Questions Day 23 (3/7/13)
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What is easier?
Luke 5:22-25 (17-26)
22 Jesus knew what they were thinking and asked, “Why are you thinking these things in your hearts?
23 Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? 24 But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the paralyzed man, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.”
25 Immediately he stood up in front of them, took what he had been lying on and went home praising God.
He was born Fredrick Austerlitz in Omaha, Nebraska in 1899. His stage and film career spanned a total of seventy-six years, during which he made thirty-one movies/movie musicals. He's generally acknowledged to have been the most influential dancer in the history of film and television. He was named the fifth Greatest Male Star of All Time by the American Film Institute.
In 1932, a Hollywood talent agent made this note on his screen test: "Can't act. Can't sing. Can dance a little." The screen test was clearly disappointing, and David O. Selznick, who had commissioned the test, described it as "wretched" in a 1933 studio memo. However, this did not affect plans for Fred Astaire who later, danced his way into the hearts of America through musical after musical, like Top Hat, Swing Time, Shall We Dance, Carefree and Holiday Inn.
Fred Astaire had the ability to make dancing look easy. He made you feel like you could get up and glide across the floor with the same grace and agility he had. Unfortunately for most of us, it wasn't that easy. Some of us, like me, suffer from two left feet. Of course we know that Fred Astaire spent hours and hours practicing so it would look so effortless.
Most of our lives are lived between the observations of others about our talents and abilities and what we can do. My childhood years growing up were in First UMC Plano, where my dad was Sr. Pastor. I call Wichita Falls my home since I was raised there from 6th grade onward. So, when I returned to the Dallas area for my Ordination as a Deacon in the United Methodist Church in 1989, I heard time and again a common phrase from people who only knew me in my childhood years -- "I can't believe you are a minister, I didn't see that in you when you were growing up." At the reception, I could easily identify the people that only remembered me from my childhood years by the expression on their face. Yes, it was a measured blend of surprise and "I'm gonna tell you what you did as a kid" look.
Jesus had an immense ability to recognize what was in the hearts of people. To the man paralyzed, lowered into the presence of Christ by his friends, Jesus recognizes a hunger to walk and be made whole. Though it is not the full interpretation of this text, sin does cripple us. Jesus also senses the negative skepticism of those who hear Jesus declaration, "Your sins are forgiven.” Four unnamed friends help get the man into the presence of Christ. I imagine about this text that this paralyzed man is outside, pleading with people and trying to convince them to get him into the presence of Christ, because he knows Christ can change his life.
When was the last time you made every effort, overcame every obstacle to be in the presence of Christ? When was the last time you made every effort, overcame every obstacle to help someone else into the presence of Christ?
I love the way the passage ends, for it embodies what we all experience when we see the change in people's lives because they have encountered the gentle healing power of Christ.
Everyone was amazed and gave praise to God. They were filled with awe and said, “We have seen remarkable things today.” (Luke 5:26)
When was the last time you were amazed?