I’ve been reflecting a great deal over the last few weeks of the account of the healing of the paralysed man in Mark 2. The story about the healing and about how this man’s life was changed forever, but it’s about so much more than that. It’s about Jesus and His power, but it’s also about the friends of the paralysed man who brought him to Jesus. I think they are unsung heroes of faith because they displayed incredible compassion and amazing determination.
The truth is that our faith journey requires determination and a “whatever it takes” kind of attitude and these friends of the paralysed man display just that. These guys had a mission… to get their friend well and healed, and they were going to see it through no matter what. I believe that we can learn a great deal from them about what the mission requires and what it means to have determination in our faith.
The mission requires faith
We don’t know anything about the paralysed man or his friends’ background. All we know is that they had decided to bring him to Jesus to be healed. They must’ve seen a miracle Jesus had done or heard Him preaching… or maybe they had only heard about Him. Either way, they had FAITH that Jesus could and would heal their friend. They made the decision to take him to Jesus, even though it was difficult and even though they encountered obstacles along the way because they believed that He could make a difference in their situation. Do you bring your situations to Jesus? Determination starts with faith and a deep-seated belief that when we draw near to God and seek Him, amazing things can and will happen.
The mission requires persistence
The four friends had decided to get their friend to Jesus and so they carried him, who knows how far, to get to where Jesus was teaching and when they got there they encountered what some might have seen as an insurmountable obstacle…. Jesus was out of reach. There were too many people and there was no chance of them getting close enough to Jesus to get Him to notice or heal their friend. Many people would’ve given up at this point and just turned around and gone home, or maybe waited in the crowd in the hopes of catching Jesus’ attention as He came by. But not these friends. These guys were not going to let anything stop them from completing their mission. They climbed up on the roof of the house and started to take it apart so that they could lower their friend down to Jesus. They remind us that persistence is a necessary part of being on mission with God. It is one thing to have faith, but our faith cannot simply be a once-off decision or short-lived commitment. It must go hand in hand with perseverance.
The mission requires community
The paralysed man would never have been able to get to Jesus and receive healing on his own. He needed those four friends to carry him there, to persevere and make a plan when things didn’t go the way they thought it would and to get him to the feet of Jesus.
In the same way, each of us needs a community of people around us who help us get to Jesus.Sometimes we are like the man on the mat and we need to be carried into the presence of Christ when we are too weak or broken to get there on our own.And sometimes, we are like the friends who have to do whatever it takes to help others get into God’s presence when they are to weak and broken to get there on their own.
Those who lead also need to carefully consider the way these friends went about their task. It would’ve been impossible if each one didn’t stick to their corner of the mat they were carrying. So often we try to push ahead and carry things on our own, but the reality is that we need each other and we need each person to simply carry their corner of the load so that we can see Jesus’ miracles revealed.
May we have the faith, the persistence and the people around us to help us do whatever it takes to keep pursuing Jesus with all our hearts.