Several days later Jesus came back to Capernaum. The report went out that he was home. 2 Many people had gathered. There was no room left, even in front of the door. Jesus was speaking God’s word to them.3 Four men came to him carrying a paralyzed man. 4 Since they could not bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof over the place where Jesus was. Then they lowered the cot on which the paralyzed man was lying.5 When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the man, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.”6 Some experts in Moses’ Teachings were sitting there. They thought, 7 “Why does he talk this way? He’s dishonoring God. Who besides God can forgive sins?”8 At once, Jesus knew inwardly what they were thinking. He asked them, “Why do you have these thoughts? 9 Is it easier to say to this paralyzed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, pick up your cot, and walk’? 10 I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” Then he said to the paralyzed man, 11 “I’m telling you to get up, pick up your cot, and go home!”12 The man got up, immediately picked up his cot, and walked away while everyone watched. Everyone was amazed and praised God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this.”– Mark 2:1-12
Are you the man on the pallet, the friends who brought him to Jesus, the owner of the house whose roof was unroofed by these importune friends, or one of those in the crowd who was amazed and praising God? Each of us can find a place in this story. But make no mistake: even if you don’t think you’re part of this story its implications can reach far into the depths of your heart.
The man on the pallet is at his friends’ mercy. If they don’t come to his house, pick him up and put him on the pallet, carry him to the place where Jesus is teaching, and lower him down in front of Jesus he’ll never get there. Can you imagine such a dramatic miracle of healing? Can you imagine at once being crippled and then able to walk? Can you imagine hearing the words, “Your sins are forgiven you,” as you realize your need for forgiveness is greater even than your need to be freed from your bed? Then imagine being forgiven by the Son of God and able to walk out of the room under your own power!
We are all the man on the pallet. None of us has come to Jesus under our own power. That is obvious for those who were brought up in the Christian faith by faithful parents and surrounded with faithful and loving family and friends: they brought us to Jesus. We didn’t get to Jesus under our own power at 8 days old when we were baptized; we had literally to be carried to the church. We didn’t get to Sunday school and church each week under our own power. We had to be taken by someone.
Perhaps, however, you were a precocious child and decided on your own to walk the 3, 5, or 8 blocks to Sunday school each Sunday. But you didn’t build the church, nor call the pastor, nor recruit the Sunday school teachers. All those things were in place for you, provided by others. You were carried to Jesus just as surely as the paralyzed man.
Maybe you’re like my friend who was not brought up in a Christian home, who spent years and years apart from the faith, and came to faith later in life. He was seeking something more. But he will be the first to tell you that he didn’t get to Jesus on his own. There was a kind person who offered friendship and opportunity for relating to other single persons. There was the church’s singles ministry that provided the venue for him to meet the woman who is now his wife. He’ll tell you that God reached out to him and brought him to faith. He was carried to Jesus.
You might be one who made a careful search and discovered the grace and truth of Jesus Christ that spoke to your heart like no other religion or world view ever could. You must confess, however, that you did not make Jesus your Savior. Jesus made you God’s child (Thank you, Pastor Jeff Doria, for sharing this observation your son made years ago). You, too, were carried to Jesus, and God made you his child.
We may find ourselves in other places in this story. We’ll consider this throughout the week before us. But we’re all the man on the pallet in regard to getting to Jesus and experiencing his healing mercy. Thank God Jesus has come for people such as us, and for the friends who have carried us to Jesus – however they have done it.