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Daily Devotional • April 28

Sarah Puryear
Friends to Carry You
A Reading from the Gospel of Luke 5:12-26

12 Once when he was in one of the cities, a man covered with a skin disease was there. When he saw Jesus, he bowed with his face to the ground and begged him, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” 13 Then Jesus stretched out his hand, touched him, and said, “I am willing. Be made clean.” Immediately the skin disease left him. 14 And he ordered him to tell no one. “But go, show yourself to the priest, and, as Moses commanded, make an offering for your cleansing, as a testimony to them.” 15 But now more than ever the word about Jesus spread abroad; many crowds were gathering to hear him and to be cured of their diseases. 16 Meanwhile, he would slip away to deserted places and pray.

17 One day while he was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem were sitting nearby, and the power of the Lord was with him to heal. 18 Just then some men came carrying a paralyzed man on a stretcher. They were trying to bring him in and lay him before Jesus, 19 but, finding no way to bring him in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down on the stretcher through the tiles into the middle of the crowd in front of Jesus. 20 When he saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven you.” 21 Then the scribes and the Pharisees began to question, “Who is this who is speaking blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” 22 When Jesus perceived their questionings, he answered them, “Why do you raise such questions in your hearts? 23 Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Stand up and walk’? 24 But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the one who was paralyzed—“I say to you, stand up and take your stretcher and go to your home.” 25 Immediately he stood up before them, took what he had been lying on, and went to his home, glorifying God. 26 Amazement seized all of them, and they glorified God and were filled with fear, saying, “We have seen incredible things today.”

The story from today’s gospel points to the vital role we play in bringing others and their needs before Jesus. News about Jesus and his power to heal is spreading. It’s helpful to remember how in Jesus’ time treatment for medical problems was, by today’s standards, practically non-existent, certainly for ordinary people living in a small Galilean village. Imagine how shocking it would be to hear that a man is demonstrating his ability to heal. It would ignite hope in a suffering person’s heart who never dreamed of any relief or remedy. It is little wonder that the paralyzed man’s friends would go to such great lengths to see him healed, peeling back the roof of a house and lowering their friend through the air in hopes that he could receive healing.

I write this from Nashville during March of 2023, in the aftermath of the terrible school shooting that occurred here this week. One thing that has stood out to me as our community has responded to these horrific events is the importance of bearing up our friends who are most directly affected. We are called to bring the needs of our friends before Jesus when they cannot do so themselves. Jesus calls us to be the body of Christ, rejoicing with those who rejoice and weeping with those who weep, and I have seen so many people doing just that this week. When we struggle in our darkest hour to maintain hope, may we have friends like the paralyzed man, friends who will intercede for us, serve us in practical ways, and remind us that Jesus hears us, that he cares, that he too grieves the brokenness of this world, and that he is working all things together for good for those who love him (Rom. 8:28).

The Rev. Sarah Puryear lives in Nashville with her family and serves as priest associate at St. George’s Episcopal Church in Nashville.

Daily Devotional Cycle of Prayer

Today we pray for:

Bible and Common Prayer Book Society, Red Bank, New Jersey
The Diocese of Sittwe – The Church of the Province of Myanmar
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