What is new and
the best?

Thus says the LORD: Remember not the events of the past, the things of long ago consider not; see, I am doing something new!

Today’s gospel presents one of the most picturesque, most moving, and most dramatic events in Jesus’ ministry.

As usual, Jesus is in someone’s house. Everyone is there to see Him, to hear Him teach and proclaim the Kingdom. It is standing room only and people cannot even get inside the door. Four men decide to bring their friend, so he might be healed. The drama begins. They cannot get near Jesus. Like most guys, the devise a crazy plan. Let’s go up on the roof and break in from above.

Now imagine, they had to get ladders or ropes. They had to get up on the roof. They had to get their paralyzed friend up there too; he couldn’t move himself. That process had to take some time. They’re likely wondering if Jesus might leave in the meantime. The clock (or sundial) is ticking away.

They finally get up there. They start breaking open the roof. The people, down below had to have been – at least wondering. Pieces of the roof were falling down on the crowd.

The hole is open, the men begin to lower their friend. They are eager, working hard, trusting in a miracle. Our friend will walk, our friend will walk – almost like a Super Bowl cheer. And, Jesus says: “Child, your sins are forgiven.”

There is a mix of drama and disappointment. A moral drama is taking place between the Scribes and Jesus. All the while this man is laying there, suspended by ropes. His friends are teetering on the roof. They are teetering in their disappointment. They are on the edge of losing faith. They are looking at each other – What did we just do? This wasn’t worth it at all! How are we going to get out of here?

The focus is suddenly on Jesus’ question to the Scribes. It is phrased as: Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, pick up your mat and walk?’ This is a question about the power of God and the greatness of the gifts He offers. Which is the greatest power and gift – to physically heal or to free someone from sins?

Jesus sets the record straight. Reflecting on Isaiah’s prophecy, Jesus makes the paralyzed man’s past go away. I will remember not the events of the past. Jesus has freed the man from his past, his sins. He shows Himself as Master of the past, present, and future; the Master who can make everything new. Then to dramatically illustrate what He had done, He tells the man to get up and walk. The man’s life is totally new. He walks without bondage. The bonds and chains that drag us down vanish in Jesus’ words. This is for us. Jesus delivers extraordinary freedom for us, making all new and best. We will walk! We will walk!

Take My

Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw how strong the wind was he became frightened; and, beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught Peter, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”

It would seem that this week is all about drama. In First Kings, we encounter A strong and heavy wind rending the mountains and crushing rocks, an earthquake, and fire. We find Jesus walking across the storm and frightened disciples. Even Paul is filled with sorrow and constant anguish over the lack of faith among his own people. He would rather throw himself into hell so that they may be saved – very dramatic.

Our lives seem to be filled with drama as well. There are disappointments, sadness, and anguish. In the midst of all this noise, it is really difficult to find peace, to close out the noise and release the stress. Peter couldn’t keep his eye on the Lord in the midst of a raging sea. Elijah had trouble finding the Lord in the midst of earthquake, fire, and wind. Why should we different if prophets and saints had difficulty. God understands that we struggle and can even lose faith for a moment.

Even so, God calls us to grow in perfection, to look through and past the drama, keeping our eyes on the prize.

Perhaps that was easier for early Christians. They understood the utter terror of everything. They had no sense of control over anything that happened around them. They could be arrested for no reason, could be killed in a storm. They only had Jesus – so He was their sole confidence and peace.

We have immunized ourselves a bit. We can drive or even fly through storms, we have the protection of airbags and seatbelts, our homes are generally safe and sturdy. We seem to have more confidence. Seem to…

Today, God is calling us back to the prize. He is reminding us to keep our eyes on Him even in the midst of our noise. He asks us to see His very precious gift.

The miracle for our lives is the power of God over the chaos and drama. When we fall, sink, or can’t seem to hear Him, He is the One that reaches out.

Where was God today? He was in the whisper. He was the hand that reached out to save. Elijah hid his face in his cloak and went and stood at the entrance of the cave. He listened. Peter took Jesus’ hand. The disciples in the boat did him homage, saying, “Truly, you are the Son of God.” The presence and hand of God. Jesus reaching out for us is a constant. He is the nudge we feel, the gentle tug and whisper. Take My hand in your storm, find my quiet voice, and have peace.