Matthew, Mark, and Luke all share a story about a paralyzed man whom Jesus heals. The man is the center of the story, but he plays a passive role. The only thing he does occurs after Jesus heals him, when he gets up and walks home.
The active participants in the story are the paralyzed man’s four friends. Here’s what happens.
When Jesus comes to town, the four friends believe that he can heal their paralyzed buddy. They act. They load him on a stretcher and carry him to the healer. But they can’t reach Jesus. There are too many people, both inside the house and blocking the door. The simple response is to simply wait for Jesus to leave and ask for his help then. But they don’t want to wait. They’re desperate to help their friend walk. They lug him to the rooftop, make an opening, and lower him inside, right in front of Jesus. He sees their faith—not the faith of the paralyzed man.
What does Jesus do? He forgives the man for his mistakes. Though everyone thinks the man’s greatest need is for his legs to work, Jesus knows better. He offers forgiveness instead.
The religious leaders are aghast. “Who is this arrogant man who thinks he can forgive sins?” they think.
Reading their minds, Jesus asks, “What’s easier, to forgive someone or heal him?” To prove he can do both, he says, “Get up, pick up your mat, and go home.”
The man does. The crowd buzzes in awe. They praise God.
The paralyzed man receives both forgiveness and healing through Jesus, not because of anything the man did, but because of his friends. They act. They bring him to Jesus, have faith, and persist in reaching him. What if they had encountered the crowds, given up, and gone home?
Do we take a passive role in life like the paralyzed man or take action like his four friends?
Read more about other biblical characters in The Friends and Foes of Jesus, now available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.
A lifelong student of the Bible, Peter DeHaan, PhD, wrote the 1,000-page website ABibleADay.com to encourage people to explore the Bible. His main blog and many books urge Christians to push past the status quo and reconsider how they practice their faith in every area of their lives.