You have heard the story many times growing up. It is found in Matthew 9 (although this version does not tell about the roof entrance), Mark 2 and Luke 5. The paralytic man was carried by men to see Jesus, but they could not get through the crowd of people packed in to hear Jesus. The men carried the handicapped man to the roof and made a hole to lower him into Jesus’ presence. It is a very compelling story to tell to children, but I would like to unpack my impressions and thoughts about this episode, focusing on the versions in Mark and Luke as they are the most alike.
He knew he had a problem; after all, he could not walk! He also knew he could not seek out Jesus by himself. We are not told if he believed in the teachings of Jesus or if he just thought that such a talked-about man could help him somehow. The man was determined to get to where Jesus was teaching, and he was very persuasive in getting others to help him. We aren’t told if his bearers were family, friends, or hired men. We don’t know how far they had to travel.
Q: Do we always have a strong, internal motivation for seeking out Jesus?
Q: Do we have self-unrecognized problems that also need Jesus’ attention?
Men Who Carried
Whatever their relationship to the paralytic, these men were strongly motivated to help. They were determined to succeed in the face of obstacles when their first attempt to approach Jesus was blocked and ingenious in finding a solution to the problem.
Q: How much are we willing to go out of our way to help someone who is seeking Jesus?
Q: How persistent are we in easing the paths of those around us?
Note: Houses of nonaffluent people in the time of Christ were small, typically one small room. The roofs were constructed with timbers overlaid with bundles of reeds tied together then covered with a mud plaster of earth, chalk, and ash and finally rolled flat. When dried, this made a very hard roof about three inches thick. Creating a hole in this type of roof would not be an easy task.
The people surrounding Jesus seemed to be too engrossed in Jesus to notice and make way for the handicapped man and his entourage, or perhaps they were reluctant to give ground for such a large group to pass through. Mark and Luke say that there were teachers of the law and Pharisees present. Were they there to learn or to criticize?
Q: Are we at least willing to stand aside to not be an inadvertent impediment to someone seeking God?
Q: How hungry are we to hear the words of Christ to the exclusion of all else around us?
When confronted with the paralyzed man making his unusual entrance, Jesus saw the man’s most important need. The man thought his inability to walk was his greatest problem, but Jesus saw he was in need of forgiveness of his sins. Jesus addressed the man saying his sins were forgiven. Challenging the onlookers who labeled him a blasphemer, Jesus questioned which was easier – to say “your sins are forgiven or to command the man to get up and walk.”
Q: Do we see our deepest needs in the same manner as Jesus does?
Q: Do we focus on superficial desires instead of focusing on the call of Jesus to us and our response to him?
If you or I were a bystander in the crowd that day, would we marvel more at the healing power of Jesus for our souls or the healing of the paralytic legs, or both? What do you see as the greatest miracle in your life?
Do you “see” the miracles of God in your life each day? If you don’t, are you looking?