Lesson Thirty Nine
JESUS, THE FRIEND OF SINNERS
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Imagine you are paralyzed. While you try to maintain some level of contentment, it’s obvious that if there was a way to be restored, you’d go for it. Then you hear of a Teacher who heals. He touches people and they are made whole. And He lives in your town!
As you contemplate this, you also remember how things got this way. The paralysis was brought on by your own circumstances. It was that foolish, I-can-do-it-myself, live-as-I-want, God-will-understand, pride that got you here. As hard as it is to admit, you’re a sinner. Yet as you lay there, the sense of urgency to see this Teacher and be healed grows.
The sense of urgency to see this Teacher and be healed grows.
The Teacher has returned! Immediately you begin to plan how to reach Him. Fortunately, there are four friends willing to take you. Willing to work through the crowd. Willing to use creative solutions. And now, here you are, having descended through the roof, laying at the feet of the One who can make you walk again. Looking up expectantly, you hear Him say: “Your sins are forgiven” (Mark 2:5). And, strangely, you’re still paralyzed, but it’s enough.
While we can try to imagine what it might be to be paralyzed with no control, we really don’t know how it feels. Or do we?
This past week hasn’t been a good one. I had two different work situations and one within our family that caused an amazing amount of frustration. The work situations were ones with which I disagreed but had no control. The family one, I could have done something, but it would not have been appropriate. All three happened one after another, so it felt like a pile-on. None were life-threatening, but enough to bring some tears of frustration because I had no ability to fix them. I was, dare I say it? Paralyzed.
My frustration, grumbling, and muttering then made me feel guilty. I sensed my strong need of Jesus. My first thought was to ask Him to fix all three situations. After all, He could see, as I could, it was in my best interest. But at the same time, I knew my reactions to the situations brought sadness to Him. I’d been studying this story of the paralytic all week looking for some new meaning when it hit me—the man who sought Jesus through the roof and I weren’t so different. Like him, more than I needed the source of my paralysis relieved, I needed what only Jesus can offer—forgiveness for sin.
I needed what only Jesus can offer—forgiveness for sin.
Jesus still healed the man, although it wasn’t what He attended to first. This story becomes a gentle reminder that first, we need to seek the Savior, and the rest will follow. He may not relieve what stresses us, but His words, “Arise, take up your bed” still carry meaning. Go back to work. Go back to what we do for Him. Our sins are forgiven. We are renewed.
When we think of Jesus on earth, other than the time in the temple, we imagine Him always calm, never stressed, never overwhelmed, and in full control. I’m not here to suggest that He wasn’t, but a painting I saw by James Tissot* caused me to at least give consideration that life for Jesus wasn’t easy. In the painting you see Jesus outside Peter’s house. You realize that the streets are narrow, the houses close together, and the crowds all on top of each other. Jesus doesn’t stop until He interacts with each one.
In our lesson this week, Jesus has just finished His first tour of the towns and villages of Galilee. He apparently has made Capernaum His home base, and for now, Peter’s home. We can imagine Him wearily returning, falling into bed hoping for some rest, when there’s a knock at the door. Soon Peter’s home is filled with those wanting instruction from Jesus including some of the religious scribes. We can imagine Mrs. Peter and her mother scurrying around to extend their hospitality.
Jesus models for us the need to care for others even when we are tired. Let this week’s lesson remind us that God will supply all our needs, our patience, and our strength to do His work whether that be in the home or the office.
*All the City was Gathered at His Door/Brooklyn Museum
Making it Real
What situations are you facing right now? Is it possible there are ones where you have no control? Seek Jesus this week, first to draw closer to Him. Confess your sins first. Find peace with Him. Then and only then approach Him with what is troubling you. Jesus first. The rest will follow.
Merle Poirier writes from Silver Spring, Maryland, where she works as the operation manager for Adventist Review and Adventist World magazines as well as the designer for KidsView, a magazine for 8-12-year-olds. She enjoys spending time with her family including being a grandmother to two active little boys, who greatly enjoy Starting With Jesus, and a granddaughter, born in 2023. She is blessed to have all three living close by, continually bringing joy and delight.