There are many portraits in this world that help us understand the gospel, but there is a place most of us would never think to look – the oval office. You want a picture of the gospel? Just look at the President!
Don’t worry, this is not an indictment on Obama, nor is this a debate about the faith of Bush or Clinton. No, the person I want to highlight is Franklin Delano Roosevelt (F.D.R.). It was not his faith in God (of which I have no knowledge), but “the picture” of the (former) president.
In 1921, at age 39, Roosevelt contracted Poliomyelitis (Polio for short), an acute viral disease. He was paralyzed and would never walk again. Whenever most people conjure up “pictures” of him in their mind, they remember him in a wheel chair, unable to get up. But what does this have to do with the gospel? Everything.
In Luke 6, we see portraits of the gospel. The Bible records physical healing and deliverance of all kinds of people. This is picture of how God brings salvation to sinners. One such picture is found in Luke 6:6-11. Jesus is in the synagogue and Jesus tells a man with a withered hand to stretch his hand forward. The way I have always understood this passage in the past was that the man with the withered hand had faith, and exercised his faith, THEN Jesus healed his hand. What is good about a “You take one step and God will take two steps gospel? The text said that the man had a withered hand. The word “withered” in that context means, “Infantile Paralysis,” an old synonym for Poliomyelitis (Polio). That man could no more stretch out his hand than Roosevelt could get out of his wheelchair. Jesus had to heal the man’s hand first, then he could stretch it forward. The man with the withered hand is “picture” of the condition of man’s inability to come to Christ. God is the author and finisher of our salvation, and any repentance of faith we have, is a gift from Him. “For by Grace you have been saved through faith; it is a gift from God.
We can mask and dress up our sin. We can play with our electronics and forget that we are spiritually paralyzed – unable to come to God on our own. But when we look at the portrait of Roosevelt, we are reminded of how hopeless our condition is without the power of God. If you are a believer be encourage that it is good who works in you for His good pleasure, and if you are not, then repent and believe the good news of Jesus Christ.
Brian L. Spivey — D.O.C.