Tuesday, October 7, 2014

In a Hole in a Roof: Luke 5

In Summary: Luke 5 gives us a few quick hits:

1. We see the calling of the first disciples. This shows us Jesus as master of the fish of the sea…and Peter as cognizant of his own sinfulness.

2. We see the compassion of Jesus on the leper. 5:12 shows the leper express “if you are willing,” recognizing that Jesus has power. The leper simply wants to know His character.

3. We see the calling of a tax collector named Levi. Matthew gives us his other name as “Matthew,” and we see the connection. Why is it relevant? Tax collectors are societal outcasts, just as they were then. This shows us that Jesus accepted those who were outcast by convention as much as He did those outcast by their sin. He drew in those alienated from humanity and those alienated from God.

4. We see the disciples and Jesus feasting, rather than fasting. There is a time for both. Weep that Christ had to die for you, but celebrate that He is risen! He is risen indeed!

5. We see Jesus pointing out that times change, and once one gets over the shock, the new is seen as much better than the old.

In Focus: The center of the chapter is our focus for the day. Jesus is teaching. For once, it appears that the Pharisees and the teachers of the law are listening to Him. Yet during this teaching time, some friends bring a paralyzed man to Jesus to be healed.

We do not see a clear reason why they could not bring the man through the crowd. Perhaps the crowd was being rude. Perhaps the crowd was just so focused on Jesus that they did not notice the men carrying the stretcher. Whatever the case may be, the men are blocked. They then neither hesitate nor evacuate, but go to the roof and get the paralyzed man in front of Jesus. Their compassion takes the shape of a hole in a roof.

From Jesus’ reaction, we see that He has no argument with their actions. In fact, Luke records that it is “their” faith that Jesus saw before healing the man. That ties together the belief of the paralytic and his friends. Jesus goes on to make a significant point about His authority to forgive sin, one of His claims to Godhood, and His ability to heal.

In Practice: Let us take a moment in practice, though, to think about compassion that takes the shape of a hole in a roof. Consider all those you know who have need, and then stretch it out further. Consider those who you have heard of, and those you see mentioned in passing in the wide, wide world.

The reality is that the way is blocked for many of the good things we would do to help those around us. We know, as Christians, that one thing everyone needs is their sins forgiven, and only Jesus can do that. Beyond that, whether their need is healing or resurrection or hope, it all comes from the same One who can forgive.

What are we willing to do to get folks into the presence of Jesus? How many times do we stop because there’s a crowd in the way? Maybe it’s the crowds at our churches that keep us happy, slowing our effort to reach a lost world. Maybe it is the crowd of the wider world that pretends an interest in Christ, all the while blocking the one or two who would truly respond.

Maybe it is our own lack of faith. We do not trust that He can. Maybe it is our lack of creativity.

Maybe it’s just an unwillingness to cut holes in roofs, for fear that someone will get upset that we kicked up dust. But I will tell you this: the need has never been greater that others hear the Word, have their sins forgiven, and their lives healed.

Get out the saws and chisels, folks, because the doors are blocked. It’s time to cut our way in.

In Nerdiness: First, of course, is a bit of architecture. Houses had flat roofs, so it was an easy access.

Second, consider what this meant for the friends who cut the hole. They had to fix it.

Third, consider that the access-blocking crowd probably had their sermon time interrupted. Are we okay with that?

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