THE FAITH OF FRIENDS
Loving Father, thank you for the friends you have put in my life who bring me to you. Bless them afresh today.
Read LUKE 5:17-26
Jesus Forgives and Heals a Paralyzed Man
17 One day Jesus was teaching, and Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there. They had come from every village of Galilee and from Judea and Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was with Jesus to heal the sick. 18 Some men came carrying a paralyzed man on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus. 19 When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus.
20 When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.”
21 The Pharisees and the teachers of the law began thinking to themselves, “Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?”
22 Jesus knew what they were thinking and asked, “Why are you thinking these things in your hearts? 23 Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? 24 But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the paralyzed man, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” 25 Immediately he stood up in front of them, took what he had been lying on and went home praising God. 26 Everyone was amazed and gave praise to God. They were filled with awe and said, “We have seen remarkable things today.”
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
May the Lord free us from the traps of independence and codependence and teach us the beauty of dependence on him and healthy interdependence with others.
In contrast to the man with leprosy in the previous story, who is socially isolated, the paralyzed man in this episode has many supportive friends determined to bring him before Jesus. The crowd is so thick that they must take their friend up to the roof and lower him down in front of Jesus. Houses often had flat roofs made of mud mixed with straw, so they would have been able to take apart a section large enough to do this. It is not the paralyzed man’s faith that impresses Jesus but the faith of his friends.
Jesus first tells him his sins are forgiven – and to underscore his authority to do this, he also heals him physically. This is a clear reference to Jesus’ divinity, emphasized by the accusation of blasphemy (v 21). The onlookers are first angry at Jesus’ presumption about forgiving sins and then amazed at the remarkable healing. Jesus knows what this man truly needs and he focuses on his multifaceted needs, indifferent to the opinions of his observers.
Our faith affects others, for better or worse. Perhaps this paralyzed man has lost hope and needs his friends to believe and bring him before Jesus. This might explain why his first need is forgiveness, rather than physical healing. The story illustrates the power of spiritual community. All of us reach points where we struggle to continue to believe and cannot bring ourselves before God’s loving presence. At these times we need faithful friends around us, who can believe and exercise their faith to bring us near to Jesus again. He stands ready to forgive and to heal, but it is encouraging to be surrounded by people who can help position us to receive all that we need.
Isolation and individualism block us from the protection and help of spiritual friendships. To whom in your life can you look for help? To whom can you offer it?
Thank you, Jesus, that because of you, I have a remarkable story to tell, a story of truth, grace and mercy, and promised redemption. Help me to be a faithful storyteller.
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