Updated: Feb 22, 2019
My son’s favorite Bible story is found in three of the four gospels. I like Luke’s version best, personally. It’s the account of Jesus healing a paralyzed man after this man’s friends lowered him down through a hole in the roof. Here is the entire story from Luke 5:17-26 (NLT):
17 One day while Jesus was teaching, some Pharisees and teachers of religious law were sitting nearby. (It seemed that these men showed up from every village in all Galilee and Judea, as well as from Jerusalem.) And the Lord’s healing power was strongly with Jesus.
18 Some men came carrying a paralyzed man on a sleeping mat. They tried to take him inside to Jesus, 19 but they couldn’t reach him because of the crowd. So they went up to the roof and took off some tiles. Then they lowered the sick man on his mat down into the crowd, right in front of Jesus. 20 Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the man, “Young man, your sins are forgiven.”
21 But the Pharisees and teachers of religious law said to themselves, “Who does he think he is? That’s blasphemy! Only God can forgive sins!”
22 Jesus knew what they were thinking, so he asked them, “Why do you question this in your hearts? 23 Is it easier to say ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or ‘Stand up and walk’? 24 So I will prove to you that the Son of Man[a] has the authority on earth to forgive sins.” Then Jesus turned to the paralyzed man and said, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and go home!”
25 And immediately, as everyone watched, the man jumped up, picked up his mat, and went home praising God. 26 Everyone was gripped with great wonder and awe, and they praised God, exclaiming, “We have seen amazing things today!”
I find the story remarkable. I am preparing to preach on this very story on Sunday. It’s a message similar to the blog I wrote a few weeks ago titled, FAITH LIKE A FERRARI. In preparing for this sermon I started to think…
Who am I in the scene?
There are plenty of characters in the story. We are most like one of them. Exclude Jesus (because nobody is more like Jesus than any of other people found in these ten verses) and think about who you are in the scene. To me there are four choices.
THE CROWD We might be someone the in crowd. We may be so curious about Jesus that we just want to be around him. We just want to be in the vicinity of the Savior on the off chance he decides to do something crazy! Like, heal a crippled man. We have a healthy interest in Jesus and want to know as much about him as possible. This is not a bad position to find yourself.
THE PARALYZED MAN We could be more like the crippled man. The text doesn’t say that the crippled man was yelling at passersby to be carried to Christ. When don’t even know how long he’s been paralyzed. Since birth? Since an accident? We don’t know. We just know he’s defined by his mat. He is known by his condition and it looks like he’s completely helpless. He’s stuck. Are we? Are we in need of a helping hand? Jesus is right over there… yet the crippled man never pursued. You can still be blessed this way. After all, the dude gets forgiven and healed all in about three minutes. But, this is not a good place to be, even though the crippled man eventually becomes a major focus of the story.
THE FOUR FRIENDS We could be like the four friends. We could be the people LOOKING to help. LOOKING to bring others to God. LOOKING for chances to make a Godly connection. Even when things get hard (like finding there was no way in past the crowd) are we so desperate to exercise our faith that we take the stairs and tear up a roof for a buddy? They never saw roadblocks. The made detours to Jesus. He was that important to them. Verse 20 said Jesus saw THEIR FAITH and it led to the paralyzed man’s forgiveness. We can’t MAKE others become Christians. They must make that choice on their own. But, we can be an incredible example and helpful witness that gets people to the feet of Jesus. I hope we’re like the four friends.
THE PHARISEES Or, lastly, we could be like the Pharisees. JUUUUUST close enough to Jesus, thinking that we are in the know, that we miss the entire point of life. Oh, I hope that’s not me. I hope it’s not you, either. I hope we don’t spend so much time trying to get everyone to follow our man-made rules that we miss the miracle happening right in front of us. Too many modern-day customs blur our view on true faith. Was the music too loud at worship? Too fast? Too slow? Were the lines too long in the parking lot? No donuts in the lobby? Did the preacher not talk about something that hit your bullseye this week during his or her sermon? Do we spend more time complaining than worshiping? Do we miss Jesus right in front of us because we’re too concerned about “doing church” properly? I hope not.
We all related most to one of those four options. The good news is all of them had proximity to Jesus. But, there is a very big difference between all four: The crowd who rushes to be around Jesus out of curiosity. The paralyzed man who sits around and sees life pass him by. The friends who inject themselves into the situation for God’s glory. Or, the Pharisees who are so concerned with appearances and religion that they miss out on true relationship.