From: Lydia Buchanan
“ A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. They gathered in such large numbers that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them. 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.” Mark 2:1-5
As I was first told this story in Sunday school, there were felt boards and it was a metaphor: I am the paraplegic man, deformed by my own personal sin, unable to get myself into the healing presence of God. This is as true now as it was twenty years ago.
But today, reading, I see his companions. They are full of faith. They are curious. They are innovative. They carry this crippled man—friend or stranger or something in between—to Jesus, believing he can be healed. To even imagine a miracle of this magnitude requires great creativity, a creativity that I know I am sometimes lacking, both in prayer and in action.
When an inconvenience arises—the crowd makes it seemingly impossible to get to Jesus—these men don’t, as I often do, turn around and go home grumpy. They don’t blame Jesus. They are faithful and from this faith springs ingenuity. If the door is blocked, make another one. Why not the roof?
For me, it is easy to call a difficulty a sign from God; it’s easy to take inconvenience as an almighty “No”. But perhaps I am listening with my imagination turned off. Perhaps I am listening only to how I expect God to speak to me. When that road seems blocked, I begin to wonder if God is not with me. As these men knew, these moments have nothing to do with God and everything to do with my limited perceptions of Him.
When the men finally get the paralytic man into Jesus’ presence, the passage reads “When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven.’”
I love this line—when Jesus saw their faith. It is the active faith of these men, faithful enough to carry a stranger to Jesus, faithful enough to not confuse inconvenience for the hand of the Lord, faithful enough to take a creative risk, that Jesus sees. We don’t know anything about what the paralytic man was thinking or feeling. Perhaps he too was a man of great faith. Perhaps not. We know that what Jesus sees and is moved by is the faith, and the faithful actions, of these companions.
I teach writing and live in Brighton with my husband Jared.