Four Sweaty Men! – Mark 2 vs 1 - 12
Yes, that’s the title of today’s Around Twelve...Four Sweaty Men! Why? Because by the time the four friends of this paralysed man had carried him to the cottage meeting in Capernaum, had a think about a Plan B to get near to Jesus, battled their way through the growing crowd, struggled with him up the narrow outside stairs of the house to the roof, and tore open a hole big enough to lower their friend inside...they would have been fairly sweaty! What does this say to us? Faith in Jesus is the gift of God’s grace, nothing at all to do with us (Ephesians 2:8), but its outworking is often a sleeves-rolled-up messy business.
This is not the place to do theological nit-picking about the connection between ‘faith’ and ‘healing,’ but it is the place to notice these words: “When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralysed man, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven,’” (5). If this man had one encouraging word which gave his life meaning in his despair, it was ‘friends.’ He had “some men” (3) who were his friends and there were “four of them” (3) who were extra special and, come what may, they would carry him to Jesus.
These determined men wanted their friend to walk again and get his life back. They didn’t even have speak to Jesus. He saw THEIR faith and mercy flowed from Him. It was what Jesus saw that captured His heart. When it does, He sees that the paralysis is deeper that it appears. Within that emaciated body lies a soul paralysed by sin...“Son, your sins are forgiven” (5). First things first. To be forgiven is critical. Unless this root cause of all suffering is addressed, any solution to illness, and other problems is temporary at best. Restoring his mobility is ultimately useless if he remains cut off from his Creator. But four sweaty friends and a hole brought him into the glory of another kingdom and its King ...forgiven!
Perhaps this passage should remind us of those who carried us to Jesus. No matter what excuses we made, they refused to leave us on our bed of sin. No matter what obstacles, physical or spiritual, they kept digging until we lay at the feet of Jesus. This is God’s messy grace...thankfully! Is there someone who needs us to be a friend with our sleeves rolled up, ready to break into a sweat in our efforts to show them Jesus. Perhaps we need to consider what our ‘through-the-roof’ ministry should look like!
Try praying along these lines: Father God, thank You for the handful of faithful friends who carried me on their shoulders and brought me to you. Thank You for all the trouble they went to, that no matter how lame my excuses, they refused to leave me on my mat. Thank You for ........ and ........ and ........ .
Father, thank You for the gift of faith which You have given me. Please now help me to be a friend to those who are in need...whether illness or disability, loneliness or depression; whether stunned by the circumstances of their lives or paralysed by that deep disease of the soul...sin. May I roll up my sleeves to do whatever it takes to get them to the mercy of Jesus. Especially I pray for........ and ........ and ....... .