It’s only a few days now until we fly to visit our, wonderful, can hardly wait to see you, son in Pasadena. Are we looking forward to the journey? Not really. Will the no sleep night, the mountain of “official” paperwork to be collated, the preparing luggage labels, the hassle of the airport to be survived, the length of the flight, and more, be worth it? Absolutely!100% And all this as a reminder that sometimes, as we wait for that “welcome home” embrace, we need to lift our eyes off the mess of the journey, and fix our eyes on Him the author and finisher of our faith.
Anyway, of late I’ve been reading through the gospel of Matthew where in chapter 9 there is a shorter account of Jesus healing a paralytic man as also told in Mark chapter 2. As I’ve thought about this story afresh, which has always served as a visual to me of what prayer is : a bringing to Jesus those who can’t make it on their own : some new thoughts came to me.
What I never noticed in my reading of this before is we are told that the story takes place in Jesus’ hometown. I wonder, had He passed by the man on the mat previously? I imagine He would have. Why then had he not healed him before? Had the man not asked? Possibly not, as I think because, as we often read in the accounts of healings in the gospel of Matthew, He waits for the sick to come to Him. And I both love and am amazed by that. Always, I believe, God is a perfect gentleman and thought the Faithful One who is both the Creator and the Holder is the stars, He waits for us to ask Him to enter our lives to do what only He can do.
And then I wondered about the men who carried their friend to Jesus. They also must have previously known Him simply as the carpenter’s son. And although it as not recorded, I think somewhere along the way they must have recently met with Jesus, now as the Messiah. Why? Because it seems to me that they were willing to go to extraordinary lengths to get their friend to the feet of Jesus. And this thought really challenged me. Am I so excited about my meeting with Jesus the Messiah that I will go to any length to bring people to His feet, mindful that Jesus, seeing the faith of the men, healed the man on the mat? Am I willing to step outside the boundaries of my norm, even disruptingly break through roofs, to bring people I care about, to Him?
When Jesus saw their faith, He said to to paralytic, “….take heart son, your sins are forgiven……Get up, take your mat and go home. And the man got up and went home.” Matthew 9:2+6
I also noticed that when the friends got through the roof to lay their friend at Jesus’s feet, mindful that in Matthew 6:9 Jesus instruct us to say “Thy will be done,” and admonishes us in James 4:3 by saying “you have not ’cause you ask not,” even so with these friends there was no pleading, no asking, just a trusting that Jesus would do the best for their friend. And I’m also challenged by this to bring folk to Jesus and leave the outcome, and even the timing of the answers up to Him.”
Oh, there is so much held within this wee story, but the last thought I’d like to share is where the man was brought…to the feet of Jesus...Over and over in the gospel of Matthew we read of people kneeling at His feet, touching the hem of His garment, bowing before Him And I think too often I forget that my position before God needs to be likewise, that of bowing before Him, and with humility making note of His awesomeness, His authority. I guess, like a challenge repeatedly shared by Mark Labberton, President at Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, as he preaches to the students this academic year on the theme of the fear of the Lord being the beginning of all wisdom…
“Am I willing to allow my fear of the Lord, my acknowledgment of Him as Lord over all, to recast, recalibrate, all my thinking and actions?” M. Labberton
And lastly, further on in Matthew chapter 17 we read the story of Jesus’ transfiguration the mountaintop and Peter, bless him, instead of being awed and silent in the presence of Moses, Elijah and Jesus, decides to interrupt their conversation, (ahem Alison, note to self, remember, listen more and speak less!) and thus, albeit it unintentional, Peter tries to make it more about him than them.
Do I do that? All the time…All the time I forget to be still in this present moment in order to be awed by my Saviour. All the time I fail to take the time to let thoughts marinade until they become part of me so that I then have no choice but to share the wondrous things He has done with others.
But I’m learning. I’m getting there!
And so we pray,
Father, you who are God, Holy, above all other gods, we ask you forgiveness for when we “rush” in your presence, for when we fail to take the time to be awed by who you are. Thank you that the invite to come weary, come laden, and lay down at your feet is ever present to us all. As we travel through the messes of our lives, as we wait for our “welcome home” arrival at heavens gates, give us wisdom not only to be patient in our own journeying but also with our fellow travellers, some of whose company we might not of our selves chose. Remind us to daily come empty so that we can then be filled with you so that when others bump into us, it’s you, not us which overflows. Stir up such a joy, and excitement within us, of meeting with you as our Messiah that we will then go to extraordinary lengths to bring others to your feet. And all this we pray in Jesus name. Amen.
Yours in Him,