I hadn't planned on being shocked that day. I had gone intending to catch this Jesus fellow in an act of blasphemy. This fool had been claiming things that just could not be true! Son of God! Who did he think he was to be claiming this??? Everyone knew that to say such things was against the Law! This man had to be stopped before he upset the whole synagogue with his lies, so I went that day to catch him. But I was the one who was caught. Caught in a storm of surprise, amazement, and awe.
Let me tell you the story.
I went to that house that day early, knowing that there would be many that would be trying to get close to this man they called 'Teacher'. As I suspected, there was a crowd gathered even before I arrived. By the time Jesus started talking, there was no room to move in the house. The more he spoke, the quieter the crowd grew. You could have heard a pebble fall, it was that still. The smell of so many bodies packed in so tightly was almost overwhelming, but it did nothing to discourage the crowd from getting as close as they could, hanging on every word he spoke. The more I heard the angrier I got. He was going to lead all these good, observant Jews astray!! Speaking of love and forgiveness. Claiming to be the very Son of God. And they were eating it up like hungry children starving for every word that came from his mouth! I made up my mind to say something, to stop him from going on another minute. Finally, the proof needed to rid our faith of this rabble rouser once and for all.
And then the roof started to crumble down upon the crowd.
People started to scramble to get out, but with so many crammed into the small space, there was no way that anyone could make a quick exit. There was panic and chaos, but what happened next stopped us all in our tracks. Just as the light began to trickle in through the new hole in the roof, it was blocked out again by something being lowered down in front of Jesus. I craned my neck to get a better view and was shocked to see a man being lowered down through the hole in the roof. Four other men were up on the roof, the look of determination and concentration clear on their faces as they carefully dropped their friend down to be near to Jesus. As his mat touched the floor they all sighed with relief and let the ropes go slack. Jesus looked up at them with a smile and a look of approval that made me wonder, what did he know??
"Friend, your sins are forgiven" Jesus spoke gently to the man on the mat.
What?!?! Who did he think he was to claim forgiveness for this man??? Only GOD could forgive someone's sins! He had no authority to offer forgiveness to anyone!! This man had obviously committed some kind of sin... or he wouldn't be paralyzed to begin with, to recieve forgiveness he had to go to a priest and follow the Law to be healed... and this man Jesus was no priest!
"Why are you thinking these things in your hearts?" Jesus spoke to all of us, but his dark eyes were looking straight at me. At me! Oh! How did he... no, he couldn't know what I was thinking. But those eyes... it was as if they were looking straight into my soul. "Which is easier: to say, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Get up and walk'? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins..." and with that he turned to the man on the mat and proclaimed "I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home." Just as I started to step forward to challenge him, an amazing thing happened. The man stood up and picked up his mat, a look of joy and amazement on his face as he looked at Jesus with such reverence that it took my breath away.
I couldn't move, couldn't speak, couldn't think. I had seen this man every day for years. We had grown up together... I knew his family, his parents, his siblings. I knew that he couldn't walk. What did this mean? How was this possible?? My mind was racing as I watched him make his way through the crowd. Unbelieveable. There was only one answer.
He was the Son of GOD.
I knew it could be the only answer. I could feel it in my heart, down to my very soul. Who else could He be? Who else could heal someone that completely, that quickly? To say that someone was forgiven was one thing, anyone could speak those words and who would ever know otherwise?? But to heal someone... how could that be anything other than of GOD??
I walked home in a daze that day. Everything I had been taught, everything that I believed was thrown into the wind in those moments. My life would never be the same.
I had met the Teacher.