“Soon the house where [Jesus] was staying was so packed with visitors that there was no more room, even outside the door. While he was preaching God’s word to them, four men arrived carrying a paralyzed man on a mat. They couldn’t bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, so they dug a hole through the roof above his head. Then they lowered the man on his mat, right down in front of Jesus” (Mark 2:2-4, NLT).
It helps to know a little about house architecture in the Middle East. Ralph Gower in his book The New Manners & Customs of Bible Times (2005), writes, “Initially homes were made with sun-dried mud bricks, but technology advanced until it was possible to fire the bricks in a kiln, and until rough stone and rubble houses were being built… the (flat) roof was constructed by laying brushwood across rough sycamore beams and binding them together by using mud.” Thus, face with a wall-to-wall crowd in the house and limited access to the doorways, the friends (“four men”) devised a desperate plan. They would go up on the roof, figure out where Jesus was standing below, “dug a hole through the roof,” and lower their friend in front of the Lord.
Imagine the scene indoors [Pause]. Those listening to Jesus began to notice sound overhead, and then pieces of the ceiling started to rain down. Moments later, an opening appeared and a stretcher was lowered. The crowd, driven back by the debris, had cleared a landing area.
“Seeing their [the four men] faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man, ‘My child, your sins are forgiven.’ But some of the teachers of religious law who were sitting there thought to themselves, ‘What is he saying? This is blasphemy! Only God can forgive sins!’” (Mark 2:5-7). Looking down at the man clearly (obviously!) in need of one kind of healing, Jesus chose instead to offer him first a deeper healing – the forgiveness of sins. Some religious experts accused him of blasphemy, since if he claimed to be able to forgive sins he claimed to be God. Of course, that is exactly who Jesus is. (Read Mark 2:8-12. Here Jesus added significance to his statement of forgiveness. He knew talk was cheap unless he could back it up with action – which he did by freeing the man to skip home joyfully, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and go home!” The paralyzed man was healed!).
Think about this: What caused Jesus to heal the paralyzed man? The faith of the four men (Mark 2:5). Jesus honoured the faith of those friends. Remember, the paralysis of sin is the most deliberating human disease, and people all around us are walking by with the symptoms every day. Many people are spiritually “paralyze,” so the world need more friends like this man – friends that have faith in Jesus. Friends that bring others to Jesus. Moreover, friends that believe in Jesus. How much trouble are you willing to undertake to get your friends to Jesus? Know this: Jesus is all the more ready to forgive our sins and he can perform deep healing in us. Maybe you can be a faithful friend to your friend. And bring him or her to Jesus.
THINK BIG. START SMALL. GO DEEP.