The indomitable power of faith.
When I am traveling, I love the opportunity to engage in conversations with total strangers—but not about the weather or something of no real significance. No, given a little time, I like to talk about things that matter, that get to the heart of thought and interest, and hopefully, importance. As a result, I have met people on airplanes who lives thousands of miles from me who have become my friends. How great is that? I could tell you of a jiujitsu fighter in Louisville, Kentucky, a former Marine now entrepreneur in Los Angeles1, a former winery executive who now operates a luxurious day spa in Napa2, and more. The meaningful conversations oft roll out from the question, “Hey, are you a person of faith?”
Faith is an interesting word with multiple meanings. My question 'are you a person of faith?' gets at ‘do you believe in God?’ But then, faith is also the word we use to mean belief or trust—what the writer of Hebrews is speaking of when he says ‘without faith, it is impossible to please God.’3
So when I say I am a Christian, it means I have faith in God (a relationship through Jesus) and I have the faith (informed trust) that he is alive, that he is involved in the world and he cares about me! Because he cares about me, I have the faith (experiential trust) that he hears and answers my prayers. Altogether these are the reasons my relationship with God is the most important thing about me. It defines me - informs, motivates, challenges, impassions, invigorates and strengthens me as a human being.
Today, Mark describes the incredible faith of four men who do the unthinkable to get their friend to Jesus for healing.
“Dear Father, as we read, slow us down—help us learn from the men in this scene, and what Jesus saw as their friend’s biggest need.”
Mark writes: When He had come back to Capernaum several days afterward, it was heard that He was at home. And many were gathered together, so that there was no longer room, not even near the door; and He was speaking the word to them. And they came, bringing to Him a paralytic, carried by four men.
Being unable to get to Him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above Him; and when they had dug an opening, they let down the pallet on which the paralytic was lying. And Jesus seeing their faith said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”
But some of the scribes were sitting there and reasoning in their hearts, “Why does this man speak that way? He is blaspheming; who can forgive sins but God alone?” Immediately Jesus, aware in His spirit that they were reasoning that way within themselves, said to them, “Why are you reasoning about these things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven’; or to say, ‘Get up, and pick up your pallet and walk’? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.”
—He said to the paralytic, “I say to you, get up, pick up your pallet and go home.” And he got up and immediately picked up the pallet and went out in the sight of everyone, so that they were all amazed and were glorifying God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this.”
And He went out again by the seashore; and all the people were coming to Him, and He was teaching them. Mark 2.1-13
Just the facts, ma’am. We have a paraplegic who has four friends who care enough about him and have enough faith in Jesus to pick up the guy and carry him to the One who can change his life forever by healing him. Big problem—when they get to the place where Jesus is teaching, it is so crowded, they cannot get anywhere near him. What to do.
Picture it. Upon surveying the situation, they look at one another--‘Oy! What do we do now?’ Think, think, think. One of them states the obvious— ‘friends, look at this with me. There is no way to get Jesus to see Nathan4 unless we get him in front of him.’ Think, think, think. And then ‘I know this is crazy,' one of them says, 'but what if we cut a hole in the roof and lower him down?’
‘Are you nuts? How will the roof get repaired—it will have to be a huge hole! And what about all the dirt and twigs that fall down on Jesus’ head? What if he gets angry and will not even look at Nathan as a result?’
Yes, it is interesting to contemplate what might have been said between them as they wrestle with some way to get their friend to the Healer.
But first, what love they had for their friend!
And, what faith they had in Jesus. We have to assume that Nathan (our paralytic) also had faith that Jesus could heal him or he would not have gone along with such an endeavor. Hmmmm.
Their faith spoke volumes to the Lord. But as with the leper, Jesus is not interested in a partial healing--he wants to see Nathan fully restored. After all, what good would it be to save the man from his paralysis for several years if his sins keep him from the Father forever? So, he first forgives the man his sins, and then heals him of his paralysis, setting him free in this life and the next. Amazing.
So how do we get the faith mentioned above--relationship built on trust, informed faith, and faith in practice? First of all, desire it. And then, stay with me as we follow Mark’s gospel about Jesus… it will grow and inform your faith in the One who can change everything for you—Jesus, Son of God, Messiah, only King forever. And then, you will learn daily to truly have faith to trust him with all of yourself, you will learn to have faith to risk greatly for him . . . to live large for him. Sign me up.
Praying this whets your appetite for more,
The Footsteps of Jesus in the gospel of Mark, 8.
3 –Hebrews 11.6
4 - Of course, we do not know his name or his friends' but calling him Nathan makes him kinda real
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