The story of the paralyzed man being lowered through the roof to be healed by Jesus is one captured me as a little kid. As I grew older and became a very active athlete, I could imagine the liberation that came to that man being able to get up and walk! Not only could he move freely, but with his sins forgiven, he could live freely, too. Over the years, I have read this story countless times. There are two parts of this Gospel that always stand out for me.
1. The four friends who carry the paralyzed man
The four friends did not give up hope when at first they could not reach Jesus. They loved their friend so much that they used creativity and determination to get on the roof and lower him down. If you read it closely, the translation says that it was the faith of the friends that convinced Jesus to forgive the paralyzed man. This paralyzed man probably spent part of every single day dreaming of being able to move. Painfully, he was not physically capable of going and claiming healing on his own. I am always moved by the compassion and action of the friends to carry this man and demand that he gets healed. I have memories of friends who have loved me so much, that they would actively demand my healing. One day in high school, my two best friends cornered me in the lunchroom and said, “You are not eating enough. We are worried about you. How can we help?” Their concern was a wake-up call that help me think about the decisions I was making regarding my health. Their love advocated for me to become whole again. I have tried to be the kind of friend who cares so much that I will help people claim healing when they can’t do it on their own. There are people without voices who need our voices, there are people who can’t walk who need our feet. And sometimes, our friends will be spiritually, mentally or emotionally paralyzed and need to lean on us, too. We don’t need to do it alone. Remember, there were four friends working together to help lower this man down to Jesus.
What friends have carried you? When? How?
Who in your life needs you to carry them to go get healing?
2.The connection between the man being forgiven and the man walking
It would be so hard to be paralyzed, and Jesus’ healing was truly a miracle. Yet he says it is harder to forgive the man of his sins. Forgiveness is so hard. It is hard to ask for forgiveness, and it is hard to give it. When reconciliation can happen, however, that healing does feel like physical liberation. There was a day when I was teaching high school that I said something in class that offended one of my students. I did not try to hurt her feelings, and I fixated on my mistake all night long. In a way, my poor word choice paralyzed me. The next day when I asked for her forgiveness, she granted it to me. Her generous decision to give me another chance helped me move to a place where I could work as a teacher to do better. She helped me move again, and move toward a better version of myself. Even though I cannot image the physical limitations of the paralyzed man in the story, I do agree with Jesus that forgiving sins is essential work to our health. It is important for us to ask forgiveness of ourselves, each other and God so we can move toward self-improvement and healthy communities of grace and reconciliation.
What hurt and brokenness is leaving you paralyzed (hindering you from living in the joy of freedom?)
Who do you need to ask forgiveness from? (keep in mind that it could be yourself or your God)
Who may need your forgiveness?