Word spread like yeast through dough that the most notorious man in the region was coming to my home. Men poured in from across the land. I am certain I saw the seams of the house pull against each other, struggling to hold together. Soon, bodies wedged into the room until air was forced out. The small portals on each wall protested, refusing to admit any refreshing breeze. But I did not mind.
All of us wanted to hear what he would say, so we sat, ankles crossed, knees held to our chest, layering ourselves in tight rows across the expanse of the den. When the house could hold no more, men gathered outside in the street and surrounded the house. Coming close that day would take great determination and creativity.
I am certain a great number came because of stories they had heard about the Rabbi; but many Pharisees and teachers of the law were in attendance, looking for opportunity to prove He was a fraud. They showed up early, wanting the best seats. Whenever He opened His mouth controversy flew about, chasing down the truths He presented. This in itself was something to behold, especially when the Pharisees tried to put Him in His place.
Once everyone was situated where the Rabbi could be heard, He began to teach. I cannot remember what He said. The remaining air in the room adopted invisible lightning rods causing the hairs on my arms and neck to become as needles stabbing me. Something was different. I think others felt it too. A murmur rippled through the men behind me. The unseen power hovering around me was so great I trembled, almost fearful of what I could not see.
When His gaze connected with mine, my thrashing heart settled. He swept the room with a glance, returning to pierce me with His wait for it smirk. Wait for what? No matter how I tried to imagine what He might be up to, I came up empty.
I reached up to brush a pool of sweat from my neck, and a clump of clay dropped onto my head. I looked toward the ceiling. More fell into my face. Scratching, digging, and what sounded like overgrown rodents skittered across my roof. More clay dropped. Men brushed dirt from their tunics, grumbling. The Rabbi continued to teach as though He heard nothing, and then He stepped back. Never once did He pause to address the disturbance.
Before my mind could comprehend His movement, a bed came through my roof. Men pushed backwards to make room, brushing debris from their hair and clothes. I watched four men, peering down, guide a rope attached to the mattress. The low tones they used to communicate hummed.They did not deter the Rabbi from His speech.
Soon, there was a man lying on my floor staring up into the hole he had just come through. The Rabbi looked at him, smiled, and said, “Son, your sins are forgiven you.”
Now, this was all it took for the room to erupt with coughs and throat gurgles. No one has authority to forgive sins but Adonai alone. Who does this man think he is? He’s a good teacher and all, but to assume the authority of Adonai? I don’t think so. Maybe the Pharisees have some valid issue …
“Why do you reason about these things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise, take up your bed and walk?’ But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins …”
My heart burned at His words. The Rabbi returned his attention to the man, His voice soothing, like ointment. “Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.”
Immediately, the man obeyed. He was on his feet and carrying his bed out my door.
I am not surprised that Rabbi Jesus healed the man. He does that all the time. But to forgive the man, and then that forgiveness unshackle his body? Astounding! I have never seen anything like it before. Of course, the Pharisees left sputtering something about traps and Beelzebub.
Now, two years later, Rabbi Jesus is more controversial. In fact, while visiting in Bethany, I saw Him again. The crowds were in an uproar. He had called Lazarus from his tomb.
Luke 5: 17 – 26 NKJV
Mark 2: 1 – 12 NKJV
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