Equations of Grace

” . . . but finding no way to bring (the paralyzed man) in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down with his bed through the tiles into the middle of the crowd in front of Jesus.” – Luke 5:19

Sunday School pictures of this story tend to focus on the final, dramatic moment of the paralyzed man being lowered through the roof.  But before he could be let down into the crowd, the paralyzed man’s friends had to make a man-sized hole in the tiles.  And before that, they got him up to the rooftop via, I presume, a ladder.  However did they do that? Did one very strong guy, a first century paramedic, swing him over one shoulder? Did they make an assembly line?  Did they construct an elaborate system of pulleys and ropes?

My husband is not paralyzed, but his muscular dystrophy leaves his muscles pretty weak. Lifting him and his wheelchair over even one unexpected step can be a herculean task involving all available muscle, will and understanding of physics. My head gets so full of equations (slope plus velocity plus sweat equals man over step) that I can forget to breathe and remember what really gets us past obstacles: friendship, kindness, prayer.

Read past the Sunday School moment in the fifth chapter of Luke and you will hear Jesus forgive the paralyzed man’s sin and then be accused of blasphemy.  Those around him have their heads stuffed so full of complicated logistics and convoluted equations that they cannot see how easy the healing math of forgiveness really is: grace equals grace.


Healing Jesus, Thank you for the ease with which you pour out forgiveness.  Help us to receive your grace with hearts and minds open.  Amen.

dd-brownell.pngAbout the Author
Jennifer Brownell is an ordained UCC minister and the author of Swim, Ride, Run, Breathe: How I Lost a Triathlon and Caught My Breath, her inspiring memoir.