By CRAIG HARRIS
Mark 2: 1-12 (NIV): A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. So many gathered that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them. Some men came, bringing to him a paralytic, carried by four of them. Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus and, after digging through it, lowered the mat the paralyzed man was lying on. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "Son, your sins are forgiven." Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, "Why does this fellow talk like that? He's blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?" Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, "Why are you thinking these things? Which is easier: to say to the paralytic, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Get up, take your mat and walk'? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins . . ." He said to the paralytic, "I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home." He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, "We have never seen anything like this!"
This is one of my favorite Bible stories for so many reasons. Jesus used this opportunity to show that he was not just a prophet or wise man, but God in the flesh. This story also points out that our most important need is right-standing with God. After all, everything on this earth is only temporary; it is what happens for all eternity that truly matters. This life is only a finger-snap compared to eternity.
Now, let’s consider the men who brought their friend to Jesus. They are a great example of what it takes to bring someone to Christ. First, it took quite a bit of effort. They didn't just tell the crippled man he should go see Jesus, they went and got him. Then, they worked together and physically carried him to where Jesus was. Sometimes the best way to get a friend to Jesus is for a group of us to gang up on him and take him to church.
And then when the men got there, they couldn't get to Jesus because of the crowd, but they didn't give up as we often do. They found the tools and rope they needed, climbed up on the roof, and proceeded to dig through. Now that is wanting to get to Jesus! They probably got dirt in their eyes and sweat on their clothes.
And imagine the dirt that rained down on Jesus and the crowd below. Houses were built differently back then, of course, and the roof could probably have been repaired fairly easily, but it still must have been quite a shock when it happened. Sometimes, if we are going to reach people for Christ, we are going to have to damage some property and get our hands dirty. I would rather tear up a church building by constant use than keep it pristine because nothing much happens there.
Autographed copies of Craig's fiction novel The Dead Peasants File are for sale at Blaser's Books in downtown Palestine. Harris is the pastor at Brushy Creek and Mt. Vernon United Methodist Churches.