Photo by Sean Venn
I’ve been thinking some lately about the story of the miracle Jesus performed in Luke 5:17–26:
One day He was teaching; and there were some Pharisees and teachers of the law sitting there, who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem; and the power of the Lord was present for Him to perform healing.
And some men were carrying on a bed a man who was paralyzed; and they were trying to bring him in and to set him down in front of Him. But not finding any way to bring him in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down through the tiles with his stretcher, into the middle of the crowd, in front of Jesus.
Seeing their faith, He said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven you.”
The scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, “Who is this man who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone?”
But Jesus, aware of their reasonings, answered and said to them, “Why are you reasoning in your hearts? Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins have been forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? But, so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins,”–He said to the paralytic–“I say to you, get up, and pick up your stretcher and go home.”
Immediately he got up before them, and picked up what he had been lying on, and went home glorifying God.
They were all struck with astonishment and began glorifying God; and they were filled with fear, saying, “We have seen remarkable things today.”
Luke 5:17–26, NASB
One thing that caught my attention is where it says:
Seeing their faith, He said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven you.” (emphasis mine)
It wasn’t something that the paralyzed man did, it was his friends’ faith that touched Christ. That alone is a profound thought; that we could have that kind of effect on the outcome of our friends’ lives; that we can carry them up on our own faith and hope to be healed.
But I had this nagging feeling that there was more to the picture that I wasn’t seeing yet. So I waited for it.
And today it pretty much just jumped out at me.
There is a description of the faith that Jesus saw in those friends. I just always missed the picture.
What did he see? He saw men who had enough belief and faith to do whatever it took to get their friend in the presence of God. This had nothing to do with feelings; it was an aggressive, active, nothing’s-going-to-stop-us faith.
It’s easy to have these conditioned ways of thinking about spiritual things as is a result of being brought up in a world dominated by a modern Christianity which is a far cry from the faith once delivered. I think that a lot of the time we think about faith and belief as being about how we feel towards Christ.
But faith has not much to do with feelings. True faith is a incredibly practical thing, and very much tied into obedience.
This passage has an amazing example of the type of faith which Jesus loves and rewards. These guys were going to get their buddy in front of Jesus, come Hell or high water! Yes, they tried the conventional routes of going through the door. I’m sure they even jostled and pushed trying to get in. But they would not be deterred–they climbed up onto the roof of the building, tore apart the ceiling tiles, and lowered their friend down to rest right under Jesus’ nose. They had guts.
I have a feeling that Jesus probably knew what they were doing the whole time, and when the dust and debris showered down on the people smashed into the room listening to him, and the sun haloed the sweating, hopeful, and determined faces of the men carefully lowering the crippled man, he had to have been smiling.
There are people that come to mind when I think of this story; people who struggle with unbelief, and need their friends to help carry them into the presence of God.
This story takes that thought totally out of the realm of the typical “I’ll believe in you, brother,” fuzzy-feelings-all-around mindset, and puts it squarely into the “we’ve got to do something about this, and nothing’s going to stop us.” God allows us to encounter obstacles, because they are what builds our faith, but only if we work to overcome them.