There is a clear principle in most of what Jesus did and taught that we would do well to pay more attention to, and wouldn’t we love to hear its liberating simplicity promoted in more churches? But let’s hear it from the lips of one who benefitted from it first hand:
‘There was talk in our village of this itinerant preacher who people say can heal the sick, even raise the dead by a word or a touch. My legs have been paralyzed since I was a child and so if I needed to travel into the village I had some good friends and family who would carry me.
‘Like most of my neighbours, I was curious about this man they call Jesus coming to our village, intrigued as to why would he come to insignificant little Capernaum? And could the stories about him really be true?
‘It would be like a festival, especially if our religious leaders turn up, for I heard that the sparks would fly.
‘So I had asked four of my friends to bring me into the village, and they agreed. One of them in particular, my cousin Haim, was determined that I should meet the ‘celebrity’, but I wasn’t at all keen. It would be embarrassing, for how could anyone heal me? I would be a laughing stock; I mean my legs haven’t worked since I broke my back, they never would. But Haim insisted, and there wasn’t a thing I could do about it.
‘When we saw the crowds gathered around the house where Jesus was staying I was relieved, for there was no way they could squeeze me through all those people, but Haim had his mind set, and they carried me up the stairs on the outside of the house and on to the roof, and then they began poking a hole in it, big enough to lower me through. I couldn’t believe it!
‘I kept saying, “Boys, would you stop this nonsense? Who’s going to fix this roof?” But Haim would hear nothing of it. I think he had met Jesus once before. His brother was one of the preacher’s followers and he claims to have been in the room when an old woman who had been in a coma for ages simply woke up when Jesus spoke to her, but I didn’t believe a word of it.’
‘However, within a couple of minutes there was I, lying on the floor, right in front of the great man. Now I have done some terrible things in my life, things I wouldn’t tell anyone about, but he looked deep into my eyes and said: “Young man, your sins are forgiven.” It was as if he knew everything I had ever done, and as he looked at me I felt a love and a serenity I’ve never known before. I knew I was forgiven, and the amazing thing is that I didn’t even ask, and I didn’t believe he could heal me.
‘Then he said something that I shall never forget: “Stand up, pick up your mat, and go home!” And I knew I could, so I got up, never again to need to be carried around.’
Gospel preachers often present a list of conditions to those who want to know the Father’s forgiveness, and yet this paralyzed man joins a long list of people in the New Testament who were healed or forgiven without asking or believing.
Could it be that when John Baptist announced, ‘Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!’ that included you and me, before we asked or believed?