Jesus raised him up, and right away he picked up his mat and walked out in front of everybody. They were all amazed and praised God, saying, “We’ve never seen anything like this!”-– Mark 2:12
When Jesus healed a paralyzed man, whose friends had lowered through a roof to him, the crowd’s reaction wasn’t just that they had never seen a miracle before. It was that the person who did the miracle was a religious leader who loved people more than the law. That was both astonishing and refreshing.
Before Jesus, the more conservative religious authorities loved the law first, people second. One must honor God by honoring the law laid down atop Mt. Sinai and spelled out in excruciating detail in Leviticus. Too bad if people were labeled unclean or if they were banished from the community. The law was the law, and no one was above it nor should it be questioned.
And here comes Jesus. He forgives sins, heals on the sabbath, welcomes sinners, eats with tax collectors, and teaches that loving your neighbor is just as important as loving God. Perhaps his most radical teaching was that if you can’t forgive someone, forget about God forgiving you. Find that in Leviticus.
Did you notice the interesting way today’s verse began? “Jesus raised him up.” He bent over, put his arms around the paralyzed man, and lifted him to his feet. Other religious leaders stayed away from such intimacy. Jesus, literally, embraced it.
In our faith today, we need more embracing and less judging. More accepting and less legalizing. The path of discipleship is loving others so radically that people who thought they knew what religious people do are stopped in their tracks. “We’ve never seen anything like this before!”