Complimentary Story
January 2023

   “And when they could not get near Him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above Him, and when they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay.  And when Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven.’” (Mark 2:4-5 ESV).

   I have always loved this passage in Mark. There is more to this passage than simply a man receiving a healing. Like the crowds who flocked wherever Jesus was ministering, it can be easy for us to focus solely on our physical needs, while neglecting to see that the true purpose of Christ's earthly ministry was to provide a way that we can be healed of the condition of sin which plagues all mankind.

   Mark 2:2 tells us, “And many were gathered together, so that there was no more room, not even at the door. And He was preaching the Word to them.” I am immediately drawn to the emphasis on the crowd of people that were there, and I wonder how many of us today are merely spectators of the Gospel. It’s abundantly clear that Jesus was preaching the Word to them. However, there was a great crowd of people there and I must honestly wonder how many were there for signs and wonders. How many of us seek God for what can be done for us? I do not want anyone reading this to spend this year as a spectator of what God is doing. I also do not want us to fail to see that the primary role of Jesus’ ministry was to preach the Word. That is, after all, what we are called to do. Church should never become a spectator sport.

   The story of the paralytic shows us that sometimes we need help from faithful friends to overcome the obstacles of life. The paralytic was carried by four friends to where Jesus was teaching. True faith always produces actions. The act of lowering the paralytic down did not produce the faith of the four friends. The faith of the four friends resulted, even demanded action in accordance with their faith. We cannot allow the crowds in this life, the circumstances we face or even our own limitations to keep us from Christ. Often, we will find that it is hard to press forward unimpeded by the world and the wares of this life. Sickness and personal limitations often leave us in a state that requires faithful friends to help us bear that burden. 

   Undoubtedly there will be times in our walk with Christ when our faith is weak, and we must rely on the faith of those who will help bear our burdens.

   Sometimes, as in the case of the paralytic, that is a physical burden, but often we need faithful brothers and sisters in Christ to help bear burdens of grief, of emotional distress, of brokenness and strife. Sometimes we must be the faithful friend who is willing to bear the burden for a brother or sister in Christ. Though we may not need to tear apart a roof to lower a friend to Christ, we frequently will need to go the opposite direction and lift a brother or sister in Christ up to the Lord through prayer. The prayer of a faithful believer has the power to move mountains, and to change lives by faith.

   We can approach the Lord only by faith. If the four friends of the paralytic had no faith, the crowds would have deterred them. Undeterred, they pressed on, and we must press forward by faith, ignoring the obstacles and distractions of this world.

   While we often must rely on the faith of others, that faith can only help us if our faith is aligned together in accordance with the Will of God. I used to think that verse five spoke only of the faith of the friends when it says, “And when Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven.’” (Mark 2:5 ESV).

   It could be easy to read that and think that Jesus was healing the paralytic because of the great power of the faith that his friends possessed. However, notice Jesus says specifically to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” We cannot approach God by the faith of our friends and loved ones alone. While the faith of others often helps us, it is worthless if we fail to have faith in Christ. I clearly see that by addressing the paralytic as “Son,” Jesus is acknowledging that the faith which He saw was not the four friends alone but included the faith of paralytic himself. Have you approached Christ by faith? 

   As we enter this new year, what can the power of faith do for you or a loved one?


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