“And seeing their faith…. He said to the paralytic…’Rise, and take up your stretcher and go home’” (Luke 5:20,24). You remember the story. Four friends. A paralytic. One Healer. And a crowd of people in-between (Mark 2:3-4). Although the guy on the pallet needed the healing, our story tells us more about the four friends than the paralytic himself.
The Feat (Luke 5:18)
Something about this story makes me surmise that it wasn’t the paralytic’s idea to see Jesus. Whether or not he wanted to make the trip, his friends took him to Jesus. They didn’t even move the paralyzed guy from the pallet on which he was laid. They simply picked up his mat, squeezed him through his door and lumbered out onto the streets, with him in tow.
Can you imagine the times they had to readjust their hold on the corners of that mat? What a spectacle they must have been puffing down the uneven dirt roads of first century Capernaum. Yet, they mapped out a strategy and made it happen.
The Fortitude (Luke 5:19; Mark 2:2)
As with most plans, there was a hitch. They could probably hear the crowd even before they saw them. Yes, they’d made it to Jesus, but a little too late. There were already far too many others packed tightly around Him.
I can see them putting the paralytic to the ground and readjusting their scheme. Each probably had a different idea, as the opinions flew. Wonder if the paralytic wasn’t just ready to get off the dusty road? After all, he probably wasn’t accustomed to being out in broad daylight for such lengths of time.
Yes, as they brainstormed, someone came up with an idea. “Let’s haul him up the ladder and onto the roof. From there, we’ll dig a way in.” Just think about the persistence. Did they run back home for tools? What did the owner of the house have to say about this? How did they lift a pallet-full of paralytic without dropping him to his death? What must the disabled man said?
These guys were obstinate, tenacious and unshakable.
The Faith (Luke 5:20; Mark 2:5)
The whole ordeal boiled down to this one thing: they believed Jesus was their only Hope. They were convinced that He alone could help their friend. Why else would they have spent their whole day orchestrating such a laborious event? Their bull-dogged resolve found them dragging, hoisting, scratching and sweating their friend to Jesus.
And the amazing thing is that it worked. “And seeing their faith,” the paralytic was healed. “Their faith.” Notice it wasn’t the great conviction of the paralytic himself. But the faith of his friends.
Who do you know that is in real need of Jesus?
Do you “wrestle” in prayer for them (Colossians 4:12) or are your prayers languid and lazy?
Jesus is able to do “exceedingly, abundantly beyond all that you can ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20). He doesn’t need to be begged or convinced of the need. He just needs to be faithed for the answer. Will you tenaciously bring someone to Him? (And don’t forget, you may need a few friends to help you with the corners of that mat).
His ears tensed as he picked up a slight sound — the baby crying, perhaps? But as he strained to hear, he realized that it was just a dog barking in the distance. The house was truly quiet at last. What a day for his wife to leave him in charge.
Nothing had gone right. While he cleaned up one mess, another was in the making. A diaper to change, a mouth to feed, a boo-boo to kiss. All in a day’s work, but it had taken it’s toll on his nerves. Bedtime had been beckoning for several hours, it seemed. He sighed and breathed deeply as he adjusted his pillow just right. Sleep would be his welcomed friend.
The cell phone signaled on the bedside table and he glanced at the incoming text. “Need medical advice,” the next door neighbor wrote. “It’s the four-year-old.”
It could wait till the morning, he thought. Just because I’m a doctor doesn’t mean I’m always on call.
He rolled over decisively to prove it so.
The device buzzed as the neighbor added, “He seems pretty bad.”
He debated turning off his phone, but hesitated. What if his wife called? Maybe he would just cover the phone with an extra pillow.
As he deliberated, the cell startled him with it’s ring.
He fumed as he recognized the number. It was that neighbor next door again, and he swiftly silenced the ring before the children heard it.
With the exception of his own pounding heart, everything in the house remained at peace. No bedroom doors opened. The children must have slept through the interruption.
Within seconds, the home phone began to ring. He grabbed the receiver off the hook and answered in a gruff whisper, “What?!”
It was that neighbor again — apologetically, but urgently laying out her plea for the four-year-old. “His fever is up to 104,” she begged. “I’m not sure what to do.”
He heard these requests everyday at his office and sure didn’t need them again now tonight. Just then, his own ten-month-old rustled. “My kids are in bed, for Pete’s sake! Give him some Tylenol and I’ll see him in the morning,” he barked as quietly as possible. He briskly disconnected the phone and left it purposely off the receiver. He couldn’t risk an awakened household.
As he shuffled to the kitchen for a drink, he heard a soft rap at the door. This couldn’t be happening. Again, the rap sounded. This time a little louder. Racing back to his bedroom for his robe, he stuffed his arms into it, but not before the doorbell rang — twice. He swiftly moved toward the front door as he heard his five-year-old turn off the sound machine and come out of her room. Unfortunately, her three-year-old sister pattered after her.
Infuriated by this time, the doctor swung the door open to the find the desperate neighbor.
“You really must come,” she implored. “I’m awfully afraid for my little boy’s life!”
In the background, the three-month-old cried.
“With all the kids awake now,” the doctor sighed heavily, “What does it matter? Let me get my coat. You stay with my kids.”
“Suppose one of you shall have a friend, and shall go to him at midnight, and say to him, ‘Friend, (my child is sick and I have nothing to give him)’; and from inside he shall answer and say, ‘Do not bother me, the door has already been shut and my children and I are in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.’
“I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will get up and give him as much as he needs.” (Luke 11:5-8)
Now, just think….if the desperate neighbor in our story had asked other family and friends to call, knock, and pester the doctor, how much quicker she would have procured her need!
Our heavenly Father is far more considerate, far more willing, and far more compassionate than the doctor in today’s story. Our Great Physician is waiting not only for us to ask, seek and knock. He welcomes us to call on our friends to do so on our behalf as well.
“How much more shall your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!” (Matthew 7:11)
Let go to Him together for our needs, shall we?