In the story found in Mark 2:1-12 we are given a snapshot of the type of faith that is required of us. Most of us have heard this story of the four men lowering their paralyzed friend down through a roof to the feet of Jesus. It is easy to glaze over this story and continue reading without stopping to put yourself in their sandals, carrying their friend on a bed.
The first item I think of is having the option to push through the crowd to Jesus or walking up the stairway along the side of the house to the roof. That crowd must have thick as mud, everyone must have forgotten to wear deodorant that day if the four men found the way up the stairs easier.
The second obstacle is the roof. Roofs in first century Israel were flat so that the owners could relax on the roof during the day and evening if they wanted. They were built by laying hardened clay slabs on wooden beams that ran across the expanse of the house. Then once the slabs were in place the builder would pour and smooth wet clay onto of the slabs to act as a sealer against the weather (rain, snow, wind, etc).
So put yourself in the shoes of these four men. They had to carry a man, say he weighed anywhere from 140-175 pounds, to the house that Jesus was in. The text in Mark doesn’t say how far they carried him, but any distance would have seemed far while carrying someone. Then they come to the house and it is absolutely packed. Literally impossible to push through the people who are already pushing in on Jesus just to make room in the back for more people.
One of the four men points to the stairway running up the side of the house. They all look up then back at each other and nod. They know that Jesus can heal their friend; all they have to do is get him at the feet of Jesus. They carefully and slowly climb the stairs with their friend on the bed. Once at the roof they set the bed down and set to work. Digging through the clay seal coat and then breaking through the hardened clay slabs. Finally they make an opening large enough to fit the bed through.
The text doesn’t say if they used ropes to lower the bed or if two of them jumped through the opening and the two on the roof handed the bed down. Either option is difficult to achieve safely. But, one way or another they get their friend in front of Jesus, who stops teaching and gives his full attention to the man on the bed.
“And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”
We rejoice at hearing that a soul was saved, but the four men who carried their friend here were probably surprised. “Sins are saved?” They took him their to have him healed of his paralysis, imagine what was going through their minds when there is a spiritual healing instead of a physical.
Thankfully a few scribes who were there questioned how someone other than God could claim to forgive someone of their sins. Jesus meets the challenge head on and to prove that he IS GOD, heals the man of his paralysis on the spot. Something only God could do.
“But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the paralytic— “I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.” And he rose and immediately picked up his bed and went out before them all…”
Their faith paid off. They did not turn around when they noticed how large the crowd was. They did not turn around when faced with climbing the stairs with a bed. They did not turn around they had to dig through clay and break through a roof. They knew with all of their heart that Jesus could do a physical healing of their friend and they practiced persistent faith that is what ultimately led to a SPIRITUAL and PHYSICAL healing of their friend.
When faced with obstacles in your life, do you shy away or meet them head on with persistent faith in God to be with you every step of the way? Or are to too worried about what you will look like digging through the clay of a roof?
My prayer for you and me is that our faith is like the four men. A faith that is not stopped by any obstacle in our path. A faith that leans fully on Christ and digs through the clay.