In The Hands Of Loving Friends
Chan Gin Kai
Some men came carrying a paralysed 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.” (Luke 5:18-20)
“But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the paralysed 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. (Luke 5:24-25)
You’ve got to take your hat off to the friends of the paralytic.
Nothing was going to stop these friends from helping the paralytic get healed. When they heard about Jesus’ ability to heal, they decided to act together because carrying the paralytic to Jesus wouldn’t have been an easy task. And when they could not find a way through the crowd, they carried the paralytic up the roof, dug a hole through it, and lowered him down on his mat to Jesus.
The distance and weight didn’t discourage them; they just had to call more friends. The crowd couldn’t stop them; they just had to reach Jesus through a more unconventional way. But what if they did all of that and Jesus refused or failed to heal the paralytic? It would simply be a loss of effort and an embarrassment. But they had faith in Jesus, and they would stop at nothing for a friend they love. They had seen the pain he had suffered, the dreams that are dashed, and the opportunities lost. So they were determined to help him.
Luke records that Jesus responded when he saw “their faith”. It was the faith of the friends that impressed Jesus, and led to the healing and salvation of the paralytic. He wouldn’t have been able to draw close to Jesus without their faith. They literally (and figuratively) brought him to Christ.
Now we can’t believe or repent or get baptised on someone else’s behalf, for we are all responsible for our own sins (Ezekiel 18:20). But like the friends of the paralytic, we can play important roles in bringing spiritual healing and salvation to people.
Whether it is bringing unbelievers to Christ, or strengthening a weak Christian, our faith makes a difference. The real question is do we love enough? Does the effort required intimidate us? Do we get discouraged when obstacles appear? Does the fear of rejection or embarrassment deter us?
Luke had focused on the friends’ faith, but the paralytic had played his own small part too. He wasn’t dragged screaming and kicking to Jesus. He agreed to be carried there, brought up a roof and lowered on a mat to Jesus. It was a precarious operation, especially for a disabled man. What if they slip and drop him? Why subject himself to even more ridicule than he has already received as a paralytic? He allowed himself to be put in a vulnerable position, and placed his trust in the love of his friends.
Whether we’re new to the faith, have been Christians for ages, or even become leaders of churches, we need help to grow spiritually. We need friends like the ones the paralytic had, and we need to be open to getting help. It is not hard to find loving friends like them in a church that truly seeks Christ. But are we humble enough to receive help? Do we assume we’re okay? Are we willing to be vulnerable? Do we confess our sins to each other?
Not only do we need friends, we need friends who have faith in God. I am sure we all have friends, but do we have spiritual friends? The process of helping each other draw closer to God can be comfortable. Do we avoid the difficult talks with each other out of fear we might ‘hurt’ our friendship?
Let’s love like the paralytic’s friends, and lend our faith to those who are weaker. Let’s also be open and vulnerable like the paralytic, for we all need help to draw close to Jesus. We can play important roles in each other's healing and salvation.
Do you have faithful friends? Are you a faithful friend?
Chan Gin Kai
Gin Kai is a film producer who believes in the power of media to inspire positive changes. He has spearheaded disaster relief and capacity building projects in impoverished communities across Asia. In church, he serves as a mentor to young professionals in the EDGE Ministry. He describes himself as "just a sinner who wants to get right with God".