The Impact of Godly Friends
“Seeing their faith, He said, Friend, your sins are forgiven.”
They arrived that day with the hope of helping a friend, but in the end, they attained much more. The story begins with a classic picture of Christ sitting with the religious leaders having debates regarding the law as the crowds pressed in around him. But then the events take an unexpected turn. As Jesus was interacting with the religious leaders a noise began to emanate from the rooftop and all eyes look upward. On this day, one man’s life was going to be radically changed.
While the back story of the man and his friends is not given, there are hints in the passage that reveal that there was much more at stake than just a man who had been paralyzed. In an unusual exchange, Jesus does not declare the individual to be healed, instead, he proclaims that his sins are forgiven, suggesting that the individual’s paralysis was no accident, but a direct result of his sin. No one feels the guilt and weight of sin more than an individual who suffers long-term consequences because of it. When our sin devastates our life, we are reminded daily of our failure and the constant guilt it brings. Consequently, for this man, his needs went far beyond just his physical healing, he needed spiritual healing as well. His only hope for both his physical and spiritual healing lays with Jesus. But how could he get to Jesus when he could not move himself?
This is what brings the friends into the story. If he is going to receive complete healing, he is dependent upon others. His friends, hearing that Jesus had the power to perform healings and discovering that he was in their community, decide to take action. Lifting the bed upon which the man lay, they carried him to the place where Jesus was, hoping to gain an audience. But when they arrived at the house, their hopes were dashed as the crowds were pressing in around the place, blocking their access. But desperate hope leads to drastic action. Convinced that Jesus was their only hope, they hatched an improbable plan: They would go up on the roof and remove the tiles and lower the man down to Jesus! As the crowd sees the bed being lower, Christ sees something different, he sees the desperate need of the man and the faith of the friends who were convinced that Christ could not only bring physical healing, but spiritual relief from his guilt. What is remarkable is the statement in verse 20, “Seeing their faith…”. The focus is not what we would expect. Instead of the focus being upon the faith of the paralytic, the focus is upon the faith of the friends. Because of their faith (both the friends and the paralytic), Christ not only healed the man of his physical illness, he offered the man forgiveness as well.
This remarkable story serves to remind us of the nature of fellowship and community. When we serve one another in faith in God and love for others, our actions have a profound impact. Fellowship and community are more than just going to church and having our needs met, it is about participating in the lives of others and influencing their eternal destiny through our acts of faith. Time in serving others is never wasted, rather it has eternal consequences. Today, find others who need a “stretcher bearing” and then grab hold and trust that God will use you to change the course of their life. Who do you know today that needs this kind of friend?