I read in the book of Mark today a very familiar story. It’s the one about the paralytic who had some pretty amazing friends. Jesus was speaking to a crowd so large that there wasn’t even room to enter through the front door. No elbow room here. The man could not get in to see Jesus because he was physically unable to move his own body. That was the first challenge. The second problem came in the form of a crowded room. He had friends, though. Friends who knew his deep need, knew that Jesus could help him, and cared so profoundly for him that they had to get him to Jesus.
When the front door didn’t work, they resorted to the roof. They “removed the roof above where He was. And when they had broken through, they lowered the mat on which the paralytic was lying”. These friends had some unshakeable faith and some serious tenacity. They literally would not take “no” for an answer when it came to getting their friend to Jesus.
As I read this encounter this morning, I was struck by the following verse: “Seeing their faith, Jesus told the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven.'” This is followed by words directed at the Pharisees in response to their questioning whether or not Jesus had any right to forgive sins. Leave it to the Pharisees to have an argument while a man comes through the roof! Jesus then heals the man.
Let’s go back to the faith part. The faith of the friends.I think these four friends are pretty spectacular. They gave up their day and physically worked hard to get their friend to Jesus. Even though seeing Jesus was impossible, they found a way. I get the impression that these friends knew the paralytic very well. Perhaps they had watched him live with this disability and had felt his pain with him.
Bring Them To Jesus
I want to be like them. I want to be the type of friend who has lived with the needs of others and loves them so deeply that, no matter the obstacles, I’m bringing them to Jesus, especially, when they have no strength to do so on their own. When my friends are strapped for faith, I want to carry the load. I want to know them so well, that I actually know when they are in need.
Are They Really “My People”?
Can I be this for the people I so enthusiastically call “my people”? Am I willing to inconvenience myself for the benefit of a friend or a neighbor? Am I willing to be inconvenienced for the sake of my friends’ spiritual, physical, or emotional well-being? I may not tear a physical roof off a building or lower them down on a mat but can my friends count on my prayers of faith to hold them up when they are too weak to pray for themselves? Can they count on that text message of encouragement or the card in the mail that lifts their spirits? Can they rely on that meal or offer to babysit when they are too overwhelmed to know which way is up? Do my actions reflect those of the 4 friends? Or do I spend my time, like the pharisees, focused on the law instead of on active compassion.
I want to be like the four friends. I really do.
Help me to live like the 4 friends lived. I want to live with sacrificial love as the banner of my heart. Help me to see beyond the every day inconvenience to the eternal impact of a simple text message or unexpected meal or card in the mail. May I find myself on my knees more than using my fingers to tap, tap the “I’ll pray for you” comments on Facebook. May I truly know my neighbors and my friends to the point of knowing their needs and desires. Help me to walk with them through their most paralyzing days and rejoice with them in the miraculous days that follow. And when my faith waivers, may I be so richly blessed to benefit from the love, faith and strength of those carrying my mat and ripping off roofs to get me to Jesus. And like the man in the story, whether it’s my miracle or the miracle of a friend, may You be glorified.