Matthew 9:1–8, Mark 2:1–12, and Luke 5:17–26
Yes, I know this is not the set text for this week, but The Man with the Wibbly-Wobbly Legs is a great passage that is almost entirely absent from the lectionary. It follows last week’s passage in Luke 5, but the lectionary skips straight over this story.
Year A does the same in Matthew, and Mark’s version is only ever read when you get 7 weeks in Epiphany B, which you often don’t.
So, rebellious iconoclast that I am, here is the wrong reading for this week!
Disclaimer: Please be assured that this humorous re-telling of Jesus’ miracle is no way intended to belittle the conditions of paraplegia or paralysis, or to be disrespectful towards those with mobility difficulties.
The Man with the Wibbly-Wobbly Legs
You will need:
- four strips of card or laminated paper, approx 30 cm x 6 cm
- three split-pin fasteners
Punch holes near the ends of the strips and join them into a line with the fasteners. Make sure that the holes are the same distance from the end as from the sides so that the strips form neat right-angles.
Make shapes to illustrate the story when indicated in the script, below. Click for illustrations of the shapes.
|LEGS||Hold by middle joint and swing the lower legs|
|BODY/ ONE||Tuck all four strips behind each other (free ends at bottom for BODY)|
|ARMS||Starting from BODY, open out lower ends|
|HEAD/HOLE||Bend straight line into a full circle|
|JESUS||Bend straight line into a curved J (make sure this is backwards for you)|
|HOUSE||Initially form walls and pointed roof, then pull apart to make flat-roofed house|
|SAYING||Hold BODY horizontally, place finger in middle of strips at open end, push ends together to make middle open in time with speech|
|DOOR||Tuck one strip behind, form remaining strips in to upside-down U|
|WINDOW||Square (on point for medium hole)|
|MAT||Horizontal straight line of four|
|FOUR||Tuck one strip behind, form remaining strips into a backwards 4 shape|
|TRIANGLE||Tuck one strip behind, form remaining strips into a triangle|
|LOWER||Hold MAT high, then fold ends of MAT vertically like ropes and bring downward|
|CHAINS||Bend two strips in a circle towards the centre on each side|
|FREE||Starting from CHAINS, hold one end and release other strips|
|MAN||Horizontal straight line of two (ends in middle)|
|SIT UP||Starting from MAN, lift one end to vertical and extend arms slightly|
|STAND UP||Starting from SIT UP, lift body and arms, allowing legs to straighten|
|PICK UP||Starting from STAND UP, keep legs straight and bend body and arms down|
|FOLD||Starting from MAT, concertina into ONE|
|WALK||As LEGS, but hold at knee joints (knees slightly bent) and walk sideways|
|HEART||Starting from LEGS hold top joint and bend nearer leg over the top to meet other leg, top joint turning upside down|
I’m going to tell you about Jesus and a man with the wibbly-wobbly LEGS. Everytime you see this I want you to say with me “wibbly-wobbly LEGS“.
Here is the story of the man with the wibbly-wobbly LEGS. His BODY was alright. His ARMS were alright. His HEAD was alright. But he did have wibbly-wobbly LEGS.
Now, one day somebody famous came to town. Who do you think it was? Here’s a clue [form J, making sure it is backwards for you]. That’s right JESUS came to town and he went into a HOUSE. Except their houses didn’t look like this. We have pointy roofs on our houses, but they didn’t have that much rain, so they had flat roofs.
Jesus was talking to everyone in the house, SAYING “God loves you very much”, and the HOUSE got more and more crowded. There were people peeping in at the DOOR, there were people leaning in through the WINDOW. It was so crowded that you couldn’t get even ONE more person in.
Our friend with the wibbly-wobbly LEGS has heard about JESUS and knew that Jesus could make his legs better. But how could he get to the HOUSE? All he could do was lie on his MAT all day. He could not walk because of his wibbly-wobbly LEGS.
So he called FOUR friends, and asked them to carry him on his MAT. So they did. But when they got there, of course, the HOUSE was full. The only space was on the flat roof. How could they get all the way up there? Aha! STEPS!
In those days, they put the steps on the outside of the houses. So the friends carried the man on his MAT up the STEPS to the roof of the HOUSE.
What now? Well, they started to dig, and made a hole in the roof. First, they made a little hole [TRIANGLE]. Then they made a bigger hole [WINDOW on point]. Finally, they made the HOLE so big you could get a person through it!
So they got the man on the MAT and LOWERed him down right in front of JESUS.
Jesus looked at the man with the wibbly-wobbly LEGS and said, “Your sin, the things you have done wrong, are like CHAINS locking you up. I forgive you. I set you FREE.”
Some of the people were cross, SAYING, “Only God can forgive sins!”
But Jesus replied, “Which is easier, to forgive sin or to heal this man’s wibbly-wobbly LEGS?” And Jesus said to the MAN, “SIT UP!”, and he sat up. Then Jesus said, “STAND UP!”, and he stood up. Everyone was amazed.
“PICK UP your mat and go home”, said Jesus. The man bent over and picked up his MAT. He FOLDed it neatly, then tucked it under his arm and WALKed home with legs that were perfectly normal and not wibbly or wobbly at all!
He was very happy about his brand new legs, but he was even happier because he knew that Jesus had forgiven him and given him a brand new HEART.
Luke 5:17-26 The Message
One day as he was teaching, Pharisees and religion teachers were sitting around. They had come from nearly every village in Galilee and Judea, even as far away as Jerusalem, to be there. The healing power of God was on him.
Some men arrived carrying a paraplegic on a stretcher. They were looking for a way to get into the house and set him before Jesus. When they couldn’t find a way in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof, removed some tiles, and let him down in the middle of everyone, right in front of Jesus. Impressed by their bold belief, he said, “Friend, I forgive your sins.”
That set the religion scholars and Pharisees buzzing. “Who does he think he is? That’s blasphemous talk! God and only God can forgive sins.”
Jesus knew exactly what they were thinking and said, “Why all this gossipy whispering? Which is simpler: to say ‘I forgive your sins,’ or to say ‘Get up and start walking’? Well, just so it’s clear that I’m the Son of Man and authorized to do either, or both. . . .” He now spoke directly to the paraplegic: “Get up. Take your bedroll and go home.” Without a moment’s hesitation, he did it—got up, took his blanket, and left for home, giving glory to God all the way. The people rubbed their eyes, incredulous—and then also gave glory to God. Awestruck, they said, “We’ve never seen anything like that!”