scroll down >
Jesus is in a house teaching. There is a crowd. It is packed. Four friends bring their crippled friend to see Jesus in hope of his being healed. They reach the house and there is no way in. Should they leave and try another day? No, for they are urgent in the chore at hand. They are determined friends of this cripple. Up on the roof they go. Many houses had flat roofs with straw or tiles that could easily be removed. They start removing tiles. As Jesus is teaching, a hole appears in the roof. Dust falls below. Four faces peer down. They may have removed more tiles. They get their friend on the stretcher and lower him down. Everyone in the house would have looked up at what was going on. Down, down, down he is lowered. The people move aside to make room for the stretcher. Jesus' first words are, "Friend, your sins are forgiven..."
Two lessons: 1. Importance of working together. 2. The importance of the soul compared to the body.
1. Working together: unity of faith.
Look at what can be accomplished when brethren are of like mind and work together. "Try your best to let God's Spirit keep your hearts united" (Ephesians 4:2, Contemporary English).
Faith is a visible work. Jesus saw their faith. What did He see? He saw four friends who believed that Jesus would make a difference. They would not give up. That is the way faith is. Faith is action. Faith is demonstrated. Faith is not passive. Faith is not silent. Faith will move a person. It moved Noah to build the ark. It moved Abraham to move out of Ur and journey to a land God prepared. Faith will move you to obey Jesus. It will move you to walk in righteousness. When someone says they have faith but you don't see it and they talk and walk like the world, something is wrong, especially with their faith. It's simply not working.
One person could not have done this on his own. It took them all. Without all of them believing, the crippled man would have remained on the ground outside the house.
Sometimes it takes more than just one spiritual soul to save the prodigal. "Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness" (Galatians 6:1, English Standard). I like the unity of these friends who believed and worked together to help the crippled before Jesus.
2. The importance of the soul compared to the body.
"For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? " (Matthew 16:26)
The second lesson is seen in Jesus forgiving the crippled man. His friends brought him to Jesus to be healed, and the Lord healed him in a way they never knew. It does little good to heal crippled legs if the heart and soul remain crippled. A person with crippled legs can go to Heaven. But a person with a crippled heart cannot. Jesus healed the man's greatest problem. Most of us do not realize this ourselves. We worry when a loved one gets cancer, and we should. We call upon brethren to pray for them. Wonderful thing to do. But what about their spiritual condition? How many have cancer of the soul and we think nothing of that. If the cancer leaves and they die without knowing Jesus, they will be lost.
Elders are called when someone is sick. They pray. The prayer of the righteous avails much. "And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him" (James 5:15).
Jesus gets it right. He emphasized the soul. He cured the soul and then healed the body.
THROW OUT THE LIFELINE