All the people were beside themselves with wonder. Filled with awe, they glorified God, saying, “We’ve seen unimaginable things today.” (Luke 5:26, CEB)
In the stretch of verses I read today (Luke 5:12-39), Jesus does the following unimaginable thing: he heals a leper by forgiving his sins, in front of a gathering of legal experts and Pharisees. It’s moderately amazing that he heals the man; he already has a reputation for making people well. It’s unimaginable that a person would presume to forgive sins.
Later he appalls the Pharisees and legal experts further by eating dinner with tax collectors.
Really, if he’s a good person, a man of God, why is he hanging around with those traitors? Why is he going out to dinner parties? He has already started to diverge from John the Baptist, although the question coming directly from his cousin happens later in the gospel.
I grew up with a lot of rules for behavior, particularly around the dinner table. I wonder if that’s one of the reasons I so loved the story of the man whose friends dug through the roof (according to Mark) or moved the roof tiles (in Luke’s telling) to lower him right into the room to see Jesus? Sometimes faithful necessity transcends the accepted rules of social engagement.
Today in our town, members of the local Muslim community are standing in front of the public library (as they are in many other public venues across the country), holding signs that say “Ask me anything.”
Jesus did this all the time. He went to the places where people gathered, and he responded to their questions. Some responded favorably, awed by his works and his words.
Others retreated to plot against him.
For some people, speaking to a Muslim person may seem unimaginable, perhaps in part because they don’t know any. Today it is distinctly imaginable.
Holy One, help me to see the unimaginable transcendent good in the world rather than being caught in the everyday transgressive bad things I have been taught to note and avoid. Amen.
I’m reading and blogging about Luke for Lent. Want to read along? The full schedule can be found here.