Today’s reading is Mark 2
The first story in Mark 2 has become one of my favorites in last 10-20 years. The miracle that Jesus performs in this passage is astounding! Jesus completely reverses terrible physical circumstances in a man’s life. While I am awed by Jesus’ handiwork, the part of this story that challenges me and encourages me isn’t as much about the miracle as it is the faith and tenacity of this man’s friends. Jesus was preaching to a group of people in someone’s house. The house became packed full with people wanting to hear what He had to say. The crowd was spilling outside the door into the yard. While Jesus was preaching four men showed up carrying one of their friends who was paralyzed. When the friends realized they couldn’t get the man to Jesus because of the crowd, they literally pulled some tiles off of the roof so they could make a hole in the ceiling of the house and lowered the man on his mat right down in front of Jesus. Seeing their faith, Jesus forgave the man’s sins and after a discussion with the teachers of religious law, He told the paralyzed man, “ Stand up, pick up your mat and go home”. The man jumped up, grabbed his mat, and walked through the stunned onlookers. Jesus changed the rest of this guy’s life by healing him.
This paralyzed man’s friends were willing to carry him to the place that Jesus was speaking. The passage doesn’t tell us the distance that they had to travel to get to the house but let’s be honest here, carrying the weight of a man on rug seems precarious at best and the thought of offering that for even a city block makes my back hurt. Next, when they realize that they couldn’t walk him right up to Jesus because of the crowd, they devise a plan to get their friend the help that they believe he needs most. They are willing to climb up on the roof, damage some guy’s house, hook up ropes to the rug and lower their friend down to Jesus. Don’t you wish you could have been privy to the conversation that hatched that plan? These friends cared about this guy enough to inconvenience themselves, make some physical sacrifices, risk financial cost in damaging the homeowners roof, and give of their time to make this miracle possible for their friend. Makes me wonder what we are willing to do to get those we care about to Jesus.
Several years ago I did a Beth Moore study on the book of Luke. This same story is told in Luke 5, and Beth’s comments on this scenario are what developed my love for this story. I’ve already covered the literal implications for us to consider as we look at what this man’s friends were willing to do to help him get to Jesus, but in the Luke Study, Beth talked about how this story translates for us since we don’t physically have Jesus present. She stated that sometimes the way we can best help those we care about is to “put them on mat” of prayer and “carry them to Jesus”. The concept that stuck with me most from this study is that we can “carry others to Jesus” without their consent or agreement. We have the freedom to set anyone we choose on that mat and carry them in prayer to the One who we know can help them the most. This is powerful! As a young mom I clung to the idea of putting my kids on the mat and sometimes “dragging” them to Jesus when I didn’t know what else to do to help them change their hearts. Since I was gifted this concept or word picture, I have told God in prayer, more times that I can count that I am “putting ______ on the mat, and bringing them to You”. Can your mind be relieved of worry for someone you are concerned about? Are you at a loss for tangible ways to help someone you care about? Are you beyond your abilities in helping or too far away to help a loved one? We have the option to put anyone we want to on that mat and carry them to Jesus.