Mark’s Gospel (Mark 2:1-12) tells an incredible story about four men carrying a paralyzed friend to Jesus. We don’t even know their relationship to the paralyzed man or what became of them afterward.
Nor are we told how far they traveled to perform such an act of kindness or what it cost them. Yet it’s apparent that no distance was too far, no cost too great, and no complication too much. Despite the difficulty and inconvenience confronting them, this quartet was determined to get their friend to Jesus.
I can’t help wondering what it must have been like to be the paralyzed man. To rely on others for everything. To never be able to stand on his own and stretch, or enjoy a change of scenery without troubling others. Did he ever feel anything besides helplessness, humiliation, isolation, frustration, or despair? How did he react when his friends grabbed the four corners of his cot and headed out the door with him? Was he excited, frightened, or embarrassed when they started lowering him through the hole? We can’t know the answers to these questions, but one thing is certain. When Jesus beheld the one who’d landed safely at His feet, He saw the truth—that the man’s paralysis was deeper and more pervasive than it appeared. Within that withered body was a crippled soul, paralyzed by sin and shrunken from shame.
However, the crippled man before Him wasn’t the only thing that Jesus observed. He also saw the spirited, sweaty faces of four desperate men peering down at Him through a hole—men whose faith was bold, earnest, insistent, and seemingly indifferent to social consequences. He saw four men who would not be denied, whose bloody knuckles offered proof that they would stop at nothing. Four filthy faces, craving a miracle. Panting with anticipation. Wide-eyed with hope. Apparently, it wasn’t what Jesus heard that arrested His heart. It was what He saw that moved Him. They destroyed someone’s property, interrupted Jesus while He was talking, and aggravated the people who were listening. Their trust in Jesus’ power to heal their paralyzed friend moved the Lord’s tender heart.
One of the greatest privileges, and oftentimes most difficult challenges, is bringing people to Christ. But it is worth every ounce of labor. Hopefully, you won’t have to dig through any roofs to do it, but you may have to break down some walls of ignorance, misunderstanding, pride, prejudice, and past hurts. You may have to get dirty, use your head, adjust your schedule, modify your budget, swallow your pride, and creatively use your gifts. But like the four men in Mark’s Gospel, you won’t be disappointed. (FIL ANDERSON)