I love to ask my 10-year-old niece to do things for me, especially when I am watching TV. “Hey, will you hand me the remote?” “Are you going to the kitchen? Get me a drink, please.” “Can you pretty-please [fill in the blank with any request related to not wanting to get off the couch]?” With a little pleading, and often bribing, she will give in, but never without this phrase: “You are so needy!”
As I read through the gospels, I find myself thinking this same thing of the people Jesus encountered. They are so needy. They need to be fed. They need to be healed. They need to be reassured. They need him to prove himself. Every single one of them needs something.
On Sunday, we heard about a very popular group of needy people. So needy, that they climbed on a roof and literally dug out a hole in the ceiling to have their need met. Us needy people, we’re not quiet about our needs. We put them out there, determined to make our needs known, even if it means interrupting a very packed church service.
I hope you didn’t fail to notice Jesus’s reaction. Because he doesn’t chastise them for making a mess. He doesn’t get mad because he is needed, once again, to solve someone else’s problem. He just does what he came to do. He saw their need, and he met it. Over and over again, this is his testimony: sight restored, lives raised, storms calmed, questions answered, needs met.
The best part of the account in Luke 5 is when Jesus looks at this man lowered before him, obviously hoping to experience some healing, and does the unexpected. What a shock it must have been to hear, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.” I think Luke purposely left out the guy’s response, which was probably, “What the heck? Forget my sins! What about my legs?” Jesus, the ultimate need meeter looks right past his obvious need, and addresses the one that really matters by saying, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.” Yes, he goes on to tell the man to get up and walk, but not before getting to the heart of the matter, not before making it known that he cares first for eternal needs.
You are needy. It’s true, so don’t try and deny it. However, it is unnecessary for your friends to hoist you onto the roof to get Jesus’s attention. Wherever you are right now, literally in this moment, he sees your external needs. He knows everything thing that there is to know about you physically. He has counted the very hairs on your head. He sees what you need, and he has a plan already in the works to meet it. But while he is closely monitoring those needs, he has his eye on your heart. This is the real need that he left heaven and came to earth to meet. He longs to look at you and say, “Friend, I see your sins. All of them. And while I am working on these other needs of yours, will you let me forgive you, because I love you?”
If we see the paralytic man get up and walk, but we miss the fact that Jesus healed him spiritually, we miss the whole point of the story. If we ask Jesus to help us financially, to restore our relationships, to make us successful, to help us just get through today, but we ignore the healing needed in our hearts we miss the true ministry and mission of Jesus. The real miracle in this story is not the lame man walking, it’s the God Man who gave up everything in order to provide us with the chance to say, “Yes, Jesus, I accept your forgiveness.”