17 One day when Jesus was teaching, Pharisees and legal experts were sitting nearby. They had come from every village in Galilee and Judea, and from Jerusalem. Now the power of the Lord was with Jesus to heal. 18 Some men were bringing a man who was paralyzed, lying on a cot. They wanted to carry him in and place him before Jesus, 19 but they couldn’t reach him because of the crowd. So they took him up on the roof and lowered him—cot and all—through the roof tiles into the crowded room in front of Jesus. 20 When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.”
21 The legal experts and Pharisees began to mutter among themselves, “Who is this who insults God? Only God can forgive sins!”
22 Jesus recognized what they were discussing and responded, “Why do you fill your minds with these questions? 23 Which is easier—to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? 24 But so that you will know that the Human One[a] has authority on the earth to forgive sins” —Jesus now spoke to the man who was paralyzed, “I say to you, get up, take your cot, and go home.” 25 Right away, the man stood before them, picked up his cot, and went home, praising God.
26 All the people were beside themselves with wonder. Filled with awe, they glorified God, saying, “We’ve seen unimaginable things today.”
Jesus heals the lame, but still the Pharisees chastise his words and ways. However they measured Jesus, he was not the king they had expected. Perhaps the Pharisees could not believe what they had seen because they had spent far too much time trying to prove that Jesus was not who he said he was. Perhaps Jesus challenged their traditions so much so that they just refused to open their hearts and minds to God’s work, alive and right in front of them.
God’s ways are unimaginable. In reality, God’s power and grace could not be contained in the small ideas that the Pharisees had created. So Jesus was instead labeled a blasphemer–a rebel who upended the status quo.
I am always fascinated by what motivates people’s thoughts and actions. I wonder about how the Pharisees thought as they did, as well as how we think of and witness God’s immeasurable ways in the world today.
So how might the world be different if those in power were less afraid of those with different ideas and solutions? How might we cast doubt on those who upend the status quo?Furthermore, in today’s world, do we see everyone as always deserving of God’s love and grace, or only the select few that fit the label we know? Sure people may be skeptical, but maybe our skepticism changes our thinking so that we think we must know all about where God fits. Yet God’s power and grace exist far beyond the measurements we can ever give. While we create a hole or space into which we fit our god, God’s love and grace lives in indescribable ways. Our Lord lives instead within the spaces and places beyond our wildest measure.
by Barbara Carlson
For Pondering & Prayer
How have you found people limiting God’s love and grace in the world? When you find someone whose ideas about God are different from your own, how do you react? What do you say or do?
Gracious God, your ways are not our own. Humanly, we often limit your love and grace, saving it for ourselves or those that fit in the boxes that we know. Help us to share your love and grace freely with all others that we met. Amen.