Friday, December 08, 2006

One Look, One Touch

Two men, stymied by the crowd.

People don't like me. Taking money from the poor, my poor, people of Israel just like me. It feeds me though - and provides a little extra. I am despised because of my job, collecting taxes for the government. Their share and mine. People don't like me. Today, though, there is a crowd, and I can hide in a crowd. No one will see me today. No one will cut their eyes or slice their spit my way. A man who calls himself God is coming, and they won't have time for me. They just want to see. I cannot see.

We used to run, play, laugh. Back before the worries of this world pressed in on us. Seems like ages ago, way back before the accident. A simple twist of fate that left my friend paralyzed. Wrong place, wrong time, as they say. But love forged over time does not change with circumstance, and I love my friend. Would do anything for him. He suffers daily, has suffered daily for years. We no longer run or play together. Hell, he can't run or play at all. We no longer laugh. But still I stand. A crowd has gathered to see a man who calls himself God, a man who heals, who performs miracles with power. I am part of that crowd. My friend is too, lying here on his mat. Hope is dim, has been for a while. We no longer laugh.

I cannot see. It's hard being 5'4". I want to see. They say this man eats with sinners, with the lonely, and I have not had a friend in a long time. The crowd is dense. My short frame, stocky from years of good food, can squeeze between bodies no further. I still cannot see. Yet through the gaps I see hope. A tree.

We no longer laugh. Paralysis is not a laughing matter. The burlap mat rubbing sores into an atrophied body. The desire to do what once came so easily, and restlessness, bluntly grinding away at the soul. Futility, knowing this will be my friend's lot until death. Yet today, a glimmer of hope exists in this man, the one who has healed fevers, spirits, demons. I do not laugh because of the hundreds, nay thousands, that stand between my friend and the front door. The door I can just barely see through the bodies. Then through the gaps I see hope. The roof.

A tree? What self-respecting man climbs a tree? Why would I expose myself to the people? They spit on me, curse at me, strike at me when I can flee; what shall they do when I am caged in limbs and leaves? I will look foolish. Have I no shame? Why risk for one look at this man? What will the people say?

The roof? Who tears a hole in his neighbor's roof? What will the onlookers say about a destroyer of property, about one who cuts in line? What will the owner say? How can a modest man like me pay the damage? And what if my friend falls as I lower him and his mat down to the ground? I will look foolish. Have I no shame? Why risk for one touch from this man? What might the people say?

What the people might say ceases to matter when he calls me down from the tree. Not out of disgust or discipline but for dinner. He wants to dine with me. Me! A wee little man. Who am I? Not a politician or a religious leader. I have not had a friend in a very long time. This man who calls himself God wants to eat with me. A sign of friendship, a sign of commitment, a sign of acceptance. I am accepted.

What the people might say ceases to matter when my friend stands. He stands! And this man says by my faith. Certainly only little faith have I, no larger than a mustard seed. More questions than faith, actually. Who am I? A poor man, no doubt, but my friend stands! We laugh, overjoyed, amazed and filled with awe. We laugh. He is healed.

I am accepted. Me of no account. Greedy, selfish, having little to offer and giving nothing. Despised by men because reputations don't change, and maybe rightfully so. I am a wee little man, after all, small and insecure, a point of ridicule now and always. And yet, there is something about that man Jesus. A little belief, a refusal to stay passive. One climb up a tree. Forevermore, never to be friendless.

He is healed. By my faith, a faith of no account. Not like the preachers or the teachers or the leaders. My lot remains to be laughed at by men from here to eternity, and maybe rightfully so. I tore a hole in my neighbor's roof, a folly for all times, to be sure. And yet, there is something about that man Jesus. A little belief, a little love. Just a little, but it was enough to overcome passivity. One climb onto a roof. Forevermore, never to be wounded.

Two men, who would refused to be stymied by the crowd.


Jeff said...

zacchaeus was a wee little man and a wee little man was he

Alex said...

yes! great stuff, ben...

Esther said...

I enjoyed this post. It's always good to think about how it looks from that point of view. So many times, I forget or try to that I am broken, but this kind of reminder is a balm in and of itself. Yes, we are broken, but He loves us.