Discipleship Afoot: Stand Up and Walk
Certainly, when we talk about walking, as we’ve done in this Discipleship Afoot series, those with disabilities who cannot physically walk may cringe. They can hopefully apply the spiritual lesson of discipleship, but they don’t have the physical ability, the topic may be painful. There’s a story about someone who couldn’t walk in Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Let’s listen as Luke tells the story to us…
“Behold, some men were bringing on a bed a man who was paralyzed, seeking to lay him before Jesus, but finding no way in (to the house where Jesus was speaking) because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down with his bed through the tiles. When Jesus saw their faith, he said, ‘Man, your sins are forgiven you’” (Luke 5:18-20).
At this point in the story, the scribes and Pharisees question Jesus’ ability to forgive sins. Jesus, to provide evidence of his authority from God to forgive, says to the paralyzed man, “I say to you, rise, pick up your bed and go home.” And he does!
There are numerous lessons we can take from this story. 1 – How the Jewish leaders stubbornly resist the evidence Jesus provides to them of who he is, looking for petty things to discount him. We should not be so stubborn and resistant; we need to objectively see the evidence. 2 – How Jesus knows our real needs, and its often deeper than the physical need we are focused on. This man’s real need was to be forgiven of his sins. Jesus addressed that first. So, what is our greatest need, really? 3 – How Jesus has compassion on those with ailments and hurts, as he heals. It’s certainly true, but we should not lose sight of the primary purpose, to prove who he is. 4 – I’d like for us to look at the men who bring this paralytic to Jesus, what can we learn from them?
Oddly, these men are not named, no spotlight is cast on them. Luke merely says, “some men” brought the paralytic to Jesus. But did you notice what Luke says that is worth our attention? “When Jesus saw their faith, he said…” Usually it’s the faith of the person being healed that is mentioned, but in this case it’s the faith of the paralytic’s friends! In days when those that were lame were marginalized, when they were pushed to the side, when most didn’t want to deal with them thinking they were guilty of some-thing that resulted in their problems, this man had friends who stood by him! These were some men!
So, let us consider, is there someone we know who is hurting, maybe struggling with a physical malady, that has been marginalized, pushed to the side? One of the toughest parts of being disabled, I’m told, is the stepping-back of family and friends. It’s not that they don’t care, they just don’t know what to do, it makes them feel uncomfortable, unsure of how to include the person. And so, they don’t. You can imagine how this impacts the disabled man or woman. Now, on top of their disability, they have a sense of isolation, of disconnection. It can be depressing and demotivating. As we talk about discipleship afoot, look for someone whose feet don’t work (or has some disability), reach out to them, figure out how to include them. A miraculous healing may not occur in this life. But with faith in Jesus, one day they will hear him say, “Stand up and walk!” Meanwhile, travel with them in life’s journey.
Cross Point: “He immediately arose, picked up his bed, and went home, glorifying God. Amazement seized them all, and they glorified God, saying, ‘We have seen extraordinary things today!’” (Luke 5:25, 26)