Ripping Through the Roof
Last Sunday, my pastor was able to solidify something that had been slowly bubbling up from the shallow sludge of my mind for the past couple of weeks.
He taught on Luke 5:17-26 – Jesus Heals a Paralytic
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. Some men came carrying a paralyzed man on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus. 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.
When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.”
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?”
Jesus knew what they were thinking and asked, “Why are you thinking these things in your hearts? Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? 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.”Immediately he stood up in front of them, took what he had been lying on and went home praising God. Everyone was amazed and gave praise to God. They were filled with awe and said, “We have seen remarkable things today.”
There are many wonderful things to glean from this passage – one of them being the deity of Christ – which is important, but that wasn’t the focus of the sermon.
The focus of the sermon was the boldness of the paralytic man’s friends and how it was the faith of his friends that eventually caused Jesus to heal him.
He also brought out that the word ‘paralyzed’ in the Greek, the language that the passage was originally written in, was a common medical term used in the first century Roman world. This word didn’t necessarily mean only physical paralysis – but could also mean, a stroke, or a type of shock, or debilitating mental state brought on by trauma – much like PTSD.
For the past couple of weeks I’d been wrestling with what to do for a dear friend of mine who suffers excruciating pain constantly yet is unable to properly metabolize any form of pain medication. She’s tried every possible pain medication you can think of and at best it doesn’t work at all – and at worst it causes severe reactions that are more devastating than the acute pain she suffers. She’s even tried cannabis in various forms and potency’s and nothing seems to work.
I and other friends have watched as this illness has slowly taken her away from us and a lot of other people that love her. This friend, who is known by her joy, sense of humor, beautiful haunting singing voice, and the way she lights up a room, is now often so overcome by pain that it takes a tremendous amount of strength and willpower just to make it through each hour of the day. It breaks my heart – it breaks everyone’s heart that knows her.
As a Christian, we draw strength from our community and when one suffers or is separated from us, we’re all affected whether we fully realize it or not.
The story of the paralytic man also reminds me of myself. It reminds me of when I was stuck in spiritual darkness and depression, where my faith was so paralyzed that I couldn’t even pray for help, I couldn’t read the bible – in fact I hated it. I could barely make it to church – and when I did, I felt so separated from God and people that I didn’t have the strength to reach out for help.
I had food, clothes, a roof over our head and a working car – praise God! The needs I had were emotional, spiritual and psychological and were much harder to help in a practical or physical way.
But, imagine having friends like the paralytic man, who could come alongside and say, “You know what? I understand. You’re in a really weakened state right now and that’s okay. You don’t have faith? I’ll share mine with you. You can’t pray right now? I’ll pray for you. You can’t read your bible right now – don’t worry – I’ll read it for you, believe it for you and send you the verses I think God wants to speak to you. I’ll do whatever it takes to help you right now and get you back with us because, you know what? We need you and when you hurt, we all hurt.
Or to have friends that would pray for healing and if God didn’t answer it right away, they wouldn’t give up and just think, “Oh, it must not be God’s will.” We want a friend like those of the paralytic who saw the obstacle of a crowded house and they didn’t just give up and go home. They said, “Okay, listen guys, new plan. We’re going to climb up on this roof, tear it open and drop our friend on this Jesus’ lap. We are not going home until he gets to Jesus.”
You know, maybe God’s will is to get us to fight for one another, to come together in unity for our hurting members.
Can you imagine a church full of people who ripped off the roofs for each other? Who loved each other so much, they would do whatever it took to help those of them that were hurting? Imagine if they took that love into their community, their workplaces, schools, or out on the street?
People would be begging to hear more about the God we serve if we did those kinds of things.
We have so much material wealth as Christians in America, but we have very, very little love for those around us. And I’m the first to admit this. If I’m going to be really, truly honest – I have very little love for anyone other than myself. And when I do manage to do something completely un-selfish – oh, how tired I am the next day! How I groan about how unselfish I was! Oh, let me just (gasp) take a seat for a minute! It’s really ****ing sad, actually.
So, to sum this all up – I want God to make me into a friend that doesn’t stop at the first obstacle that gets in my way. I want to be a friend that doesn’t give up after just a few prayers, a friend that’s willing to rip off the roof in prayer when there’s nothing else to do but set them before God and basically say, “Lord, Please! Do something!”
“I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other.” John 15:15-17