Summary: Asks listeners to identify with four characters who will challenge the current state of their faith.
The Forgiveness Wager
This is a great story for challenging your faith by identifying with some of the characters.
Am I most like the optimistic friend, willing to go to great lengths and inconvenience to help a friend get in front of Jesus because I’m confident it’ll make a difference?
Am I most like the person who needs to stop objecting, forget about my embarrassment and welcome the help others can offer?
Am I like the critic who needs to let God to work outside the limits of my own understanding?
Am I like the spectator, unsure of what to do with this Jesus, who needs to admit He makes more sense than any other option?
1. The faith-filled friends teach us to bring a friend to Jesus knowing it will make a difference.
These men had a friend in need and they cared. You have friends with needs; material, physical, spiritual, emotional. Do you want to do something to help them?
These friends had faith. We might call it exceptional faith. Jesus was pretty impressed. It says He saw their faith – it was visible in what they did. Does your faith lead to action?
These friends had determination. Luke’s story doesn’t tell us how many there were, but Mark mentions there were four of them. Even so, the going may have been tough. You can imagine one saying, “I’m tired. It’s time for someone younger to carry this stretcher.” One could have complained, “This is taking too long. I have other plans and responsibilities.” When they arrived at the house where Jesus was teaching one may have said, “Look. There’s no way we’re getting in there. Let’s go home. I’m sure someone else will carry you home. Remember, God loves you and so do I.”
I wonder how often we quit too soon, when the goal could have been achieved with just a little more determination and perseverance.
These friends were creative risk-takers. They knew the time had come to get unconventional and think “out-of-the-box”. It was time to make some noise, to make some dust, to alter a roof-line.
Now I’m not suggesting that in your service you be too quick to break a law or vandalize someone’s property. But are you willing to take chances, to risk humiliation in order to get someone in front of Jesus?
These friends also had a lot of joy. When you get to the end of the story, can’t you see them on the roof, watching their formerly paralyzed friend walk out of the house, laughing, giving high-fives and saying, “mission accomplished.”
I think Jesus probably looked up at them, smiled and said, “Now that’s what I’m talkin’ about. You guys are awesome! Well done!” Then He may have added, “After this service I want you to fix the roof.”
Have you known the joy of helping another person experience Jesus’ touch? If so you may be like the faith-filled friend. You know that it’s worth helping someone to Jesus because He will make an amazing difference in their life.
2. The patient teaches us to welcome the help we need.
How do you think he responded to their efforts?
Was he the kind of person who said, “It won’t work. Forget it. Put me down.” When they started up the exterior steps to the flat roof of the house he would have been hanging on for dear life saying, “Are you crazy? Be careful!” And as they lowered him from the roof, “I am soooo humiliated!”
Or, he could have been the kind of guy who cooked up the idea. “Hey, guys I’ve heard what Jesus can do. I don’t care how you do it, just get me to Jesus.” When they got there he might have egged them on, “So you can’t get in. What do you mean you’re giving up? No way! Think! There has to be a way. I’ve got it. Take me to the roof!”
When Luke said Jesus saw “their faith” he may have meant the faith of all five men, not just the four friends.
After all their efforts, what do you think the paralytic thought when Jesus said, “your sins are forgiven”?
He may have thought, “That’s pretty irrelevant! That’s not why I’m hear!”
But Jesus knew our real problem is sin. The first thing we need is spiritual healing – salvation.
That’s why you and I should pray at least as much, even more, for other people’s salvation as we do for their sickness. Do I seek spiritual health as fervently as I seek physical health, financial well-being, emotional happiness?
Is there some spiritual paralysis in my life that Jesus wants to heal first? A paralysis of sin that needs to be forgiven.
Learn from the patient here and welcome the help you need.