By Wally Odum
While ministry has those moments that make us smile, the truly satisfying aspect of ministry is the joy of seeing someone’s life changed through an encounter with Jesus. Mark, in his Gospel, records a classic example of that.
“Some men came, bringing to him a paralytic, 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 and, after digging through it, lowered the mat the paralyzed man was lying on. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven.’” (Mark 2:3-5)
This miracle is significant because it not only shows the power of Jesus, and His grace to those who need Him, but it shows the way we can be part of His ministry.
There is tenderness in the way Jesus greeted the paralyzed man. The man was a sinner. That is clear because one of the things Jesus did was forgive his sin. Now his friends had lowered him into the presence of Jesus, the holiest man who ever lived. That would be intimidating. He was paralyzed, had been dropped through the roof, and now lay helpless in front of the very Son of God. Understanding the man’s dilemma, Jesus first said to him, “Take heart, son.” (Matthew 9:2) What a comforting thing to say to a sinful man who had interrupted His teaching session. Jesus literally meant, “There’s nothing to fear here.”
How many times have we thought of God as Someone to fear? Ashamed of our sins, we too often avoid His presence, when His presence is the safest place for us to be. While Jesus would eventually forgive the man’s sin and heal his paralysis, He began by removing the man’s fear.
Anyone could see that the man was paralyzed. Jesus would deal with that. What no one else could see was the condition of the man’s heart. Jesus started there. He probed deeper than anyone else could have. He does that for us, too. He goes right to the root problem and deals with that first. Jesus begins His dealings with us by removing our fear of Him and taking our sin away.
When Jesus finally said, “Get up, take your mat and go home,” the man did something he hadn’t been able to do. The natural response to that would have been, “I can’t do that, I’m paralyzed.” The paralyzed man didn’t say that. He attempted something that had been impossible before and stood to his feet. That’s what happens to us when fear and guilt are removed. We aren’t afraid to attempt the impossible.
The unique aspect of this story is the four friends and the lengths to which they went to help their friend. He was paralyzed and couldn’t have gotten to Jesus on his own. He needed the help of friends who cared enough about him to carry his limp body to the place where Jesus was ministering.
The most amusing part of the entire story is the method the men used to get help for their friend. The building was so crowded that they couldn’t get inside. So they climbed the stairs on the outside of the house, with their friend in tow, and dug a hole in the roof large enough to accommodate a man’s bed. They tore up a roof to get their friend to Jesus. Those four desperate men did something that violated every principle of property rights. They destroyed a man’s house. Anyone who destroys someone else’s roof is a lawbreaker. We may have expected Jesus to look up and say, “Vandals!” He didn’t. Mark says that He looked up and “saw their faith.”
We live in a world where people are hurting. They are swamped by shame, guilt and condemnation. They need someone to carry them to Jesus. When we came to Jesus, someone carried us. Some people will never get to Jesus unless they’re carried. As you walk through life this week, be alert for opportunities to be the one who carries a paralyzed person to Him.
© Wally Odum 2011, used with permission.
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Pastor Wally Odum has been in ministry for thirty years and loves to share the Gospel. He brings a relevant, inspirational approach to the Bible. Wally values relevance, but he also values authenticity. His goal is to make Biblical truth relevant to the lives of all who hear him.
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