This blog post is part of my year-long series of posts on the New Testament. My church is on a year-long journey called Project 3:45, where we are reading the New Testament together this year. To join in, click here.
Luke 5:20 says, “When Jesus saw their faith, he said, ‘Friend, your sins are forgiven.”
When Jesus SAW their faith? How is it possible to “see” someone’s faith? Isn’t faith an internal thing, something in our heads and in our hearts? Doesn’t faith mean “believing the unbelievable?” Isn’t faith an intellectual act of affirming certain things to be true about Jesus with our minds? Those things are all internal, and are impossible to see, which leaves us with two possible solutions to how Jesus “saw” their faith:
1) Jesus is a Jedi (as I’ve always suspected), and he can read people’s minds and use the Jedi Mind Trick to get them to think what he wants them to think. Yes, Jesus is a psychic Jedi, able to perceive and understand our innermost thoughts and feelings, see our minds, and that’s how he knew about the faith of the people in this story.
2) We need to revise our definition of faith, because what Jesus means by faith and what we mean by faith are totally different things. In our culture, we have come to understand that faith equals belief. Marcus Borg, in the book The Heart of Christianity, says, “That Christian faith is about belief is a rather odd notion, when you think about it. It suggests that what God really cares about is the beliefs in our heads – as if “believing the right things” is what God is most looking for…faith as belief is relatively powerless. You can believe all the right things and still be in bondage. You can believe all the right things and still be miserable. You can believe all the right things and still be relatively unchanged.”
It’s possible to believe all the right things and still do all the wrong things. Maybe what’s more important and pleasing to God isn’t what we believe in our heads, but what we say with our lives. In this case here in Luke 5, what these people did in bringing their friend to Jesus, climbing up on a roof, lowering him down at Jesus’ feet, stopping at nothing to do what needed to be done, THAT was their faith. Maybe faith is something that CAN be seen because at its core it’s not something that we think, but instead something that we live.
God, may my faith move from my head and my heart to my hands and my feet.