FAITH: Bringing down roofs to raise up needy lives
How far would someone go to help his friend in dire need or a crisis in life?
The Gospel of Mark relates an incident in which four friends engaged in a challenging act that rehabilitated a buddy of theirs from a life of uselessness to one of all-round productivity.
While Jesus was speaking in a crowded home one day, a listener jumped to his feet and interrupted him in the middle of his sermon.
He pointed an angry finger at a wooden stick poking through the ceiling of the crowded home.
Other leaders rose angrily to watch the drama taking place in front of their eyes.
The sticks of the roof were breaking and an ever-widening hole appeared in the ceiling, spraying chips of clay and dust over the people below as they moved for cover.
Within minutes, the onlookers watched four pairs of hands come through the opening, removing roof tiles.
Soon those hands lowered into the room a stretcher bearing a man who lay motionless.
The man was hurting in more ways than one.
He was suffering from severe paralysis resulting from damage to the brain or spinal cord.
He was incapable of doing anything for himself and utterly depended upon the help of the friends.
But, his need for wholeness went beyond his physical problem.
The story reveals he was also hurting spiritually and was a sinner in need of forgiveness.
A closer look at the four men who brought their friend to Jesus reveals they were just ordinary men who had a friend in need of help from Jesus.
How can these men help us in the work of bringing our friends to Jesus?
First, these friends had high-visibility faith.
They really believed Jesus would do something for their invalid friend.
And, Jesus began ministering to the sick man when he saw his friends’ faith.
Their faith didn’t have any halo or a large “F” written on their foreheads.
It was much more down-to-earth than that.
Jesus looked at the hole in the ceiling, the chunks of clay and dust covering the floor, four sweat-stained faces staring down at Him and a man in need of wholeness at His feet.
Now, that’s faith.
Jesus associated faith with doing something, not just sitting still and mouthing sweet-sounding promises.
We find the same idea in James 2:14-26, which states “faith without action is dead.”
Secondly, we learn from these four men that their love for the sick friend cost them something.
It cost them personal time and, perhaps, money to repair the damage to the roof.
They also ran a high risk of being ridiculed for their actions.
Busting the ceiling in middle of a high-level religious discourse is not generally acceptable behaviour.
In spite of the costs involved, the men viewed their friend with compassion and said, “It’s worth it to get him to Jesus.”
Finally, notice that Jesus rewarded their faith and love by ministering to him.
To the astonishment of the self-righteous scribes, Jesus pronounced the invalid’s sins forgiven.
Then, Jesus underscored his words of forgiveness by restoring the man’s physical health.
Faith and love, which paid the price, resulted in wholeness for a man with four faithful friends.
All of us have at least one friend who needs Jesus.
Maybe our friend is not paralyzed or living a life of gross sin, but even people in best of health, living moral lives, need wholeness only Jesus can give.
As we think about our desire to bring our friends or family members to Jesus, let’s ask ourselves two questions:
• Do we really believe Jesus can make our friends whole?
• Am I willing to pay the cost to bring my friend to Jesus?
Wouldn’t it be great if Jesus could see our active faith and minister to our friends as he did for the four men?
Let us stand ready to bust a hole in any roof to make it happen.
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