I hope you all have been doing well. Laurel and I have secluded ourselves in obedience to our government and concern for the virus. The first couple days were not too bad. Of course, Laurel is still working at Imboden (apparently “essential” has an arbitrary definition). I have learned my productivity is best in the church office, where I am not. So, I march through the resistance of distraction in my home. I have been filling all the extra time inside with video games, bible study, fixing up my new house, and learning Japanese (there are so few efforts to spread the Gospel in Japanese). I hope you are able to fill the time yourself.
I had a lesson planned on Luke 5:17-26, a classic text. I will give you a snippet of that lesson for your reading and encourage you to continue studying this text on your own for your own spiritual nourishment.
[Luk 5:17-26 ESV] On one of those days, as he was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there, who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was with him to heal. And behold, some men were bringing on a bed a man who was paralyzed, and they were seeking to bring him in and lay him before Jesus, but finding no way to bring him in, because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down with his bed through the tiles into the midst before Jesus. And when he saw their faith, he said, “Man, your sins are forgiven you.” And the scribes and the Pharisees began to question, saying, “Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” When Jesus perceived their thoughts, he answered them, “Why do you question in your hearts? Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”–he said to the man who was paralyzed–“I say to you, rise, pick up your bed and go home.” And immediately he rose up before them and picked up what he had been lying on and went home, glorifying God. And amazement seized them all, and they glorified God and were filled with awe, saying, “We have seen extraordinary things today.”
Instead of giving you my entire lesson, here is the major point I would have focused on, Friends.
This is such a classic text where Jesus proves his ability to forgive by his ability to heal. I have heard this story time after time. I remember seeing this scene reenacted at Vacation Bible Schools: a paralyzed man being put down through the roof to be healed by Jesus.
But this time that I was reading it, I was trying to envision this in my head. Imagining this being played out, even imagining how it got to this point, I became so impressed by the friendship in this story.
“And behold, some men were bringing on a bed a man who was paralyzed, and they were seeking to bring him in and lay him before Jesus, but finding no way to bring him in, because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down with his bed through the tiles into the midst before Jesus. And when he saw their faith, he said, ‘Man, your sins are forgiven you.’”
The text does not clarify if these men knew the paralyzed man, but I would guess they do. (Even if these men didn’t know him, that is even more incredible–to help a stranger!) The friendship here is such a powerful story.
This man was paralyzed–how and for how long, we do not know, but he suffered in life. His friends here knew the invalid’s suffering, they cared about it, heard that a prophet may be able to heal him, they carried him (I wonder how far), and when they were prevented from coming to Jesus, they did not stop. See the perseverance in their efforts. See the care for their friend. See their faith in Jesus’ ability to heal.
They let him down through the roof (which would be an easy thing to do compared to today) wanting to have their friend healed. They loved this man! Boy, did they love this man!
I read this text and I think of my dear friend Bryant. When I was going to school in Texas, he was my classmate. He and I became attached at the hip quickly. We were best friends and everyone knew it. People assumed we had come from the same town or knew each other previously. But my friend has cerebral palsy. He is in an electric wheelchair and is unable to do many things. I helped him in our time at school, so much so that I became a CNA to get paid to do it (his idea). I love him dearly. If I learned of a way that he could be healed, I would carry him miles and miles. The love between friends is a love that will withstand the test.
[Ecc 4:12 ESV] And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him–a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
Jesus noticed that friendship; the text says, “when he saw their faith…” Not his faith, their faith. The faith of all of them as a group working together. The paralyzed man being let down through the roof and the friends who were letting him down. Their collective faith was honored by Christ. Isn’t that how it should be?
I hope to be that friend who notices my friend suffering (spiritually) and brings him to Christ. Those of us who are able, bring those who are unable to Jesus. The love we have for them, the friendship that binds us together, it compels us to bring our friends to Jesus. Even if things are in the way, if people are surrounded by Jesus it doesn’t matter! We’ll come through the roof. We’ll do anything to bring our friend to Jesus to end his suffering! Jesus ended my suffering, he can end my friend’s too!
In a time like now, we need to remember our friends. Connect with the ones you love. Thank God (literally and whole-heartedly) for phones and the internet. Call someone to check on them. Connect with each other. Don’t let covid-19 get in the way of our love for one another. Let our love for each other be greater than the obstacles in the way.
I love you all dearly. Be safe. Spend some time in study and prayer 🙂