The young man lay on his pallet, his face reddening in shame. He couldn’t even walk to see the Messiah, but had to be carried! His four dear and faithful friends bore him along as gently as possible to the house where Jesus was teaching. Observing the people standing outside the door, his heart sank. How would they get inside?
He shut his eyes, attempting to bottle the welling disappointment. One of his friends spoke up, “Let’s hoist him onto the roof and bring him down through there!”
The four men grinned at one another and set to work. Two climbed on the roof while two remained on the ground with him. Before long, he found himself being let down through the roof of the house, his pallet coming to rest directly in front of Jesus.
Would Jesus send him away?
Would he again feel the shame of being told ‘you are useless’?
But Jesus looked into his eyes and said warmly, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”
This was not quite what he had expected. Forgiveness of his sins was a gift only God could give. Tension hung in the air as a sudden hush fell over the room.
The young paralytic watched Jesus’ eyes. They gazed at the crowd with a mixture of sadness, perceptiveness, and determination.
Jesus’ voice rose, “Why do you question these things in your hearts?”
The paralytic sensed that Jesus was not merely addressing his own thoughts, but the doubts of others in the room.
“Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins—”
Jesus paused, and those gentle eyes fixed upon the paralytic’s once more, as he said, “I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.”
Sensations immediately returned to his limbs. He could feel the bumpiness of the ground under his legs. He wriggled his toes back and forth. He sat up in amazement, then leapt to his feet, longing to dance and sing! Jesus had blessed him healing of the body and healing of the heart. There was no doubt in His mind that Jesus had the power to forgive sins if he could heal such an impossible injury.
Once again, his eyes met Jesus’ eyes, and there was no mistaking the delight in them. He had come to Jesus a broken man, and now he walked out of the house on two working legs, healed and whole! His friends ran to him, tears of joy streaming down their cheeks. There was no denying the power of what Jesus had done. The voices rising crowd indicated that they too marveled and rejoiced at the transformative miracle they had witnessed that day.
Come—just as you are
I’ve seen many signs in front of church buildings that read, “Come as you are,” and often wondered what message they hoped to convey. I know that regardless of “how” I show up to services, God knows whether my heart is focused on Him or caught up in self.
I may come impeccably dressed while my heart is in shambles.
I might wear threadbare clothes while possessing a heart receptive to God’s discipline.
Our attire, whether stainless or shabby, might be able to create a certain impression on people, but it will not conceal from God the state of our hearts or our minds.
Whether we acknowledge it or not, whenever we approach the Lord in worship, in prayer, or in study, we come in a state of imperfection. It is the intercessory blood of Jesus that allows us to stand before the Lord as a child of His. We can only come before God “as we are”; it is Jesus who transforms us into “who we ought to be.”
In the narrative of the paralytic, there were two types of hearts in the house: the proud and the humble. If we come to Jesus with an attitude of arrogance, we will be rejected. God does not tolerate proud hearts as we see throughout the scriptures in His condemnations of Pharaoh, Nadab, Abihu, the Israelites, King Saul, and the Pharisees.
If, however, we approach God with reverence, we will be able to see His transformative power. Like the paralytic, our transformation—however small—will magnify God’s glory to a world lost in darkness.
Moses beheld God on Mount Sinai, and his face shone so brightly that the Israelites couldn’t bear to look at him.
Isaiah saw a vision, and cried out, “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!”
Daniel looked upon visions from God and stood trembling before Him.
Thomas witnessed the scars of the risen Savior, and His doubts were erased.
John, seeing Jesus on the aisle of Patmos, fell down as though dead.
We cannot come into the presence of God without being changed in some way. The hardened heart will leave God’s presence harder than when it came. The humble heart will walk with God, healed and ready to serve.
Go out—and pour out.
There is a beautiful adaptation of the hymn, “Just as I am” called “Just as I am/I Come Broken,” and this is the middle section:
I come broken to be mended
I come wounded to be healed
I come desperate to be rescued
I come empty to be filled
I come guilty to be pardoned
By the blood of Christ the Lamb
And I’m welcomed with open arms
Praise God, just as I am
When Jesus gives us healing, strength, or any gifts such as these, it is not for our benefit alone. Our healing should be used to strengthen us in His service; our “filling” should be poured into others; our rescue should magnify His power. Whatever transformation He pours into our lives should then be poured into His service.
Do not bury His gifts in the ground! Invest them in His service and allow Him to bring about the increase.
So come, just as you are, but don’t remain as you are. Know the Lord, and be transformed.
But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.
~ 2 Corinthians 3.16-18, ESV