Tearing apart the roof

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.

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