This story was shared as part of the sermon on October 6, 2013.
We are inside a small sun-baked brick house. Jesus is talking to the local religious leaders, while crowds hang around outside, straining their ears. We disciples are a little nervous, because if these leaders don’t like what Jesus is saying, it could hurt his career. He, however, seems perfectly at ease.
A little dust drifts by his face, and I glance up. More dust is coming down, and alarmed, I look to Jesus. Far from being worried, the corner of his mouth twitches in a little smile and his eyes start to twinkle. More and more dust floats down, disturbing the religious leaders, until everybody is gazing up at the ceiling. Then suddenly – daylight! – as a brick is removed. The hole grows quickly larger, and we see a four faces peer down into the room. Grinning widely, Jesus nods, and the faces disappear, replaced by something solid and rectangular. As it drops lower, I can now see a pallet on which a man is lying. Jesus’ grin turns to a look of compassion as he sees the twisted limbs and I know there must have been some terrible sin somewhere for this to happen. On Jesus’ other side, the religious leaders are muttering about the gall of interrupting their meeting. When I look back, I see a look on the lame man’s face that is a mixture of apology, shame, and pleading.
I step forward, expecting to see a miracle like many I have seen before, but instead, Jesus takes the man’s hand, smiles into his eyes, and says, “Cheer up, my friend! Your sins are forgiven.” Unbelieving joy floods the thin, pinched face, and the muttering among the religious leaders turns ugly. It’s easy enough to guess what they are thinking: “Blasphemy! Blasphemy”‘
Jesus knows it too, and stiffens slightly as he turns to them “Tell me,” he demands. “why are you determined to think the worst?” When they give no reply, he goes on “Then tell me this – is it easier to say ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say ‘Get up and walk?'” They don’t answer that one either. After all, how can you answer a question like that? “Fine,” the Master says. “You believe I’m setting myself up as God? Let me demonstrate my authority” Turning to the man on the pallet, he ordered, “Get up, friend!”
Without the slightest hesitation, the man strengthened his grip on Jesus’ hand, and never taking his eyes from that kind face, he swung his legs over the side and stood.
“Now pick up that pallet that has carried you for so long, and walk into your new life.”
The man nodded, his eyes and the light on his face saying his thanks for him. With an incredible glowing smile to his friends above him, he danced from the room.
Jesus also looked up at them and smiled approvingly. “He was cured because of your faith,” he told them, and in wonder, they leap up to go find their friend.
Then Jesus looked at the religious leaders. “Do you understand what just happened?” he asked. “Do you know what you have seen?”
We disciples did. Jesus, our Master, has authority over sickness, over demons, over wind and wave – and over sin. Never was there anyone else like him. Never.