Take. Your Mat

Our theme this week is “Jesus is forgiving.”

Our passage this week includes the story of the men who lowered their paralyzed friend through a roof to meet Jesus face to face. They lowered him down on a mat, which I always picture as a lightweight stretcher, like what you’d see used on a battlefield, or maybe in a European soccer match. 

Jesus forgave the man’s sins, which the scribes and Pharisees in attendance considered to be a blasphemy, as only God can truly forgive sins. I can’t back this up with research, but it sure feels like Jesus intentionally set the audience up for the biggest spiritual “wallop” He could deliver.

First, He told them what they were thinking, which surely put them on edge.

But perceiving their thoughts, Jesus replied to them, “Why are you thinking this in your hearts?” (Luke 5:22 HCSB)

Then He did something they could not deny.

“Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? But so you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins” - He told the paralyzed man, “I tell you: Get up, pick up your mat, and go home.” (Luke 5:23-24 HCSB)

And the man did just that, glorifying God. Remarkable. But as usual, I am distracted by a detail. I am wondering why Jesus didn’t say, “Get up, go home, but leave your mat behind. You no longer need it!” In my mind it would have been more dramatic to leave the mat behind.

We know the house was crowded, so maybe Jesus was just being practical, wanting the mat out of the way so He could go back to teaching. Or maybe Jesus wanted the crowd to watch the same man who rode in on the mat carry the mat away. I wonder if that mat served as a daily reminder to the man himself. I imagine one of his friends, who lowered him through the roof, dropping by his home for a visit years later and spending the night using the old mat as a bed.

What scars do you have from mistakes you made? Have bad decisions by you or others left a reminder from which you cannot escape?

Jesus is calling. Pick up your mat. You don’t need it anymore, but it’s OK that you still have it. Come home.

By Mark Stuart






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