“One day Jesus was teaching, and Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there. They had come from every village of Galilee and from Judea and Jerusalem. 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 NIV).
As I write this the damage from Hurricane Ida is still fresh all throughout south Louisiana. The winds were some of the strongest ever and damaged the roofs of many houses. The winds forced scores of trees to fall and some punched holes in the roofs of some houses. Nobody wants a hole in their roof but if you were paralyzed during the time of Jesus you would be grateful if your friends made a hole in the roof of a house to lower you into the presence of our Lord.
In Luke 5 we read a fascinating story in which a group of men bring their paralyzed friend to Jesus to be healed. At first glance this is “just” another story in which Jesus performs a miracle. You may recall in Matthew 20:16 that Mary addressed Jesus as Rabonni, which means teacher in Hebew. As a teacher, perhaps Jesus likely recognized the opportunity as a “teachable moment.” Yes, this was a moment for our Lord to again demonstrate His divinity. In addition, the four friends in the story were also teaching by modeling godly behavior. Below are a few characteristics of these friends that are invaluable to us today as we seek to minster to a fallen world.
Faith. Scripture does not tell us about the strength of the faith of the paralytic man. However, Scripture does teach us that the man was healed because Jesus saw the faith of his friends. So, we can assume that the friends at a minimum had the faith of a mustard seed (Matthew 17:20). Jesus repeatedly teaches the importance of faith throughout the Gospels. All ministry must be deeply rooted in faith in Jesus.
Friendship. The paralytic man wisely chose to be friends with four men that were there for him when he most needed their friendship. The friends were ministering to the paralytic man The friends were showing true friendship based on Proverbs 17:17 – “A friend loves at all times,, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.” A very important spiritual gift is that of presence. Zoom and FaceTime are wonderful but, there is no substitute for being physically present with a friend in a time of adversity.
Persistence. It is so easy to give up when things get tough. The men in Luke 5 encountered a huge crowd around Jesus and could have easily given up and their friend would not have been healed. However, they persisted to find a way to help their friend. Scripture repeatedly addresses the benefits of persistence with the parable of “A Friend Comes at Midnight” (Luke 11:5-8) and the lesson of “Keep Asking, Seeking, and Knocking” (Luke 11:9-13). It is easy to get discouraged as we try to reach family, friends, and acquaintances with the Gospel. Galatians 6:9 says, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” We must be persistent in our ministry to others because the stakes are huge and eternal.
Innovation. If the friends had persisted in what they were doing, then their friend would not have been healed. The crowd was too large, and they could not get through. God gave us brains so we can think. It’s innovative to tear a hole in a roof and lower your friend down to be with Jesus! Don’t you think the friends made a mess when they made the hole in the roof? Ministry can sometimes be messy, but if we speak the truth in love then we have a powerful witness.
Cooperation. These men had to cooperate to do this job. One many simply could not do this job alone. There is strength in numbers. “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken” (Ecclesiastes 4:12). The men not only had strength in their own numbers but stepped out in faith to tap into the immeasurable strength of Jesus for non-selfish reasons. This small group of men brought another man to Jesus. People are more likely to respond to the Gospel in the context of a supportive, small group.
Sacrifice. In your ministry you will be subjected to jealousy, hatred, and slander. Jesus said, “You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved (Matthew 10:22). The friends not only sacrificed their time, but they also sacrificed the roof of a stranger! Scripture does not tell us who repaired the roof, but I suspect the friends sacrificed their time and resources to do this. Whether it’s time, money, or something else, there is always a cost to bringing someone to Christ. Luke 16:9 teaches, “Use your worldly resources to benefit others and make friends. Then, when your possessions are gone, they will welcome you to an eternal home.” We must be willing to make sacrifices if we are truly going to fulfill the Great Commission.
Prayer: Dear God, Thank you for speaking to us through Holy Scripture. Help us to not only understand but to also apply the lessons of Scripture to our daily lives. In particular, help us to use the lessons of Luke and all of Scripture as we minister to the world in Your name. Amen.
Todd Shupe is a Men’s Ministry Specialist under the direction of the General Commission of United Methodist Men and is concurrently in training to become a Lay Minister under the Louisiana Conference of the United Methodist Church. He enjoys writing inspirational Christian blogs at toddshupe.com.
Gulf South Men is a regional ministry coming along side churches and men’s ministries by offering Education, Training, Resources, Men’s Events and Mentoring to help churches build effective men’s ministry and make disciples for Christ.
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