Faith of a mustard seed

Barbara Woods-Washington 2014

Barbara A. Woods Washington, M. Div.

Looking to Luke’s use of ‘Faith’. He records first the Triple tradition ‘The Healing of the Paralytic’ (Luke 5:17-26). “On one of those days, as he was teaching, there were Pharisees and teachers of the law sitting by, who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem; and the power of the Lord was with him to heal. And behold, men were bringing on a bed a man who was paralyzed, and they sought to bring him in and lay him before Jesus; but finding no way to bring him in, because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down with his bed through the tiles into the midst before Jesus. And when he saw their faith he said, “Man, your sins are forgiven you.” And the scribes and the Pharisees began to question, saying, “Who is this that speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God only?”

When Jesus perceived their questionings, he answered 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” –he said to the man who was paralyzed—“I say to you, rise, take up your bed and go home. And immediately he rose before them, and took up that on which he lay, and went home, glorifying God. And amazement seized them all, and they glorified God and were filled with awe, saying, “We have seen strange things today.”

Variations include that while Matthew (9:1-8) and Mark (2:1-12) both identify the location of this Faith event being at Jesus’ home town, no location is given by Luke. His location information is to report that the Pharisees and Scribes present had come from “every village in Galilee, Judea and Jerusalem”. Perhaps it is Luke’s profession that gave rise to his single tradition statement “and the power of the Lord was upon him (Jesus) to heal”. We envision a straw or thatched roof in our modern minds but Luke alone records ‘tile’ being the substance of the roof. To “let him down with his bed through the tiles”— not as easy as we think. Where Matthew and Mark both use ‘child’, Luke uses ‘man’ and ‘you’ is added to the pronouncement of ‘forgiveness of sins’: “Man, your sins are forgiven you.” The response of those present— “We have seen strange things today”.

Luke has thus far (in the first four chapters) introduced a Gospel written to he who ‘loves God’ (Theophilus). The ‘Birth Narratives’, (of both John The Baptist and Jesus)— ‘The Immaculate Conception’; ‘Mary’s Song’; ‘Zachariah’s Prophecy’ concerning his son; The Shepherds and The Angels; —have given rise to the Christian Church’s great ‘Silent Night’ and ‘Peace On Earth’ traditions as recounted annually in the Christmas Season. In the first 4 chapters, Luke has told of Jesus’ ‘Bar Mitzvah’— of Him being ‘left in the temple’ at the age of 12 unbeknownst to his parents. His ‘genealogy’. His ‘Wilderness Temptat-ions’. His ‘Teaching Ministry’. His ‘Trial Sermon’ in the Synagogue for which he took the text Isaiah 61— “The spirit of the Lord is upon me for he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” His ‘Healing Ministry’ and spiritual power for ‘Exorcism’ all in Luke’s first 4 chapters.

By the 5th Chapter, His fame had spread far and wide. Not only would a group of men who brought their paralyzed friend on his pallet to be healed by Jesus have a problem getting through the crowd, but, the Pharisees and Scribes, the important men, the learned leaders had come from “every village in Galilee, Judea and Jerusalem” to see Him.

It is Luke’s ‘Healing of the Paralytic’ event that introduces ‘Faith’ and ‘Controversy’! “When he saw their faith, he said, Man, your sins are forgiven you.” Somebody must have called CNN for now, in Luke, Jesus’ troubles begin.

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