by Brittney Chan
Behold, the eye of the Lord is…upon them that hope in his mercy;
I’ve been struggling with this thought for a while and I don’t think it’s because I don’t have anything to say. It’s the exact opposite. I want to be careful and make sure that I approach this one in the right way. So let’s dive into Scripture and see where it takes us!
Lately, I’ve been feasting on the story of the man crippled with palsy, whose bed was lowered down to Jesus through a rooftop. He makes his appearance on the stage of the Gospels in Matthew 9, Mark 2 and Luke 5. Most of you already know this saga.
Jesus returned through Capernaum’s coast and people started getting word that He was back in town. Fathers sent their sons running through the dusty streets to see if the rumors were true. Women in the marketplace huddled under canvas tents to whisper among themselves that the man who’d been calling followers, cleansing lepers and casting out devils had come back home. The religious leaders shuffled around to gather their scrolls and hurried to sit under the sound of Jesus’s voice. The crowds started to gather around the house He occupied because they were hungry to hear His teaching and to witness His wonders.
About this time, the chit chat entered the ears of a paralytic’s four friends. Maybe it started as an idea in one man’s head and he got the other three on board. Or maybe they’d been planning this for a while, saying: “The next time Jesus is in town, we’re going to see if He can heal so-and-so.” Nevertheless, they got together, each grabbed a corner of the cot and they took their companion towards the town’s hot spot.
Now, history tells us that housing in this region was not very similar to American architecture today. We pride ourselves on our gated suburbs, privacy fences and dwellings enclosed by two stories of sheetrock. In that context, can you imagine climbing up to the rooftop and ripping off enough shingles and boards to slide a stretcher through? Negative. Houses back then were all built alike and were normally two or three small rooms scattered around a courtyard. The culture of that day really encouraged community and so, Jesus was probably staying in a house with Peter, Andrew and their families while He was there. The tops of houses were made of tree branches, crisscrossed and held together by different earthly elements. It’s likely that creating a hole in this kind of covering wasn’t a hard thing to do!
On that day, the rooms were full of folks. The courtyard was crowded. But with this idea of the rooftop in mind, it’s easy to see why these friends thought dropping in through the ceiling was a good solution. And Jesus didn’t seem to mind the interruption, either. Had He been teaching on the need for forgiveness of sins? Was His focus about having a great faith? Either way, the perfect illustration had literally just fallen down from the sky.
And it was obvious to anyone there why this man was brought before Jesus. People could see…they probably already knew his story and who he was. For some time, this man’s independence and functions were limited by his palsy. Of course he wanted to be healed…to be “normal”…to be free… A touch from Jesus could cause his atrophied muscles to regain their usefulness. He yearned for the dignity that would come from gaining his own autonomy. Were these thoughts bombarding his mind as he laid in front of the Messiah? Imagine the man’s excitement as Jesus opened His mouth…pay attention now…and healed what was hidden.
Oh, the uproar! The audacity this Nazarene had to proclaim that the paralytic’s sins were forgiven! But you know, my Jesus has a way of showing up and doing the unexpected. They thought they were just in for another miracle, but the Son of God had something else in mind. Over and over, throughout the Gospels, He let people know that He was more concerned with what was hidden in the dark crevices of their heart than what was blatantly evident on the outside.
Read that again! Because understanding this simple thing is the key. to. revival!
The story continues and is a landmark in Jesus’s ministry. This is the moment when He declares: Hey! I’m not just here to heal people! I am THE GREAT I AM! I can do it all. I am enough! My biggest desire is to offer redemption to the sin you think no one else can see.
And friend, that has not changed.
The things that cripple us today may or may not be visible to other people. Those hurts can be tucked deep away in our hearts. The abuse can be swept under the rug. You can tidy your life up and present yourself to others like you’ve never faced a problem a day in your life. Maybe you strive hard to keep the anxiety at bay. No one else knows about the times when suicide was all you could think about. They don’t see the struggles and addictions that you can’t get away from. Or maybe they do. Maybe people know about the mistakes you’ve made and all you know now is shame.
I need you to hear something: Jesus empathizes with the very things that have broken you. He not only understands where you are, He wants to offer you hope for what you’ve been hiding.
Luke tells us that the crowd left, saying: We have seen strange things this day! In other words, they were recognizing that what they’d just witnessed exceeded the expectations they had come with. That’s my God! He makes it a habit to go beyond what we could ever ask for or think! (Ephesians 3:20) And the great thing is you don’t have to wait for the next church service to be in His presence. You can open your heart up to Him right now. This is all about you and Jesus. Nobody else. I dare you to uncover those hidden things and let the sweet counsel of the Holy Spirit heal you today.