rise, pick up your mat, and go home…

At the end of this Gospel reading (Mark 2:1-12), we find the phrase that I used as the title for today’s ramblings.  As I read this reading today, I realized that in my mind, I had automatically gone into auto-pilot as the reading is very familiar.  So, I made myself go back and read it again.  This time I was looking for something I hadn’t seen the first time through.  This particular phrase struck me.  Have you ever thought about what this man was experiencing?

So, I decided to read it again, but this time putting myself into the role of this paralyzed man.  First of all, being paralyzed must be terrifying.  Whenever I have lost the ability to move about easily due to a sprained ankle or hurt foot, I am SO conscious of how much I depend on being mobile. To be paralyzed would be devestating!  To have to depend on others all the time to get around would be hard to live with. The fact is obvious that this man is really not well as it took 4 men to carry his stretcher (which would be even more humbling).  And then, they were so concerned about this friend that they searched out Jesus and went to great lengths for Jesus to see and hopefully cure him.

So, to summarize, we know:

#1 He is paralyzed and not able to get around on his own

#2 He had wonderful caring friends who were concerned for him

#3 He obviously wasn’t doing well that his friends sought out a miracle for his cure

#4 His friends go to great lengths, even smashing through roofs to help him

Now, picture yourself as this man.  Laying there, unable to move on your own, dependent on others for most of your daily activity, but resting peacefully as possible on your mat.  Along comes four friends who pick up your mat and start carrying it out the door.  Down the road they go, jostling, bumping, traveling down the road to who knows where.  Then, when they arrive at their destination, there are so many people there that they can’t even get into the door.  (at this point, I picture myself trying to push a cart through Toys R Us before Christmas and getting bumped and jostled continuously)  Finally, one of your friends gets the bright idea of going onto the rooftop and lowering you down in front of Jesus.  So, they start working on getting you up onto the roof and then breaking through the roof without falling in themselves.  At this point, I think I would be wondering how I got involved with such crazy lunatics.  But, just then, one of your friends cries out that he has broken through and it is time to start lowering you down.  So, you feel yourself jostled around again and then feel yourself hanging and dropping lower and pray that you don’t crash to the ground!

But, then you are with Jesus and a peace comes over you so that all you can do is gaze on His face.  Then, just as you think He is about to cure you, some idiot in the crowd is trying to stop Jesus from doing anything because they think he is blaspheming.  So, your spirits fall once again thinking that this has all been for nothing.  But, then Jesus shows them and tells you to get up, pick up your mat and go home.  Hmmm, would I obey right away?  Or would I question it in my own mind?  I think I would be skeptical but yet hopeful for any possibility that I might haltingly just do what he said.

But, I guess the hardest part of this is to think of myself as just one who would get up, pick up my mat and just go home.  Without telling Christ thank you???  Without jumping for joy and celebrating???  Without any acknowledgement of my friends who struggled and sacrificed to get me there???  Without telling everyone around me all the good that I had experienced at Jesus’s command???  For those of you who know me, you probably know that the last one there would be my hardest trial!

But, that is what he did.  He rose, picked up his mat and went out.  No words.  No acknowledgements.  No celebrations.  No fanfare.  Just go home.  I pray that if I were ever face to face with Jesus that if he told me to go, I would.  But, I also know my weaknesses and somehow I think that would be the hardest thing of all to actually do.  But, then again, maybe that is just me.   Would you find it easy to just walk away?

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