Who Patched the Roof?
Meditation August 12, 2007 by Karen L. Oberst
This morning I'm going to tell you a story about some friends who, well, make a hole in a roof.
There are also other characters in the story: Jesus, his disciples, the crowd outside, the religious leaders inside, and a lame man.
A little background. First, because this is above all a healing story, keep in mind that in Jesus' day people considered illness to be the result of sin. As we shall see, the lame or paralyzed man in this story was very aware of that.
This takes place fairly early in Jesus ministry. He has been out teaching and healing, and now has come back into his home territory. Besides the usual crowds of learners, miracle-seekers and others, what we might call the local ministerial association has come out to see Jesus. They are in the house with him, while the hoi polloi are outside. Reading between the lines, it seems clear that these religious leaders have come to judge Jesus - to either put their seal of approval on his ministry or nip it in the bud.
So here's the scene: Jesus and a few of his disciples are in the house with the ministerial association. Crowds wait outside the house for Jesus - crowds who absolutely surround the house, blocking every entrance. Into this scene come some friends who are carrying a lame friend on a pallet. How are they going to get their lame friend to the man who can help him?
I have paraphrased this story, telling it from the point of view of one of the disciples inside.
So here goes:
|We are inside a small sun-baked brick house. Jesus is talking to the local religious leaders, while crowds hang around outside, straining their ears. We disciples are a little nervous, because if these leaders don't like what Jesus is saying, it could hurt his career. He, however, seems perfectly at ease.
A little dust drifts by his face, and I glance up. More dust is coming down, and alarmed, I look to Jesus. Far from being worried, the corner of his mouth twitches in a little smile and his eyes start to twinkle. More and more dust floats down, disturbing the religious leaders, until everybody is gazing up at the ceiling. Then suddenly - daylight! - as a brick is removed. The hole grows quickly larger, and we see a four faces peer down into the room. Grinning widely, Jesus nods, and the faces disappear, replaced by something solid and rectangular. As it drops lower, I can now see a pallet on which a man is lying. Jesus' grin turns to a look of compassion as he sees the twisted limbs and I know there must have been some terrible sin somewhere for this to happen. On Jesus' other side, the religious leaders are muttering about the gall of interrupting their meeting. When I look back, I see a look on the lame man's face that is a mixture of apology, shame, and pleading.
I step forward, expecting to see a miracle like many I have seen before, but instead, Jesus takes the man's hand, smiles into his eyes, and says, "Cheer up, my friend! Your sins are forgiven." Unbelieving joy floods the thin, pinched face, and the muttering among the religious leaders turns ugly. It's easy enough to guess what they are thinking: "Blasphemy! Blasphemy"'
Jesus knows it too, and stiffens slightly as he turns to them "Tell me," he demands. "why are you determined to think the worst?" When they give no reply, he goes on "Then tell me this - is it easier to say 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say 'Get up and walk?'" They don't answer that one either. After all, how can you answer a question like that? "Fine," the Master says. "You believe I'm setting myself up as God? Let me demonstrate my authority" Turning to the man on the pallet, he ordered, "Get up, friend!"
Without the slightest hesitation, the man strengthened his grip on Jesus' hand, and never taking his eyes from that kind face, he swung his legs over the side and stood.
"Now pick up that pallet that has carried you for so long, and walk into your new life."
The man nodded, his eyes and the light on his face saying his thanks for him. With an incredible glowing smile to his friends above him, he danced from the room.
Jesus also looked up at them and smiled approvingly. "He was cured because of your faith," he told them, and in wonder, they leap up to go find their friend.
Then Jesus looked at the religious leaders. "Do you understand what just happened?" he asked. "Do you know what you have seen?"
We disciples did. Jesus, our Master, has authority over sickness, over demons, over wind and wave - and over sin. Never was there anyone else like him. Never.
Now it's your turn. You've heard the story as a disciple in the first century might have seen it. What did you like best about the story?
What to you is the most important thing about the story?
Who are you in the story? Are you one of the ministerial association ready to judge? Are you a disciple of Jesus? Are you a friend leading someone you care for to the one who can heal them? Are you the one in need of healing? Are you part of the crowd outside eager to see what is going on? Or are you the homeowner wondering just who is going to help you fix your roof?
In your bulletin is a blank piece of paper. Be creative with it. Draw a picture, write a poem, doodle, do whatever comes to mind. Think about who you are in the story, how the story made you feel - whatever is in your mind and heart. If you would like to share out of the silence, please do so. Share your thoughts with a friend if that feels righter. Or keep them between you and God.
My Christ our present teacher speak to your heart in this time of meditation.