Sometimes it’s hard to hold onto hope in the middle of life’s storms. We may have to lean on the help of a few good friends. It was one of those times for the paralytic in Luke 5. We don’t know the man’s ailment; what we do know is that he was helpless. So his friends carried the man on a mat to see the Master. Their way was blocked by the crowd, but they were persistent and clever. They climbed on the roof, hauled up their sick buddy, and lowered him through a hole they made in the roof—right in front of Jesus. Pretty daring!
But instead of rebuking them, Jesus (maybe with a hint of a smile) applauded their faith. Right then and there, he healed their friend!
Let’s reflect further on this miracle: 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 NIV).
Jesus saw the faith of the sick man’s friends and forgave the man of his sins. Then he healed him. As everyone watched, the man “jumped up, picked up his mat, and went home praising God” (Luke 5:25, 26). The onlookers were “gripped with awe and wonder” and praised God, too. Could the faith of a few friends have ignited such miracle? Was it their persistence? Their willingness to take a risk? Maybe all of those.
But I like to think it was also their love for their friend that opened the door to the miracle. They had suffered with this man. Prayed for him. Refused to give up on him. Did whatever it took to get him to Jesus. Most important of all, they believed in the power of Jesus, Son of the Living God, to set their friend free.
These friends were true intercessors. They knew what it meant to stand in the gap. They remind me of some friends who stood in the gap for a woman I know. She was caught in the grip of addiction. She’d lost hope—even the will to live. Together, her friends waged a battle for her on their knees.
How they did pray! That little team of friends demonstrated the power of persistent prayer and loving action. They “made a hole in the roof” to place their friend at the feet of Jesus. Maybe this is our calling as believers. To be vessels of the same mercy we’ve received from the Lord. Agents of hope. 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 be Your vessels of mercy and agents of hope to a hurting and broken world. –Amen