A ray of sunshine slanted across the dark room. All day he would study the ray’s movement, gazing as it slid along the walls. It creeped into being each dawn, the loyal reminder for his eyelids to flutter open. As it brightened and faded with each passing hour he grew increasingly jealous.
The light could shift, shimmer, glide, illuminate the darkness. It had silent but incredible power. Though others worked with little thought to the gleaming orb above, he felt mocked by the sun’s existence. For all 24 hours it moved, but he did not.
Every muscle, bone, and ligament below his neck was as still as stone. It had been for a long time, for too long.
The door of the home creaked open, followed by a storm of exhilarated voices.
“They say He has cleansed the leper, simply at His word!”
“Israel has not seen works like this.”
“Is He a healer, prophet, or something more?”
There was no answer. He looked up to see his brothers standing at the room’s entrance. They all stared at him with curious eyes, each experiencing the beauty of the same realization. The silence was full of wonder.
He knew that look. It was the hopeful look given when others thought there was a solution to his paralysis. Although his mind had perked at the word “healer,” his doubts quickly darkened over memories of past failed treatments. Many herbal concoctions, prayers, and sorceries had come to his room, but none had worked. His family had broken the Law to find a cure, and as he expected, Yahweh had not moved. His body still did not move.
“We must take you to Him,” said one.
He grimaced. Every time they ventured out to a physician it entailed public shame. A full-grown man, he was nevertheless carried like a newborn babe.
“No, no. I must bear this, and there will never be relief. Do not make me go into the streets only to return the same.”
But his brothers did not waver.
“This will be different! This man has healed countless!” pleaded his younger brother.
“That’s what you said of others,” he mumbled, unconvinced.
“His power is not like the others,” echoed the eldest. “There is a sense of authority about Him, He is not only a healer. Many have gathered for His teachings. There are large crowds of those in need, you will not be alone. All are flocking to Him in hope, some even spread that He is the Messiah.”
His eyes widened. A man who spoke from God, not simply pawning gold for his medical services. A man who may save all of Israel.
“I will pray, but leave this matter to me. I will hear no more.”
They retreated, grumbling under their breath. He glanced at the window, watching the light grow dim as its source likewise retreated beyond the earth. Darkness enclosed the space, bearing the heaviness of the day’s guilt.
He may not be able to move, thus breaking commands concerning the body and his community, but he knew his holiness did not match the Lord’s. In the hours of silence his mind secretly screamed with discontent, bitterness, and covetousness toward those who could walk.
In his desperation he had played with prayers to other gods, not solely calling upon the will of Yahweh. There was an emptiness to his immobile existence, and yet a burning urge to question the goodness of God and the purpose of his life. The selfish doubt etched sin into his heart.
As the moon’s presence softly made its way into the room, a ghostly beam shrouding his bed, his eyes closed for sleep.
But first, supplication.
Forgive me, please. As King David wallowed in his anguish, pleading to you for deliverance, I do the same. I am unworthy, but save me in your steadfast love. They say there is one from You who can help. Is this true? I ask that if he is truly of You that he would be my salvation, that this motionless bed would not be my fate… And that I would be righteous before You in both body and spirit.
He awoke not to the rising sun, but to the rising of his bed. His body was jostled about as his brothers each grabbed a corner, lifting the mattress and heading for the door. Though his mouth moaned in protest, his heart was actually filled with promise. The stares of others were expected, but less humiliating. After all, he wondered, this could be the day that my feet stand upon the ground.
The murmur of a distant crowd quickly escalated in volume. His brothers turned the corner, going from an open pathway into an alley packed with people from all walks of life.
He glanced into the face of a nearby woman, her irises clouded with darkness. Others shivered with seizures, their family members restraining them with all their might. Demons. Poor and rich, religious robes and shepherd cloaks alike were spotted, all eagerly pressing upon the door of a home.
“He must be inside,” commented one of his brothers.
“With this mass how will we ever see Him?”
“We’ve taken him here…there’s no turning back. I know He will heal him, He will surely do it!”
He admired the faith of his family, their dedication to help him and at the same time trust this mysterious prophet.
They waited for a few minutes, trudging along toward the edge of the congregation, until a idea was born.
“I see a tree above the house’s roof! Let’s go in from above!” bursted the youngest.
The rest looked upon the suggestion with shock.
“Would that dishonor Him?”
“How will he respond?”
That’s a good question, he thought. Would my case be too difficult for this man? Would this stunt only add to my shame? The hesitation ruled his mind for but a moment. No. This amount would not gather if he was incapable of marvelous things.
“Let’s go. Let’s do it,” he said.
They all looked at him with even greater astonishment.
“Since he says so, we shall do it. God is truly at work,” said one. The others agreed.
The group took side streets to come along the backside of the property. Slowly and carefully they lifted him into the branches and onto the roof, then followed themselves. One by one tiles were taken from the top, exposing the space below.
And then he saw Him. One could not miss the gravity in His eyes as they peered upward. Pharisees, the high spiritual leaders, sat around him looking with critical brows. As his brothers gradually lowered him onto the ground the room hushed, gawking as his lifeless limbs were placed before Jesus.
“Man, your sins are forgiven you.”
In that moment he knew that he would walk. In that same moment, he knew that if he did not walk, it would be okay. More than okay, for he had been forgiven by the Son of God.
The Pharisees whispered to one another in dissent, oblivious to the miracle. “Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?”
Can’t they see? He is the Christ!
The Healer turned to them, “Why do you question in your hearts? Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins,” Jesus looked back at him. “I say to you, rise, pick up your bed and go home.” v. 22-24
A sudden tingling flooded his bones, the pitter-patter of revived nerve endings firing, muscles trembling in anticipation. His brain could not comprehend the novel sensations, except for an overwhelming joy that cascaded from head to toe.
Without conscious feeling, he had risen to his feet, thin mattress in hand, and was striding toward the entrance.
“All glory to my Lord and my Savior!” his voice boomed.
The crowd outside parted before him, stares coming not from pity but from amazement.
“He has brought my legs to life!” He has brought my dead heart to life.