The next event in Luke 5 is a famous Sunday School story- “Jesus Forgives and Heals a Paralyzed Man,” and is one that many of us know well. Because of that we tend to gloss over the details. I’ll skip over the common applications of the event (the faith of the friends and that Jesus can heal and forgive), and focus on two things that can be quite easy to miss. This post will look at the first of those two things. Here’s the passage:
On one of those days, as [Jesus] was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there, 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, some men were bringing on a bed a man who was paralyzed, and they were seeking 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 who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” When Jesus perceived their thoughts, 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, pick up your bed and go home.”And immediately he rose up before them and picked up what he had been lying on and went home, glorifying God. And amazement seized them all, and they glorified God and were filled with awe, saying, “We have seen extraordinary things today.” Luke 5: 17-26
Jesus is teaching in a house, and it is crowded with Pharisees and teachers of the law from all over the place. And in the middle of his lesson (whatever that may have been), all of a sudden the roof is broken open and a paralyzed man laying on a mat is lowered into the room. And Jesus heals him. But before the man is lowered, Jesus is teaching. He’s teaching, and He’s interrupted by the guy being lowered into the room. Jesus is unfazed and heals the guy.
This same kind of thing happens throughout Jesus’ ministry; over and over again He is going somewhere or saying something and people interrupt Him to be healed. And Jesus heals them. He isn’t upset by their interruption. He doesn’t tell His disciples to show them the door. Instead, He stops what He is doing and heals them. The woman who touches Jesus’ robe is a great example of this, found in Luke 8 and Mark 5.
Personally, most of the time I don’t deal with interruption quite so gracefully. Especially when I am focused on a task, or working towards a goal or deadline. Especially when the interruption involves people asking for my attention, or time, or resources.
But Jesus never lets this bother Him. He put people first, and took the time to answer the interruptions. In fact, in this situation the interruption was divinely appointed. Luke says in v. 17 that “the power of the Lord was with Him to heal.”
It’s easy for all of us, but especially those in ministry, to make people secondary to the vision, to the goal, or to the schedule. But as followers of Christ, and especially those who shepherd, we need to keep people first. To see the interruptions as God-appointed, and to be fully present for those asking our time. This may mean we stop what we are doing and attend to them immediately or it may mean we schedule a time to meet with them later, but it never means that we brush them off, and it doesn’t excuse us from being upset or annoyed by them.
As we keep in step with the Spirit, the more we will come to see God’s hand in the interruptions of life, and feel His promptings to respond in love and power.