Luke 5: 12 – 16
While Jesus was in one of the towns, a man came along who was covered with leprosy. When he saw Jesus, he fell with his face to the ground and begged him, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” And immediately the leprosy left him. Then Jesus ordered him, “Don’t tell anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them.” Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.
It was prohibited by Moses (as the law was attributed to him) to touch lepers and if you did then you made yourself unclean and had to go see a priest to be made clean. Clearly Jesus knew that that what was in him was more powerful than any natural or spiritual force that he would encounter, so rather than being contaminated by the man he made him clean! Working every day in the kingdom, often with spectacular results. puts a lot of pressure on one’s ego. So getting away regularly to pray alone was so necessary for Jesus and too for us.
Getting away to pray… this Lent we are already praying multiple times a day but only briefly with traditional, rich, formulaic prayers. This silent listening prayer is the aim for noon. There is a call here to be turning to God regularly, beyond the “being in his presence” and “walking by the spirit.” This blend of connection and doing is a blessing but we need more direct contact, chasing after our Abba, or Jesus, as we are pulled and called. Think on these things…
Noon Day Prayers Question
Jesus walked in trust with his Abba, filled by the Spirit. He was not afraid of what terrified others – demons and illnesses. In our day we too are afraid of many things though we also walk in trust with Jesus, with Abba, and are conscious of the indwelling Spirit. As you surrender now to God, ask yourself and God, what fear to I need to surrender to you that I may walk in the freedom of trust? Let this question continue to resonate in you as the Spirit, in love, draws you towards truth and freedom.
Luke 5: 17 – 26
One day Jesus was teaching, and Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there. They had come from every village of Galilee and from Judea and Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was with Jesus to heal the sick. Some men came carrying a paralyzed man on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus. When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus. When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.”
The Pharisees and the teachers of the law began thinking to themselves, “Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” Jesus knew what they were thinking and asked, “Why are you thinking these things in your hearts? Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the paralyzed man, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” Immediately he stood up in front of them, took what he had been lying on and went home praising God. Everyone was amazed and gave praise to God. They were filled with awe and said, “We have seen remarkable things today.”
What do you do when a charismatic healer arrives with a new teaching and a new authority? If you were a religious leader of the time, invested in everything you had taught and believed, Jesus would likely have been a threat. For our ways are human ways and God’s ways will always be different. Any new prophet, teacher or healer who comes with grace and power will turn your faith on its head. So it was then and so it would be today. However, if you are simply in need of teaching or healing, then the proof is in the pudding. God is clearly with Jesus as he heals, exorcises and performs miracles. As you take his teaching to heart, you too might feel called to get up and follow him.
Jesus had realized that all that God had given His chosen people through Moses was available through him, the new Moses. God granted His people forgiveness of their sins through temple sacrifice and God granted His people forgiveness of their sins through Jesus’ direct intervention, as in the case of this paralytic. He had compassion for this man bound tightly by his sin and with authority first released him from the bondage of his sin and then the accrued consequences of it by releasing him into the wholeness God had created him to enjoy. This display of power was so overwhelming that in the moment there could be no contention from those whose faith was being turned on its head.
Heavenly Father, dear Abba, give us grace to hear your word and to be transformed. Give us grace to allow you to change our minds, to put our faith in your living word within us, rather than simply in human traditions. We ask this in Jesus’ name, Amen.