By Callie Gean
The Faith Of Friends
I love the different perspectives that the Gospels provide of certain stories. Unlike previous ‘Quite a Character’ studies focusing on a single individual, this week we will focus on a group of characters/friends that I want to strive to be like.
The determination and presence of the friends who lowered the paralytic through the roof to get to Jesus is both inspiring and convicting. The account of this event can be found in three places, Luke 5:17-26 / Matthew 9:2-8 / Mark 2:1-12.
‘Some men brought to him a paralysed man, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the man, ‘Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.’ At this, some of the teachers of the law said to themselves, ‘This fellow is blaspheming!’ Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said, ‘Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts? Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.’ So, he said to the paralysed man, ‘Get up, take your mat and go home.’ Then the man got up and went home. When the crowd saw this, they were filled with awe; and they praised God, who had given such authority to man.’ Matthew 9:2-8
In Matthew, we get the basic story that the friends carried the man to Jesus to be healed.
‘One day Jesus was teaching, and Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there. They had come from every village of Galilee and from Judea and Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was with Jesus to heal the sick. Some men came carrying a paralysed man on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus. When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus. When Jesus saw their faith, he said, ‘Friend, your sins are forgiven.’ The Pharisees and the teachers of the law began thinking to themselves, ‘Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?’ Jesus knew what they were thinking and asked, ‘Why are you thinking these things in your hearts? Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.’ So, he said to the paralysed man, ‘I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.’ Immediately he stood up in front of them, took what he had been lying on and went home praising God. Everyone was amazed and gave praise to God. They were filled with awe and said, ‘We have seen remarkable things today.’ Luke 5:17-26
In Luke, we see a bit more detail of the effort these friends made. The crowd was so large they couldn’t get in to Jesus, so they lowered him in from the roof. But it is Mark’s version of the story that really challenges me.
‘A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. They gathered in such large numbers that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them. Some men came, bringing to him a paralysed man, carried by four of them. Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralysed man, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven.’ Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, ‘Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?’ Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, ‘Why are you thinking these things? Which is easier: to say to this paralysed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’? But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.’ So, he said to the man, ‘I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.’ He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, ‘We have never seen anything like this!’ Mark 2:1-12
It was clearly no simple or convenient task getting the man to Jesus. Mark says, ‘after digging through the roof, they lowered him down to Jesus’.
What did the man receive apart from physical healing?
What did Jesus see that moved Him to offer more?
Do you KNOW your friends’ needs?
These friends knew to what extent this man physically needed Jesus. They were present in his life; they knew his struggles and his needs. They were going to stop at nothing to see that he got to the Healer.
‘Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfil the law of Christ.’ Galatians 6:2
We are told in this passage to ‘carry each other’s burdens’. Carrying each other’s burdens doesn’t remove the pain but rather means we point each other to Christ and are there for each other through the pain.
What investment and effort does this require of us?
Needs: Physical And Spiritual
While some of us have physical needs at different times in life, we all have daily spiritual needs that will only be resolved through Jesus Christ and His love. And the good news for us is that we don’t have to carry other’s burdens or our own alone!
‘Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.’ 1 Peter 5:7
What is the awesome promise of this verse?
We live in a busy world and most of us have many ‘friends’. Let’s strive to be like the friends in this story. Let’s be in each other’s lives enough to….
1. Know our friends needs/struggles.
2. Be willing to be ‘burdened’ by those needs.
3. Be willing to point (and carry) our friends to Christ.
At the very least, let’s be friends who are in constant prayer for each other’s physical needs. But more importantly, let us pray for other’s spiritual needs on a daily basis and do our best to carry those in any way we can! Let’s be willing to ‘dig through life’ to point our friends to Jesus.
Questions For Reflection
Bringing our friends to Christ may require ‘digging’.
Have you ever stopped in your attempts to bring a friend to the feet of Christ when you discovered that you might ‘have to do some digging’?
How does this passage challenge you in this respect?
The Gospel accounts of this paralysed man centres around bringing someone physically ill to Jesus. Galatians 6:2, however, speaks to ‘bearing each other’s burdens’ in the context of a Christian brother or sister struggling with sin.
How are the principles of each of the passages similar despite one referencing physical struggles and the other referencing spiritual struggles?
One friend required four friends to lift him to the Saviour.
What does this say about the necessity of community?