A very mysterious event is recorded in Luke 5:18-20. “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.’”
These men cared so much about their friend that they resorted to drastic measures to place him before Jesus. But that’s not the mysterious part. That Jesus should respond by forgiving the man’s sins rather than heal him (the healing comes later), is surprising, but not mysterious. This simply reveals God’s priorities for us. There is, of course, the mystery of God’s grace: How can any of us, as sinful human beings, ever draw near to the holy God, and be accepted as pure and righteous in his eyes? It is only by the blood of Jesus shed for us. The love of God for us is beyond our full comprehension.
But the mystery that remains in Luke 5:20 is in the words, “When Jesus saw their faith…” Clearly this paralyzed man had faith himself. Hebrews 11:6 says, “And without faith it is impossible to please God…” This man believed in Jesus; he trusted in Jesus; he entrusted himself to Jesus. Or he would not have been forgiven. Faith is the only way.
But Jesus responded to their faith. Who are they? The man and his four friends. Isn’t faith personal? What difference does it make for this one man’s salvation and subsequent healing that his friends also had faith?
These are true friends. Four friends, with a shared goal for their mutual friend. They show extreme determination in getting their friend to Jesus, which can only mean one thing: They love their friend very deeply. We could focus on their extraordinary methods, but the real story is their extraordinary determination, commitment, and love.
Does your faith matter in relation to your friends or loved ones? Well, you can’t believe on behalf of someone else who is not willing to believe in Jesus. But perhaps you can bring your friend to the place where they can believe.
What might the scenario of the four friends look like among us today? We may be daunted by the task of introducing our friends who don’t know Jesus yet to him. Maybe we should start by introducing them to our friends who do know Jesus, to develop a team of faithful people who have a common purpose of introducing this one to the Savior.
Jesus forgives the man’s sins as he sees their faith!
Rev. Brent Juliot is Contributing Editor to Faith & Fellowship magazine, and serves as Pastor of Living Hope Church in Menomonie, Wisconsin.