Hunkered Down Devotion

Luke 5:17-26 (Voice)
17 One day Jesus was teaching in a house, and the healing power of the Lord was with Him. Pharisees and religious scholars were sitting and listening, having come from villages all across the regions of Galilee and Judea and from the holy city of Jerusalem.
18 Some men came to the house, carrying a paralyzed man on his bed pallet. They wanted to bring him in and present him to Jesus, 19 but the house was so packed with people that they couldn’t get in. So they climbed up on the roof and pulled off some roof tiles. Then they lowered the man by ropes so he came to rest right in front of Jesus.
20 In this way, their faith was visible to Jesus.
Jesus (to the man on the pallet): My friend, all your sins are forgiven.
21 The Pharisees and religious scholars were offended at this. They turned to one another and asked questions.
Pharisees and Religious Scholars: Who does He think He is? Wasn’t that blasphemous? Who can pronounce that a person’s sins are forgiven? Who but God alone?
Jesus (responding with His own question): 22 Why are your hearts full of questions? 23 Which is easier to say, “Your sins are forgiven” or “Get up and walk”? 24 Just so you’ll know that the Son of Man is fully authorized to forgive sins on earth (He turned to the paralyzed fellow lying on the pallet), I say, get up, take your mat, and go home.
25 Then, right in front of their eyes, the man stood up, picked up his bed, and left to go home - full of praises for God! 26 Everyone was stunned. They couldn’t help but feel awestruck, and they praised God too.
People: We’ve seen extraordinary things today.

Like so many stories involving Jesus, there is a lot going on in this story.  All of it is worthy of close consideration, but today I want to think about the paralyzed man and his wonderful friends.  That is always the part of this story that has stuck out to me.  

I remember, from a very young age, just thinking how crazy this story was.  What did his friends do?  They brought him to the roof.  Then what did they do?  They dug a hole in the roof.  What?

This makes no sense to me.  I think the first question that I remember having was: what happened to the roof after this?  I mean, Jesus is teaching in someone else’s house and I can’t imagine the poor owner of the house thought his invitation to Jesus involved the destruction of his house.  

And so that is the first thing that we should recognize about this story and the friends of the paralyzed man – they were willing to go to extreme, radical lengths to get their friend to Jesus and to help him find grace and healing.  

They were willing to risk danger and financial liability for themselves to get their friend to Jesus.  Additionally, at no point in the story are we given the indication that the paralyzed man actually wants to be taken to Jesus.  Of course he would have wanted healed, but as a grown man who had suffered for his entire life, he likely held out little if any hope of being made whole.

The only explanation for their willingness, which seems to veer solidly into recklessness, is that they are utterly convinced that their friend needs what Jesus has, that Jesus has the ability – and the inclination? – to help and save him.  

Before we go any further, it’s important to note that this is a great story, and there is much we can learn from it, including the enthusiasm the friends had for helping their friend and sharing Jesus with him, but their methods are not instructive for us.   Following God’s call to share his love and bring others to Jesus will not involve destruction of property or bringing people against their will to church (can you imagine?).  

So, while we don’t want to replicate their methods, what we can emulate is their zeal to share Jesus and the commitment to bring their friends to him.  Most of us, if we are honest, often find it hard to invite someone to church or share openly about our faith.  But Christ calls us to be bold in serving and sharing him, actively working to remove whatever barriers exist between those we know and love and Jesus Christ.  
Sharing God’s Love, 

Prayer:  Lord, give us the courage to share you boldly and to work to bring others to you.   Amen.

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