This story in Luke 5 is a well-known one. The house was overflowing as the crowd tried to hear Jesus. These four men were carrying their friend on a mat. He was paralyzed. They desperately wanted to get him to Jesus. There seemed to be no way, but these friends would not be stopped. They climbed on the roof, tore back the tiles, and lowered their friend to Jesus.
As I read the story, I notice Jesus speaks some big truths. Things everyone in the room needed to hear. Things we still need to hear today. These stand out to me and I want to dig in a little deeper on each one.
- Jesus speaks to the faith of the friends
- Jesus speaks to the paralyzed man’s deepest need
- Jesus turns to the Pharisees to declare and demonstrate who He is
Jesus speaks to the faith of the friends
Luke 5:20 says “When Jesus saw their faith…” Have you ever tried to see faith? You can’t see faith. You can only see faith when it plays out in actions. Jesus saw how their faith compelled them to take action. Like everyone, they had heard the story of the leper made clean. The demon possessed man set free. They believed if they could just get their friend to Jesus something would be changed. No obstacles could stop them.
I like to call these friends a community of healers. Even if they didn’t know exactly what their friend needed, they knew to take him to Jesus. That’s the kind of community we all need.
This picture was just six months after my world fell apart. The growing idealism of my young 22 years had died. I experienced the deepest hurt, worst betrayal. My faith was shattered. I actually felt betrayed by God. It was a community of healers in both my family and friends that showed me a Jesus I hadn’t yet seen. One who grieves with me, who loves deeply, who redeems what is lost and restores what is broken. I wouldn’t be a follower of Jesus today if it weren’t for those who broke through my pain and skepticism to take me to Jesus.
Fast forward 10 years and in this picture Kevin had been fighting cancer for about 18 months. The picture is actually my 32nd birthday! Just six weeks after this picture was taken, at the young age of 32, I became a widow and single mom. My spiritual strength had only grown through the decade, but the emotional loss and overwhelming practical day to day life was my deepest need. Single moms are rock stars, you know. It is NOT an easy challenge and the responsibilities on your own can be overwhelming. But I wasn’t totally on my own. Groups of people signed up to bring me meals, help with my house, provide childcare. I had friends take me out for coffee and just let me talk and talk and talk. My community of healers looked like Jesus to me.
Another 10 years later, I was on the verge of becoming an empty-nester and found out I was pregnant with a little girl. Eleven years earlier I had prayed for a little girl. It was my heart’s desire. However, I was just a little shocked that God had waited so long to answer my prayer. I was unprepared. After working full time my whole life, I decided to become a stay at home mom. At 42 my identity should be rock solid, right? Until you have this little 4 pound 5 ounce preemie and endless nights of sleep deprivation. Then, your perspective on your identity is truly confronted! I had to build up a whole new community of healers just for this season of my life. People who helped me figure out all things parenting again. People who challenged my thinking about who I was as a stay-at-home-mom.
Our community of healers changes as our seasons of life shift. I have life-long friends who have journeyed through all of this and I have new friends for my now journey. Investing in friendships like this has a huge return on investment. They take us to the greatest treasure of all – Jesus. And Jesus has the best message of all!!
Jesus speaks to the paralyzed man
In the second part of Luke 5:20, Jesus spoke to the paralyzed man and said “Friend, your sins are forgiven.” Jesus saw this man’s deepest need. It wasn’t just the healing of his body. The social stigma of sickness in that day was that it was a punishment from God because of sin. This guy probably believed God had made him sick. His image of himself was a sinner, separated from God. Jesus (like so many times in scripture) began to tear down this social stigma. He touched the leper, calls the bleeding woman clean and so many more.
This paralyzed man had a bigger need, and Jesus saw it. He called him FRIEND – no longer separated but connected to God himself because of Jesus. Jesus forgave his sins. Not because this man was more of a sinner than anyone else in the room, but because Jesus wanted everyone to know that there is no chance that his sin could keep him from God anymore. That’s the healing he really needed. Jesus spoke to his soul paralysis – JESUS saw his spiritual condition. As a community of healers we take our friends to Jesus!
- We don’t always know their deepest need. Jesus does.
- We don’t have answers to their deepest questions. Jesus does.
- We don’t always know how to be a good friend. Jesus does.
Jesus declares and demonstrates who He is
The story doesn’t end there – Jesus has one more message he wants to share. The Pharisees were thinking Jesus was speaking blasphemy. Who could forgive, but God alone (verse 21). Jesus knows their thinking and calls them out. It’s way easier to simply declare sins forgiven. On the outside no one would know if you have the authority to do such a thing or not. It’s harder to say get up and walk and have someone walk if you don’t have the authority to do it. So, Jesus not only declares he can heal soul pain – he turns around and demonstrates it by telling the man to get up and walk, which he immediately does.
It’s easy to let the world define our identity as a sick person or a broken person, distant from God. But, in this story Jesus not only declares a new message – he demonstrates it. This is also our challenge as a community of healers. We get to reflect Jesus in our relationships with each other.
If someone needs physical healing, we take them to Jesus and pray over their deepest need. If someone is circling a lie they can’t beat, we take them to Jesus and speak truth that will not let them stay in that brain space. If someone has a broken heart, we take them to Jesus and grieve with them, cry with them, just be present and listen. If someone believes they can’t be forgiven, we take them to Jesus and remind them of the one who forgives and that nothing can separate them from that love. If someone needs practical help, we take them to Jesus and bring them a meal, offer childcare for a breather, get them the resources they need. We don’t just speak truth – we show them truth by what we do.
Ultimately, be the community that you want. If you need a meal, take a meal. If you need healing, pray for someone who needs healing. Be what others need and the community will evolve in our lives as we make that investment.
I can’t thank God enough for the community of healers throughout my life. Not perfect people – but people who took me to Jesus the best way they knew how.