend to the house where He’s staying.”

The men arrive at the house, and they scurry from the doorway to the windows and back to the doorway. No way to get in.

“I know, we’ll carry him to the rooftop, dig through the dirt, remove the tiles, and lower him on his pallet.”

Clods of dirt fall from the ceiling. The crowd looks up as the rooftop hole gets bigger. One of the men peers through the hole, and then a pallet emerges from the hole.

Jesus looks up and perhaps smiles as the paralytic is lowered to His feet.

And Jesus seeing their faith said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” Mark 2:5

“What’s that about? We want our friend healed!”

The teachers of the Law thought, “That’s blasphemy! Only God can forgive sins.”  But Jesus knew what they were thinking.

Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, “Your sins are forgiven;” or to say “Get up, and pick up your pallet and walk?”

But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—He said to the paralytic, “I say to you, get up, pick up your pallet and go home.” And he got up and immediately picked up the pallet and went out in the sight of everyone, so that they were all amazed and were glorifying God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this.”  Mark 2:9-12

The Hope

  1. The hope of the crowd was to hear Jesus teach the Word. Perhaps they were hoping to see a miracle. They had faith that Jesus could work miracles.
  2. The hope of the paralytic was that his friends could bring him to Jesus for a healing. He had faith in his friends.
  3. The hope of the friends was that they could get their friend to Jesus. The friends knew that Jesus would heal their friend, and they were committed to do anything they needed to do to bring their friend to Jesus.

The Unexpected

The paralytic and the friends were hoping for a miracle of healing. Yet, Jesus always addressed the first priority in a person’s life, and for the paralytic, it was sin.

Everyone said that they had never seen anything like that and glorified God. They knew that Jesus could heal, but this time, Jesus used the healing to show that He also had authority to forgive sins. That authority made Jesus equal with God!

My Prayer for You

Heavenly Father, thank You for addressing our most pressing needs first. Many times, we come to you with what we think are our needs, not realizing that they are secondary to what we really need to address. Thank You for friends who have faith enough to bring us to You at all costs. May we sit at Your feet as You address our needs, and may everyone see the work that You are doing in our lives and give God the glory.

What are you hoping for?

God empowers us to step into the impossible, even for healing, to possess His great promises

Some streets in San Francisco appear to be impossible to climb. It takes one step at a time to reach the top. Breathless but proud that I made it, I looked down and recorded the accomplishment for all the world to see. This was two months after I was healed.

He entered again into a synagogue; and a man was there whose hand was withered. They were watching Him to see if He would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse Him. He said to the man with the withered hand, “Get up and come forward!” And He said to them, “Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the Sabbath to save a life or to kill?” But they kept silent. After looking around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored. Mark 3:1-5

Jesus had a reputation of showing compassion to the people He taught. When He encountered someone in need, He acted. Many times, though, He asked a person who would be healed to do the impossible.

Imagine being the focus of religious leaders intent on catching this famous Teacher and Healer doing good if He chooses to heal you.

Jesus looks at the man and commands, “Get up and come forward!”

He gasps, “Me?” Jesus nods.

Head down, withered hand shoved behind the folds in his robe, he shuffles through the crowd to Jesus.

“Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the Sabbath to save a life or to kill?” Silence.

Angry and grieved, Jesus looks around the room, catching the eye of some who quickly look away.

“Stretch out your hand.”

“Doesn’t He know that’s impossible? … Maybe He will heal my hand.”

The withered hand appears from the folds in his robe. The thumb quivers and breaks away from the rest of the hand. His fingers begin to move apart.

Smiling, the man raises his hand toward heaven as his fingers wildly dance back and forth.

His hand is healed!

On November 21, 2010, the Lord healed me. The next day, Jesus asked me to do the impossible, go back to work and act as if I were healed from fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome even though the doctor had placed me on reduced work and was encouraging me to think about disability or another job.

I told my doctor, and he said, “This could be good. What do you want to do?”

I said that I wanted to go back to work full time and begin weaning myself off my fibromyalgia medications. He agreed to test me for a month. A month later, he confirmed that I was healed.

Some asked me if I was afraid to tell people that I was healed.

“That’s why it’s important that I tell people that I am healed.”

I took Jesus at His word that He had healed me, and He gave me the power to be healed.

On the edge of the Promised Land, God also asked the Israelites to do the impossible … possess the Promised Land, a land filled with fortified cities and strong armies. They refused to obey God. God is a gentleman and gave them their wish. He provided for His people while they wandered in the wilderness until all had died who had refused to go into the land, except for Caleb and Joshua, who had encouraged them to possess the land.

Again, God asked them to possess the Promised Land. This time, Joshua led the people into the land, and God fought the battle for them. He empowered them to take possession.

Has God asked you to step from the side of the possible to the side of the impossible? He will empower you to take possession. Take the first step towards obedience, and He will fight the battle.

My prayer for you:

Father in Heaven, give us the faith and courage to step into the possible, so that we can take full possession of the promises and abundant life You have set before us. We’ll give You the glory and praise for the great and mighty works You will accomplish.

Have you wrestled with God?

Then Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. When he saw that he had not prevailed against him, he touched the socket of his thigh; so the socket of Jacob’s thigh was dislocated while he wrestled with him. Then he said, “Let me go, for the dawn is breaking.” But he said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” So he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” He said, “Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but Israel; for you have striven with God and with men and have prevailed.” … And he blessed him there. So Jacob named the place Peniel, for he said, “I have seen God face to face, yet my life has been preserved.” Genesis 32:24-30

I have felt hopeless, afraid, and alone in a barren land. I have wrestled with God. Have you? According to Matthew Henry, the great Bible commentator, “Wrestling believers may obtain glorious victories, and yet come off with broken bones; for when they are weak then are they strong, weak in themselves, but strong in Christ, 2 Co. 12:10.”

Since I was about 8-years-old, I wanted a deep intimacy with the Lord. Through the years, that longing became the deer panting for the water brooks, Psalm 42:1.

Fibromyalgia was my path to the water brooks.

I lived with pain and illness for most of my life, but in the late 1990s, my health declined rapidly, and the doctors did not know why. In 2001, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome, a complex chronic pain disorder. On many days, I felt like a Mac truck had run over me.

At first, I asked “Why?” Then, I asked, “What sin have I done that is responsible for this?”  Later, “Why is my faith so weak?”

No answers came, and I decided that this season was sent to me to teach me something, to refine me. I believed that my purpose was to blossom where I was planted—in pain and fatigue. As a result, I accepted my situation and found the blessing in the pain.

Yes, there is blessing in pain. Through this season, my husband, Keith, demonstrated his deep love for me as a patient and gentle caregiver. He offered selfless service with no expectations of me.

In addition, there was that sweet peace in the middle of the night when I lay on the sofa in pain, reading and praying the Psalms.

In 2008, Keith and I read Christ the Healer, and we began to consume the Scriptures on healing and the story of Abraham and Sarah. We became convinced that the Lord was going to heal me for a work that He had planned before the foundation of the world. Keith even told me that he would preach a sermon WHEN the Lord healed me.

In 2010, my health declined to the point that I was considering disability and possibly resigning from the work that I believed that the Lord had for me. In the depths of my pain and fatigue, the Lord miraculously healed me. This healing was confirmed by my doctor, and I am no longer taking fibromyalgia medication.

Jacob obeyed the Lord by returning to his homeland, but he heard that his brother, Esau, was coming to meet him with 400 men. Jacob had tricked Esau into selling his birthright and then stole his blessing and he was afraid of what Esau might do, so he cried out to the Lord, reminding God that he was obeying Him and that He had promised to bless Jacob and his household.

After that prayer, Jacob wrestled with God all night and wouldn’t let go until God had blessed him. God touched his hip socket and his hip was dislocated, but God also blessed him and changed Jacob’s name to Israel, for his spiritual nature changed at that instant.

In the two years between the time that Keith and I were promised that I would be healed, we wrestled with God until all our strength was depleted. When there was no chance that neither the doctors nor I could make my condition better, I gave up and told the Lord that all I wanted was more of Him. God touched my body, healed me, blessed Keith and me, and enabled me to do the work He had planned for me to accomplish.

That moment of healing defined  a new direction in my spiritual and physical journey.

Defining moments have helped to shape my body, spirit, and soul. These moments were not random, but rather, they were created specifically for me–to direct my path, my hope, my love, and my faith.

As I have listened deeply to my defining moments, I have prayed intensely, learned to love passionately, and I hope to bless widely.

My prayer for you:

Gracious Father, bless this dear reader with Your perfect peace and blessings. May this fellow heir to the Kingdom recognize the defining moments You have sent this child of Yours, and bestow Your great and precious promises upon this reader.