“And getting into a boat he crossed over and came to his own city. And behold, they brought to him a paralytic, lying on his bed; and when Jesus saw their faith he said to the paralytic, ‘Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.’ And behold, some of the scribes said to themselves, ‘This man is blaspheming.’ But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, ‘Why do you think evil in your hearts? For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of man has power on earth to forgive sins’ —he then said to the paralytic— ‘Rise, take up your bed and go home.’ And he rose and went home. When the crowds saw it, they marveled, and glorified God, who had given such power to men/human beings (τοῖς ἀνθρώποις).” (Mt 9: 1-8)
Why does Christ’s forgiveness and healing of the paralytic make the crowds marvel at the God-given power (ἐξουσία) of “human beings“ (in the plural), – and not at the power of (just) One Man, Jesus Christ? Because here Christ is “motivated“ to manifest His power, both of forgiveness and healing, by the faith of certain human beings, after He “saw their faith,“ and then by the lack of faith of others, – that they may “know“ that the Son of man has power on earth to forgive sins.
We don’t “change“ God by our manifestations of faith, or lack thereof. He is unchangeably always loving us; always unchangeably all-powerful and the One Source of healing and forgiveness. But He has “empowered“ us with the capacity for communion with Him, and by His own willingness to have communion with us, throughout our ups and downs. This “communion“ occurs within our space and time, in which our changeable strengths and weaknesses “move“ God to manifest Himself at various times in various ways, as He sees best for our growth in Him. He consistently works to “move“ us toward His purpose for us, which is “salvation,“ or a “coming home“ to wholeness in Him. This Sunday morning, as I prepare for Holy Communion, let me hear His call, once again, as He says to me, “Rise, take up your bed,“ – which is my particular cross, of whatever tends to drag me down, “and go home!“ Thank You, Lord, for sharing Yourself with us, throughout our ups and downs.