Out On The Tiles

In October of 1970, Led Zeppelin released
their third album, appropriately titled “Led
Zeppelin III” (for what it is worth, the first two
albums were titled “Led Zeppelin” [later
known as Led Zeppelin I], and “Led Zeppelin
II,” respectively. Their fourth album was
called—believe it or not—“Led Zeppelin IV.”
After that they got a little more creative in
naming their albums). The band had already
become insanely popular worldwide, so the
album was a smash hit. On that third album
was a song called “Out on the Tiles.” Great
song, great instrumentation. In fact, it has
always been their instrumentation that has
drawn me to their music. Something I have
never understood, however, is this: what in
the world does the title “Out on the Tiles”
have to do with the song itself [NB: as a longtime Zeppelin fan, I can say that many, many
of their songs have “odd” titles that seem to
bear no relationship to the lyrics, etc.]? Maybe
someone with more knowledge about this will
illuminate me.
In Luke 5 there is a wonderful and familiar
story about some folks who went “out on the
tiles.” In this story, Jesus is somewhere
teaching. Luke does not specify for us the city
or town, or even a location within that city or
town. There is certainly a chance that Jesus is
in the synagogue, since he regularly attends
to read scripture and to teach. But Luke
typically indicates when events occur on a
Sabbath, and in this particular case he does
not do so, so I personally doubt it is a
Saturday at the synagogue. To be honest, if
you read carefully, you will see that in every
way Luke is vague about the timing in this
story.

Luke tells us that among those in the
audience that day are some Pharisees and
scribes, and it is undoubtedly a large group
of them. They have come from several
different places, he writes. Some from
Galilee. Some from Judea. Some even
from Jerusalem. “From every village” of
those areas, too. The fact that religious
leaders and legal experts travel from that
last location—Jerusalem—to observe
Jesus in his ministry is a clear sign that
things are already becoming serious. The
concern about this Nazarene has reached
fever pitch.
As Jesus is teaching, Luke describes
some men carrying a bed containing a
paralyzed man. Their purpose is to bring
this incapacitated man into the presence of
Jesus. The text tells us, however, that the
crowd is so large that they have trouble
getting him to Jesus. That is when they get
creative. Refusing to be deterred or
discouraged, they go up onto the roof.
Luke says it this way, “finding no way to
bring him in, because of the crowd, they
went up on the roof and let him down with
his bed through the tiles.”
As always, there are interesting and
fantastic little details in this story (we will
address some of these during the sermon).
But more important than a focus on these
small details is a focus on the faith of these
men (Mark is the only one who numbers
them, by the way. He says it was four
men). Jesus was so impressed by their
faith, in fact, that he pronounced a double
healing. He healed the man of his sin, then
he healed the man of his paralysis. This
story never gets old.
How far are we willing to go to come
into the presence of Jesus? What are we
willing to do to ensure others also come
into his presence? Are we willing to go “out
on the tiles?”
–Ricky

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