I was the plant. Usually, they wouldn't let me into the meetings. I was an outsider. Worse than that, I was unfit, there was no way people wanted me around. Maybe God had seen that I'd be a sinner, that I'd resent it. This useless claw of a hand. I can't work - I've tried, believe me! I mean, I can do some small tasks: I'm not complaining - I know people worse off, who have to beg by the gate of the synagogue. But I shouldn't go inside. It's not technically forbidden, I know, but I must be a bad sinner to have this happen to me, so no-one wants me around. I sometimes have thought, secretly thought, that perhaps God doesn't mind - after all, didn't He say that He didn't choose us because we were greater than other nations, so perhaps he might also bless someone weak, and foolish, and even sinful as I am. But they say that is blasphemy, so I must repent: who am I to think on the Scriptures when they know them by heart? And yet I hope... But hope is dangerous.
I've heard of this teacher, this Jesus. He's a northerner, they say - comes from Nazareth, which is a bit strange if you ask me. I mean, you don't get teachers and holy men from round there - you get, labourers, and, well, guys like me. Stands to reason they don't like him. But they say he heals... But hope is dangerous.
I'm their plant, you see. I knew it - what they were doing, but forgive me, Lord, I just wanted it too badly. I knew he could heal me, that he was from God! Or at least, I'm not sure I knew, but they said, and... I hoped. I'm sorry, hope is dangerous. I didn't want to get him in trouble.
They don't like him healing on the Sabbath. He seems to heal not just to care for people - though they say he does care for people - but he uses every opportunity to wind Them up! I don't understand what he's doing, this Jesus. The other day - I heard the other day... but you never can quite trust what you hear. Except I heard from an old friend and he would never make something up like that - he knows how much it would mean to me, he knows, well, that hope is dangerous. And he said that this paralysed begger had been brought to Jesus, and he said his sins were forgiven! So when they dragged me into the meeting, I knew I was their plant. But I hoped, oh I hoped that someone who forgave sin might forgive mine - even the set-up! And might heal me. I'm sorry. But hope is dangerous.
So I was there - they'd even made me sit in full view, up front where I should never be. And Jesus was teaching. He taught the Scriptures like... like he wrote them himself, he knew them so well, and preached so clearly, not like he was just repeating them, but not like he was adding to them either - it was like he was the Scriptures just breathing them out there and then! But that's blasphemy, I think. I'm not sure: his authority is over my head. Not that I was taking in much, mind - I was all over the place, so scared, for me, for him; but hopeful. He saw me and knew. He could see them watching. So in the middle of his teaching, he turned to me - that was a shock even though I expected it - I was so into what he'd been saying! He told me to come and stand up there, and I was waiting for the rebuke: he sounded a bit angry. I'd nothing to lose - it's not as if chucking me out of the meeting would make a difference. But I didn't want to offend him. He's different. So I was hoping.
And then - this was brilliant - he just said to them, "I ask you, is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to destroy it?" And he just looked round at them all, and then turned to me again, and I wanted to say, "I'm sorry, I know I'm a plant and that's rotten but they kind of made me and I shouldn't even be here, and you know I'm such a sinner, but maybe, just maybe, forgive me?" But he didn't give me a chance. Maybe he knew it. He just said, "Stretch out your hand." And that was strange - that was the problem! I hadn't done that for as long as I can remember! But the funny thing was then, I didn't even give it a second thought. I just obeyed. And it happened! My hand was whole, and working - the muscles, I pulled my fingers in and out and it was strong just like my other! But his grin at me was better - almost, almost like he knew I'd hoped even though it would get him in trouble, and as though he liked that I'd hoped.
I thought they'd want to chuck me out officially, but when it came to it they were so angry they were too busy plotting what to do with Jesus so they forgot about me. And anyway, who needs a place to meet God when you've got Jesus? But maybe that's blasphemy... I don't know. I'm off with him now, anyway!
[Reflecting on Luke 5-6.11]
Awake, O Sleeper
3 hours ago