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.”
-Mark 2:1-5 (NIV)
Can you imagine the scene?
This guy named Jesus came through your town performing all kinds of miracles. He returns, and this time you have a front-row seat. You are actually in his presence as he teaches. Out of nowhere, you hear a rumble on the roof. Dust and plaster start to fall. Next thing you know a paralyzed man on a mat is being lowered by four other men through the roof directly in front of Jesus.
Bizarre story, isn’t it. Well, this is the beginning of Mark Chapter 2.
To be clear, this isn’t a case of an event that needs to be viewed through the lens of its time. Ripping a hole in a stranger’s roof wasn’t common in 1st-century Jewish culture; it was just plain weird.
And I can’t help but love the desperation and the sheer chutzpah of the paralytic’s friends. I mean, they believed in Jesus enough to destroy private property, interrupt his preaching, and probably cover him in dirt!
But did you notice Jesus’ reaction? We would think a correction, a gentle rebuke at minimum, would be in order. However, there is no condemnation from Jesus at all. Instead, he is marveled at their faith.
In the same way as the four friends, we too must be willing to do whatever it takes to get others to Jesus. Individually, we must be willing to cast our pride and fears to the side. Collectively, our churches must be creative and innovative enough to lay all the options out on the table… “Here are the ways we can reach people for Jesus.” If it’s sinful or unbiblical, throw it out. Everything else is fair game.
And it is imperative that we do not overlook the obvious point from this story — the paralytic had to be carried on a mat. Sometimes we have to do the carrying to get people to come to Jesus! We must make the sacrifice. We must make the initiation. Because they will not come on their own… They are paralyzed!
Do you find it odd that the first thing Jesus says to the man is, “Son, your sins are forgiven”? The guy is clearly paralyzed. Jesus knew that. I think it’s simply a reminder of his mission… Jesus came to forgive sin and offer salvation to the world, more important than any physical or temporal need we have on Earth.
So what are you waiting for? Someone is counting on you to get them to Jesus. Are you willing to do whatever it takes? Anything that is blocking us, hindering us, or slowing us down needs to be dug up and thrown out! And that includes our insecurities, reputations, comforts and personal preferences.
The risk is worth it. Why? Because Jesus knew that our reconciliation to the Father was of the utmost importance. His obedience even unto death proves that.
Jesus understood “Whatever it takes.”