For me, it is one of my favorite stories told about Jesus in the gospels. If I had a “top ten”, this would be on the list. The picture that is painted of Jesus teaching in a house when all of a sudden the roof starts to cave in. The perseverance that is portrayed as a band of friends start to lower their paralyzed buddy on his bed down through the roof in front of Jesus. And the power that is pronounced when Jesus declares, “Man your sins are forgiven you. . . . But that you may know the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins, I say to you, rise, pick up your bed and go home,” . . . and the man does!
And when I read the story I tend to respond as those who were eye-witnesses to the man coming down with his bed and the glory of God coming down from heaven.
. . . amazement seized them all, and they glorified God and were filled with awe, . . .
(Luke 5:26 ESV)
And within that story that so captures my imagination there is a phrase that always jumps off the page. Beyond the spectacle they created, looking past the dust in the air and the pieces of roof scattered over the floor, Jesus turned toward the paralyzed man before Him and evoked the power of heaven, and the eventual finished work of His cross, to heal the man–both spiritually and physically–because, Luke writes, “He saw their faith” (5:20a).
He didn’t have to read their minds. No need to search their hearts. Their faith was laid before Him . . . literally! Their actions spoke louder than any creed. Their boldness evidence of their deep belief. And seeing their faith, Jesus wiped clean a sin-stained heart and restored the strength of lifeless limbs.
Did I mention I love this story. Amazed! Filled with awe! All glory to God!
But this morning, after reading this account, there was an “encore.” Something I read in the songwriter’s love song to the word of God in Psalm 119 which brought a finishing touch to the story I had just read in Luke 5.
Turn to me and be gracious to me, as is Your way with those who love Your name.
(Psalm 119:132 ESV)
In the seventeenth stanza of this twenty-two stanza song, the writer continues to sing of God’s wonderful testimonies, of their ability to give light and impart understanding. He declares again his longing for the Almighty’s commandments, that he might be taught them, that he might walk in obedience to them, that, according to God’s promise, his feet would be steady in walking in their ways.
And in the midst of this stanza, he looks beyond the word revealed to the Revealer of the word. As if he is lying on the floor, trusting in the Word before him but knowing he is helpless to help himself, he calls out to the Giver of the word, “Turn to me and be gracious to me.”
The NKJV translates it, “Look upon me and be merciful to me.” See me, Lord, and show unmerited favor because that’s just what you do with those who love Your name. It’s how You have said You would respond to those who desire with great affection nothing more than to know You and Your holy character. It’s just what You have said You will do for those who seek You believing that if they seek, they will find. When you see their faith, turn to them, look upon them, show abundant grace to them. Forgive their sin, heal their disease.
Turn to me and be gracious. It’s the plea of faith. It is the precursor of heaven come down. And, praise God, when He “sees” such faith, He responds with great power.
Because of His amazing grace. All for His everlasting glory!