Luke 5:17-20

One day, while he was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting nearby (they had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem); and the power of the Lord was with him to heal.

Just then some men came, carrying a paralyzed man on a bed. They were trying to bring him in and lay him before Jesus; but finding no way to bring him in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down with his bed through the tiles into the middle of the crowd in front of Jesus.

When he saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven you.” Luke 5:17-20

Many years ago there was a television show called “The Muppet Show.” I’m remembering that show now because, whatever Kermit the Frog and his friends were doing on the stages, there were two grouchy old men sitting in the wings criticizing everything. Their roles today are played by the Pharisees and teachers of the law.

You and I know that they were there with one eye on Jesus and the other eye on the crowd. And their primary concern wasn’t the rightness/wrongness of what Jesus was up to but it was their desire to maintain their control and influence over the crowd. They only cared about power and they masked that true desire with feigned concern over the purity of the law.

They might have been religious leaders but their hypocrisy is symptomatic of every shrewd leader who learns how to manipulate their followers to keep their Dear Leader in power.

At this point, Jesus ignores them. His attention is drawn to the commotion above his head as some men dig through the roof to let their paralyzed friend down into Jesus’ midst.

Those men aren’t mindful of the Pharisees or teachers of the law either. They are hoping against hope that Jesus might be the answer to their friend’s pain. The disruption they bring isn’t violent or coercive, but it is desperate.

When Jesus sees what they are doing he says, “Friend, your sins are forgiven you.”

WHAT? Their SINS are FORGIVEN??? Without a trip to the temple? Without the scapegoat of Yom Kippur? Without a carefully crafted speech begging for mercy? Without the blessing of the Pharisees or any other purveyor of God’s gracious love?

Yes, without any of that.

All the Jesus saw in them was their faith that Jesus could help as they sought to love their neighbor. Welcome to the kindom of God.

Let us pray: Dear Lord, in these days of division and disease, we need both the centered principles of your love and the healing touch of your hand. Bless all those who work tirelessly in the healing ministries of life. Encourage us to ignore the critics and those who lust only for power. And, when we are the ones who are hurting, bring friends into our midst who can help. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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