by Andrew Palau
(Editor’s note: With this blog post we continue a new series, “The Stories within the Story.” Each article will include how to use specific passages and stories in scripture in gospel witness.”
“Some men came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”. . . But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the man, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!”(Mark 2:3-5, 10-12)
What does it take to be a part of Jesus’ miraculous work in this world? As we look at the miracles of Jesus in scripture, we may all say, “He’s done the exact same thing in my life.” Amen! Yet, to be a part of His miraculous work in this world is not just to receive it, but to be an active conduit through which the good news will go out. At just the right moment, it might even require tearing off the roof.
The Book of Mark is called the Gospel of action. From the first verse we get the sense that lights and camera are already rolling as the action kicks in with immediacy. Mark 2 opens with big news pulsating through the streets. Jesus was back in town. He was just down the street at the house of Peter’s relative.
In this town lived a paralyzed man who had four amazing friends. When they heard the big news, hopefulness sprang up in their hearts.
This man Jesus—He did miracles. He healed Simon Peter’s mother-in-law; He cast out demons; He healed the leper. They had to get their friend to Jesus. Whatever it took.
If Jesus left the city, they might never get their friend to him again.
Their faith sprang into action. The moment they heard of Jesus, they ran, carrying their paralyzed friend to the house where Jesus was staying. The crowd was impossible and they couldn’t get even get close. But someone had the bright idea to get up on the roof. I imagine the driving words, vaulting them past the spectators, jumping over the crowd: Our friend must get to Jesus.
People were certainly scolding them, “Get off the roof!” But they pulled at the mud and tile and sticks, or whatever it might take, because they were not deterred by one shred of doubt. They knew what Jesus would do. Their faith was childlike. Pure. Shameless. Their actions proved their unwavering faith.
I can hear them saying, “I don’t care how awkward it is. If we can just get him to Jesus, something will happen!”
Can you place yourself within that crowded seaside home in Capernaum? Can you feel the dust and dirt falling into your hair, the commotion overhead? Picture Jesus’ broadening smile and even His joy. Look up to see four astonished men peering down from the roof.
Then, hear Jesus’ generous response to this ridiculous show of faith as he stoops to the man lying helplessly on a mat: “Son, your sins are forgiven. . . I tell you: get up, take your mat and go home.”
At first, Jesus did the unthinkable: He forgave the man’s sin. Jesus removed the most crippling thing in this man’s life. He lifted the burden of guilt and shame and spiritual paralysis. He restored the man to a relationship with the living God.
Then, of course there was the obvious matter of physical healing. Jesus simply spoke and it was done. In full view of the scowling, gape-mouthed teachers on the front row, the man picked up his mat and walked. This was not in his own power, but by the very same power and authority that forgave his sin. He walked away healed by Jesus—whole from the inside out.
What a scene! God’s kingdom advanced. And all because four faith-filled friends were willing to do whatever it took to get their brother to Jesus.
The Kind of Faith God Loves to See
This particular miracle in Mark 2 has always moved me. But lately, it’s been teaching me some powerful truths about the kind of faith it takes to reach the lost and the kind of faith God loves to see.
The love and faith and expectancy of these men grips my heart. The compassion and response and power of Jesus at seeing their faith in ridiculous measure fills me with awe.
I want to be like that.
Being used by God. Never giving up on the lost. Doing whatever it takes. And receiving that incredible nod from Jesus in response to my faith on behalf of the lost.
Let me share three notes of encouragement for you as you consider this kind of faith as well:
1. So what if it’s awkward? Just get them to Jesus.
The moment Jesus came to town, I believe these guys gave up on giving up. No doctor could cure their friend, but the arrival of Jesus changed everything. Now only one thing mattered, and it wasn’t the obstacles or the critics—it was getting their friend healed by Jesus.
As you and I are obedient to share the good news and advance the kingdom, we will also face opposition and have some awkward moments. We aren’t called to avoid opposition. We are called to take the kingdom wherever He has called us to take the kingdom.
Carry the mat and never give up! Be faithful. Be ridiculous. When the Lord says to do it, just do it.
2. God needs your faith and feet to carry the mat and tear off the roof.
God partners with us to take part in his miraculous work. Only Jesus Christ has the authority to forgive sins and to heal, but the vehicle He has chosen to carry His message of forgiveness and healing is us. We are the ones God has chosen in this day and age to believe and bring the gospel to our communities.
When we are so full of faith that we just don’t care about the right or wrong way to do it, we can be willing to do whatever it takes, to move past convenience and conventional means, to deliver the lost where they can meet Jesus.
3. God responds to ridiculous faith for the lost.
God responds to this kind of faith: not only the faith of the paralytic man, but the unrivaled faith of his friends. When we bring a broken and lifeless soul to Jesus, we need faith to get him or her there, and we need faith on his or her behalf until Jesus speaks to him or her directly.
“When Jesus saw their faith.” God is commending this kind of action to us. He’s helping us see that there will be seasons in which he wants us to go to extremes to rescue someone. He wants us to intentionally take risks and get people to the feet of Jesus. This is our calling, our purpose, and our joy.
I pray that you and I will be revived in our faith and revived in our prayer life to reach the lost with an audacious faith. Let’s be full of faith and put it to ridiculous action, even if it means tearing off the roof to bring others to the feet of Jesus.
Andrew Palau (@andrew_palau) is an evangelist with the Luis Palau Association. He has shared the gospel with millions of people, and at every opportunity he demonstrates his father’s same passion and love for Christ and for evangelism.