Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Fruit of the Spirit - Part Two

The Bible Lesson takes an interesting turn following up on the parable of the Sower and the Seed. Jesus had shared that parable with his listeners. What we study next is an incident that occurs while Jesus is speaking with a different group. Among those who have come to hear him were Pharisees and doctors of the law. Such a crowd had gathered at that house that all the entrances were blocked. Those who got there late could not get anywhere near Jesus. Four men arrived carrying their paralyzed friend on a stretcher. When they couldn't get inside they used the stairs on the outside of the house and climbed to the roof. A portion was removed and they lowered their friend down to Jesus. That must have created a bit of a stir. If we assume that many of those gathered were local people, it is likely that they knew this man and his friends.

Jesus does not seem at all offended by their actions. In fact, he recognizes their faith in his ability to heal. He rewards their overcoming of every obstacle to get to him. The man himself had not spoken or asked anything. Jesus addresses him as 'Son'. He did not mean that this man was his son, but that he was beginning his healing work by recognizing in front of everyone there that this man is God's son. A child of God. He could have said so many things, but he who knew what was going on in everyone's heart and thoughts tells him that his sins are forgiven. That man must have been there with his full consent and with an anticipation that Jesus could help his paralysis. Jesus is about to do much more than that, and in front of the man's neighbors.

It would have been a great thing to heal this man of his palsy but it was going to be an even greater thing to get at the root of what caused it in the first place. This man may have made some choices of lifestyle that caused the illness, he may have done bad things as a result while under that influence, he certainly had alienated himself from his family for he was being cared for by his friends who still loved him. He might have seen being confined to that bed as a just punishment for his actions. He knew he had sinned. Jesus continues his treatment by letting him know that those sins are forgiven. He may have sensed repentance. Only God's forgiveness could truly heal this affliction in that man's thought. And Jesus phrased it that they were forgiven. Not just that at some point they would be.

His words had an effect on the man but also on those listening. The Pharisees and lawyers considered this blasphemy for this was something only God could do. Who did this man think he was! He had no right to do this! That honor belongs only to the Creator. They refused to accept Jesus for who he was, the Messiah. Jesus, who was aware of the thoughts the young man had, was just as aware of what these men were thinking. And he challenges them.

Did they think it was easier to make this declaration or to tell the man to get up and walk? They seemed to think that any pretender can say your sins are forgiven. What proof would there be? Jesus concludes the treatment by telling the man to 'Arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house'. He lifts that man up spiritually and physically. He is to take the very item that had bound him for so long and carry it himself, as he would no longer need to be carried. And, he is to return home, his own house where he would be welcomed. This last was a signal to all those who knew this man that he was restored and forgiven and not to be identified as a sinner any longer.

Think of the seeds the Sower planted that day. Think of the different types of 'soil' that were present there. Those who came prepared to expose him as a fraud saw proof of his power. Those who came to hear this man speak of God's love for them saw how it heals and restores. Those who listened with an open heart and receptivity took in that precious seed and nurtured it. The Seed is being sown every day. The Sower continues his work. You can choose how you will prepare your heart and mind for that seed. And it can be, for you, fruitful beyond your imagination. Thirty fold. Sixty fold. An hundred fold. The seed of Truth bears fruit. There's no stopping it. The crop is up to you.

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