Recently a colleague spoke from the story of the Paralytic in Luke 5. Most sermons I have ever heard focus on the healing but this time I heard something different. In the story we see a huge crowd, religious leaders and people from all the surrounding towns and villages have come to hear Christ. They crowded into a house until there was no room. We can imagine people gawking through windows, children in trees trying to peer in and see this Jesus. A scene of anticipation and excitement, “Jesus is here!”.
Into this scene, in the periphery we see a group of friends come down the road, carrying something between them. They are moving with purpose, single-mindedness. They come to the house and see there is no way for them to enter. Their hopes momentarily dashed. And then one says, “Wait! I have an idea!” and we see them push and mutter, “excuse me, pardon me…” until they are on the stairs to the roof. Those around them just scoff and snicker, “crazy guys, the view is no good up there”. Reaching the top, they knelt down, gently setting their friend down on the hot plaster roof, they began to scratch with their finger nails, with sticks and rocks until they all saw what the idea was and with an upsurge in excitement and expectation they all dug, carving and ripping at the roof. Dirt flying, plaster and sticks that once separated them now lay by the side and they pier down the hole–a hole just big enough to lower their hurting friend to Jesus. Anxiously waiting for the disciples to run up the stairs and chase them away they hurriedly tied ropes and lowered their dear friend down at the feet of Jesus.
We have always pictured and imaged the one on the stretcher, as he looks in to the eyes of Jesus and instead of Jesus saying ‘get up and be healed’ he says, “Man, your sins are forgiven”. We can picture the tears rolling down his face. Can we also picture the friends, exhausted, laying on their backs on the roof, hearing those words, crying in joy to know their friend is forgiven. Knowing what was most important was done. Jesus had forgiven the man they loved.
But we know the scene doesn’t end there. When the Pharisees and Sadducees heard this they cried out in dismay, “Who is this who speak blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone?” And Jesus, hearing their HEARTS confronts them…openly. And i can imagine the friends on the roof heard this and smiles and joy broke over their faces. But then Jesus turns back to the man on the mat and says, “…rise, pick up your mat and rise”. And he DID! He got up and went home praising God.
I can imagine the friends on the roof racing down, embracing the man, singing, crying, leaping, knowing Jesus had done so much more than just heal the man.
But what strikes me is the faith of the friends and some of the things the friends displayed.
- They didn’t judge their friend. Many in that time would have blamed the man’s problem on sin or being cursed. These friends didn’t. They just knew he needed to see Jesus.
- The friends were tenacious, creative and dedicated to bringing the man to Jesus, no matter what obstacle or challenge, they HAD TO get their friend to Jesus.
- Their faith. IN verse 20 it says, ‘when he saw their faith…’ not the faith of the sick man. Can we see Jesus bending and looking up through the broken roof and seeing the faces of the friends and knowing the faith that brought the man before him? (I can)
And all this leaves me with a few questions… am I really bringing people to Jesus without judgement? Am I using creativity and being tenacious in leading them to His feet? Do i judge those I claim to serve?
Father, forgive me for when i have given up. Forgive me for when i judged others, even as i tried to bring them to Christ. Forgive me for not being creative or open to new or different ways of ministry to the hurting lost…and paralyzed.
May I be like the friends in the story.
And may we all be found at His feet getting exactly what we need…