And the power of the Lord was with Jesus to heal the sick. Some men came carrying a paralyzed man on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus. When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus.
When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven” (Luke 5:17-20).
Notice that Jesus saw the faith of the sick man’s friends. He forgave the man’s sins and healed his infirmity! What was it about the faith of a few friends that ignited the miracle? Their persistence? Audacity? Willingness to step outside the customary bounds?
Or just maybe it was their love for their dear friend. I like to think that these guys had suffered with their friend. Prayed with and for him. Refused to give up on him. Did whatever it took to get him to Jesus. They believed in the power of Jesus to set their friend free. These guys were true intercessors.
I have a friend right now who is fighting for her life…wrestling with a cruel and long-standing addiction. Complicated by a history of childhood abuse and a host of serious medical problems, she reached the point of exhaustion and hopelessness. She considered ending her life. And then, in stepped a few good friends. Together, they did battle to find a place of recovery and the means to get there. Grace and mercy in action. And how they did pray!
I’m watching this little team of friends demonstrate the power of persistent prayer and loving action. They “carved a hole in the roof” to place their friend at the feet of Jesus. Friends, isn’t this our calling as believers? To be vessels of the same mercy we’ve received from the Lord? It was Jesus himself who reminds us that there is no greater love than to “lay down our life for our friends.”
I’ll leave you with my favorite definition of Mercy: Mercy is the willingness to enter the chaos of another person’s life.
Lord, make us willing to become Your vessels of mercy. -Amen