Which is Easier?

Jesus got into a boat and crossed back over to the town where he lived. Some people soon brought to him a crippled man lying on a mat. When Jesus saw how much faith they had, he said to the crippled man, “My friend, don’t worry! Your sins are forgiven.” Some teachers of the Law of Moses said to themselves, “Jesus must think he is God!”

But Jesus knew what was in their minds, and he said, “Why are you thinking such evil things? Is it easier for me to tell this crippled man that his sins are forgiven or to tell him to get up and walk? But I will show you that the Son of Man has the right to forgive sins here on earth.” So Jesus said to the man, “Get up! Pick up your mat and go on home.” The man got up and went home. When the crowds saw this, they were afraid and praised God for giving such authority to people.      Matthew 9:1-8 (CEV)

As a nurse this story has always intrigued me. Some versions identify the man as “paralized”. Today we would say he had a “disability” or a “challenge”. Was he paralized from birth? Was he mobile as a child and sustained a spinal injury later in his life? Whatever was, the man was now dependent on others to move him, possibly care for his most basic needs. In this time in history, people with his challenges often led lives of isolation. This man had people who cared. In Mark’s gospel (Mark 2) they are identified as four friends. His friends wanted more for him. They heard about Jesus. Rumors. Stories from others who had met Jesus. Jesus was their Mayo Clinic or Johns Hopkins. He was the only option that might help. Others, many others, had the same idea for their family and friends. Anyone who could find a way had come to see this teacher, possible miracle man. Was He real?

I wonder what would have happened if the friends had seen the crowd around Jesus and decided to give up? Or maybe they had an opportunity to make a few dollars in a job that day. Or maybe they would miss lunch and dinner. Their friend was not their “priority”. You can only do so much for someone!

They decided they would do whatever it took. In Mark and Luke’s (Luke 5) gospels, Jesus is inside a home when men come with a paralized man. The friends decide to make a hole in the roof of the house and drop the man down. That takes guts! I do not believe that making a hole in someone’s roof is acceptable in any society! And then there is the safety factor of dropping the invalid or falling themselves. But faith and desperation makes you do unexpected things. And God responds to our desperation.

The friends want Jesus to heal their friend but Jesus doesn’t respond with a “little” blessing. Jesus doesn’t simply heal the body. That would be a temporal answer and Jesus is all about eternal answers.

Too often I ask God with a timid voice and desire. And yet like a wonderful father, He responds with what I need not the superficial want. It’s a good thing that God has that perspective. I would never dare to say: “God, I need You to provide the perfect blood sacrifice to cover all the sins I have committed. Would You come hang on a cross and die for me? Oh – and then when You have that covered would You prepare a paradise where we can live together forever? And in the mean time, give me an example to show me how to live until I get to that paradise?” No, I would not have the guts to ask God for that. I’d just ask for little things like health and a long life. After all, for God to give me health and a long life here on earth takes only a word or thought. To live eternally with Him cost Jesus’ blood. Which was easier?

God is still wants to bless us BIG while we still ask for less. Listen! Learn! Allow God to change our focus and improve our sight.

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