And when he returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. And many were gathered together, so that there was no more room, not even at the door. And he was preaching the word to them. And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him, and when they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”
Mark 2:1-5 ESV
I’ve read this passage in Mark several times, though admittedly not for a couple years. And I regret that until now, I’ve understood this account in a very wrong way. I used this story as a justification for me to run ahead of where God has me. “If the door is closed, that just means you should cut a hole in the roof!” Isn’t that what a better person would do? As I read this passage this weekend I realized just how much I missed.
Firstly, the thing these four men were trying to get to was Jesus. Not a personal goal. My greatest guess is that these men had been waiting for Jesus to return to Capernaum and knew just how dire it was to get their friend into the presence of Jesus. I would imagine there’s a short list of acceptable reasons to cut a man-sized hole into the roof of a stranger’s house, and meeting your Savior would definitely be at the top of the list. Before, I would read this text and tell myself “See? You just need to try harder, work smarter, convince your husband better, that what you want is the priority and therefore worth getting to. Unfortunately, Jesus was rarely if ever the thing I was willing to scale walls for.
The next thing that stood out to me is these friends realize the only way to make their friend better is Christ the Lord. I wondered how this situation would pan out in present day. I’d be the friend checking Google to see what remedies I could find to cure paralysis. Or maybe at best, I’d be the friend setting up a meal train and bringing meals to my paralyzed friend. These things in and of themselves are not bad things, they’re just not the better thing. They’re not the best thing. Natural remedies and home cooked meals are good, but won’t save your soul. And that’s what Jesus did for this man when he saw their faith and said “Son, your sins are forgiven!” These men knew in their hearts that a meeting with Jesus was enough to save their friend.
I’m a distracted person in a distracting world. I lose my way more often than I should and often don’t know which direction to move in. I love that this passage reminds me so clearly that I have just one worthwhile pursuit in life, Jesus Christ. And, because of his death and resurrection, I don’t have to worry about pushing through a crowd and being lowered in from the ceiling. The blood of Christ gives me direct access to the ear of God any time. Lord, please help me not take that for granted.