Luke 5:24b-26 (CEV)
Jesus then said to the man, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk home.”
25 At once the man stood up in front of everyone. He picked up his mat and went home, giving thanks to God. 26 Everyone was amazed and praised God. What they saw surprised them, and they said, “We have seen a great miracle today!”
Back in January I had the chance to take my eldest down to New York City. They’re a huge musical theatre fan, and so we planned to spend four days and three nights in New York, and take in three shows. We had tickets to two shows, one of which was excellent, and one of which was only hum-drum, in my opinion, but then, by some incredible stroke of luck and perseverance, we were able to get tickets to see the show ‘Hamilton’. And in a city that is known for it’s amazing performances, we were not the only people in the audience who were amazed by this show. In a city that thrives on creativity and the element of surprise, we were not the only ones who were completely surprised by what we saw. In an auditorium full of more privilege and wealth than we had probably ever sat amongst, we were not the only ones who went home feeling like we had been privileged to get to witness such a marvelous artistic achievement.
Apparently there were other itinerant preachers around in Jesus’ day. Others who went around teaching and making claims about themselves. My guess is that some of them were pretty lame, but you know, if you live in a backwater village with no cable or cell phone coverage, I guess any entertainment is better than nothing. Some of them might have been great speakers, or had really interesting things to say. But apparently none of them had ever done the kind of thing that Jesus did here.
This healing wasn’t just someone with a headache. This wasn’t just someone with a hang nail. It wasn’t even someone walking with a limp. No, this guy was stuck on a mat. This guy was likely paralyzed, or otherwise incapable of using his limbs. Maybe this guy had never spoken clearly before, or never had control of his bowels or bladder. This guy was the real-deal “disabled”. He was the one that everyone knew couldn’t be healed.
Until Jesus does it.
Until Jesus performs the miracle that nobody thought could be done.
Until Jesus turns to this guy – almost incidentally to his conversation with the Pharisees – and tells him to stand up, pick up his things and walk out.
Don’t let the fact that you’ve read this before dull your amazement. Don’t let the fact that you know that of course Jesus can heal people make you less aware of the surprise of this miracle. Don’t let your comfort allow you to miss the privilege of looking in on this moment through Luke’s eyes.
Because if we do, we miss out on part of Jesus’ character. We miss out on the fact that when the Kingdom of God begins to break in, it’s going to surprise us, it’s going to amaze us, it’s going to leave us feeling like we have been privy to an incredible privilege. We miss out on learning that when the Holy Spirit shows up it will be more than we could ever have asked for or imagined.
- Can you think of a time when God has shown up and surprised you?
- What did you think would happen?
- What actually happened?
- Do you tend to expect little things from God, or big things?
- If you tend to expect little things, how do you think you’d respond if something big were to take place?
- What holds you back from expecting big things?
- If you tend to expect big things, how do you respond when they take place?
- Are you able to stop and take notice of just how big this thing God just did is?