A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. They gathered in such large numbers that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them. Some men came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, 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 by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”
Here at First United Methodist Church Mansfield, we are involved in ministries of compassion and justice. We are about making disciples of Jesus Christ who will love God, love others, and serve the world. Certainly, that was the desire of the 4 friends in today's passage from Mark.
This passage is unique in Jesus' healing ministry stories because the faith of the man on the mat is not named. In other places, Jesus declares, "Your faith has saved you." In this passage, it is the faith of the friends that is highlighted.
Crowds blocked the door and there was no way they could get him in. So they came up with an outside-of-the-box, in this case outside-of-the-house, way to get the man in to see Jesus. They carry him to the roof, start digging, and then lower him to where he can see and hear and receive everything he needed.
The passage says nothing about this being the idea of the paralyzed man. When they start carrying him to the roof, can't you just hear him say: "You’re taking me up on the roof? Isn't there another way? Why are you digging through the roof?”
As a result of his friends’ efforts, the man on the mat walked out of the house through the front door and to a whole new way of life. One moment. One simple act of kindness brought a man to Christ, changed his life, and made everybody who was there that day say: "We've never seen anything like this before!”
This passage from Mark is one I have preached on several times for Confirmation Services. I believe it enforces what our students already know about how important it is for us to bring our friends to places where they are talking about God and Jesus. It also stresses the creativity and determination of the friends to help their friend find healing and forgiveness.
Studies show that the average person can name between five and eight people who've significantly shaped their lives -- people who came into their lives at different times and made important contributions. Who are your faith friends? Who would consider you to be their faith friend?
Much of the time, we don't talk to our friends about our faith. We will share other information freely about our favorite television shows, places to eat, what happened to us at work, school, or on vacation, but we don’t bring up the faith word.
Maybe we could talk about it differently:
Sharing something you enjoy with someone you like.
Sharing something you need with someone else who needs it.
Share forgiveness with someone who needs to be forgiven.
External barriers can be daunting but a warm invitation and welcome can change everything. Bring a friend to church with you! Who knows? Healing and forgiveness might be waiting, for both of you!
Loving God, We offer our thanks for those who have invited us, befriended us, loved and forgiven us. Help us to do the same for others. Strengthen us as we work to be the church you call us to be. AMEN
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version ® NIV ®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2014 by Biblica, Inc.®. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.