One of my favorite things about Scripture is its divine ability to pack an unearthed amount of application into just a few verses. We read these passages that become all too familiar, nodding at the obvious application and then go about our day.
Today I want to look at the not-so-obvious application of Mark 2:1-12. Allow me to summarize:
Jesus had been traveling and doing all sorts of miracles, healing the sick, turning water into wine and casting out demons. Basically, He’s getting a lot of attention. Well, He goes back home to Capernaum and people gather in a house where He is preaching. Four friends decide to bring their paralyzed friend to Him for healing, but they can’t get him in front of Jesus because the crowd is so thick. So, naturally they go up to the roof, cut a hole and lower their friend in front of the Healer. Jesus forgives the man’s sins, heals him and then the people marvel and what God has done.
Now, the obvious and most popular application of this excerpt (and rightly so) goes to Christ’s ability to forgive sins, the power of Jesus to heal the sick and His attempt to get the crowds to believe that He was truly the Son of God.
Today, though, indulge me for a few minutes as we take a look at those friends who brought their sick friend to Jesus.
1) I wonder the back story of the paralyzed man. Was he born paralyzed? Was he in an accident? What kind of person has four friends willing to carry you through the city on a cot, tear up a roof and lower you down to the One you know can heal you? Did he convince his friends to take him to Jesus or was it the other way around?
He must have been quite the fella.
2) Let’s talk about these four friends. These four guys agreed together to take their sick friend to Jesus. Nothing was going to stop them. Not the likely attention of those passing by as they carted their friend through the streets. Not the crowd where Jesus was preaching. Not the the roof that was keeping them from getting an audience with The Healer.
Think about the conversation that must have ensued.
Hey Rufus, we can’t get this cot through all of the people, what are we going to do?
You’re right, Doug, what if we cut a hole in the roof and lower him down?
You mean, haul him upstairs, rip up the roof, interrupt the Messiah’s sermon and lower him down in front of Him?
Yep, that’s what I mean.
You know, I think that will work. Let’s do it!
If I were there, I wouldn’t have been so bold. I’d be thinking of alternative methods. They could have told their friend that the crowds were too thick and they could try to wait for Jesus. They could have asked Jesus to come see their friend. They could have just prayed really hard that Jesus would come by and heal him.
There were other options, but not for these guys. They were not taking any chances, they were getting this healing done, now.
If you look into the original text, the phrase, “they removed the roof above Him” actually means, “to dig up“. These guys didn’t just remove a tile or open a sky window. No, these guys went to work.
I know we are thousands of years removed from the culture of the day, but I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that this was a pretty serious faux pas of manners. Once someone saw what they were doing, I’ll bet they ran up there and told them that it’s not nice to put holes in other people’s houses. Maybe they could have been fined or even worse. None of that mattered, these men were not concerned about offending people.
You have to admit this was a gutsy move. How would you feel if you were the home owner and these four guys start tearing up your roof?
I wouldn’t want to be the home owner (try explaining that to your insurance company), but boy would I want those friends as mine. Friends that won’t stop at anything to get you the help you need. Friends that realize Jesus is the only answer to any problem you’re facing and they won’t cave until you realize that too.
3) Throughout Jesus’ whole ministry, His goal was to get people to believe; to have faith that He was in fact, the Son of God.
Jesus was not perturbed at all when His sermon was brutally interrupted. He didn’t scold the men for damaging the house. No, all Jesus saw was, their “faith”.
Jesus saw the golden opportunity to drive His message home with His audience as He asked,
“Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the paralytic—
“I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.”
And he rose and immediately picked up his bed and went out before them all, so that they were all amazed…”
Boom. Mic drop.
Jesus forgave the man’s sins first, because He knew that is what he needed more than physical healing. But our long suffering Savior went a step further and healed his physical need as well, again not for the man, but as an example of faith to those who were considering Jesus as Messiah.
Early in the passage the text says that Jesus was, “preaching the Word” to the crowd. I find it interesting that Mark does not write anything about the sermon Jesus was preaching. Mark only records four men putting their faith in action.
Actions do speak louder than words.
As Christians, we’re quick to give advice, send a verse, shoot up a prayer, share a post about Jesus, but do our daily lives live out the faith we claim to have?
A common phrase I hear in Christian circles is, “Oh, I’ll be praying about that for you.” Yes, prayer can move mountains and you SHOULD always pray, but, if you see the need and have the means, maybe you should pick up your shovel and tear up the roof.
This has been a check in my spirit. I want to be that roof-cutting kind of friend. How about you?