Extending God’s Grace

When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven.’ (Mk. 2:5)

Years ago, two guys—let me call them Joe and Fred—asked if I would help to arbitrate their long-standing conflicts.   Not long after they requested my help, it became apparent that Joe was in serious trouble.

I gathered those who loved Joe—his wife, kids, neighbors, and sailing buddies—and we resolved to do an intervention on him.  One Sunday afternoon Joe’s wife sent him for an errand.  When he returned, a dozen people were gathered in his living room.

He said, “I know why you’re here, and you all can just…”  He was foul.  Angry.  Malicious.  Each of us then shared how much we loved him and how worried we were about him and his drinking.  When his three daughters spoke about how much they “missed their Daddy,” he broke down and said he would seek treatment.  That intervention saved his life.

In today’s scripture four men intervened for their paralyzed friend.  When they realized that they couldn’t get their friend to Jesus because of the crowd, they hauled him up to the roof, dismantled it, and then lowered him to Jesus.  When Jesus saw the faith of the friends, He healed the man.

The first commandment is to love God.  The second commandment is to love our neighbors as ourselves.

Sometimes loving takes an intervention.  If the men hadn’t intervened and risked their lives to lower their friend to Jesus, he would have remained paralyzed.  If Joe’s family and friends hadn’t intervened and taken the risk to confront him, he would have soon died.

Today’s scripture encourages us to see that our faith isn’t just for our own lives and wellbeing—our faith can also be the means by which and through which Jesus can extend His grace and healing power to someone else.

Every year on the anniversary of his intervention, Joe would send thank you notes to those who were in his living room on that fateful day.  The support of the program he attended, the love of his family and friends, the healing power of Jesus, helped Joe to eventually die loving God, loving others (even Fred), and loving his own saved self.

Reflection Questions:

  1. Has anyone, any group, ever intervened on you? If so, did you pay attention?  If you didn’t then, do you need to now?
  1. Is there someone you need to speak to now, someone you are worried about, someone who isn’t making good choices? Are you willing to risk the relationship to possibly save their life?
  1. Every year on his birthday, Joe sent thank you notes to those who saved his life. This year for your birthday, are there any people to whom you might want to send a note?

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