The faith of our Friends
Oct. 12, 09
I might spend a day or two in Luke 5. I’ve been blessed with another word as I re-read that chapter again today.
Luke 5:20 Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the man, “Young man, your sins are forgiven.”
I suppose I could delve into the meaning/
significance of why Jesus chose to forgive the mans sins, rather than heal his obvious malady (like the ever-present Pharisees choose to do). But something much more intriguing (though far less theological) struck me today. First the context.
Jesus is teaching in a private home, the crowd of
Pharisees and teachers of the religious law were sitting around. I sometimes wonder what it must have been like to always be teaching with that ever-present crowd of detractors/enemies always in the midst. I know what it does to me when I preach and even one person is there who I know doesn’t l
ike me…it’s tough! This parable doesn’t mention it, but in Mark the men carrying their friend on a mat, number 4, and they are specifically named as friends. These friends are carrying their crippled/handicapped buddy to Jesus for healing. They encounter crowds so large they can’t get inside the house. The window sills are bulging with people and afford no access either. So the determined bunch do the only thing they can think of to get their hurting buddy in front of Jesus; the chop or cut or make a hole in the roof, large enough to lower their friend directly in front of Jesus.
It had to be a rather large hole don’t you think? And if history is correct, the roof of branches, twigs, leaves and dirt would provide quite a mess on the head of Jesus as he taught, and they worked to get their buddy in front of the Master. However it happened (and pardon my overactive imagination if that distracts from the story), they lowered their friend before Jesus.
What happens next is what blew me away today (and some years ago). It states very clearly that Jesus looked up, and “when he saw their faith”, he healed (or forgave) their friend. No mention is made of the man’s faith. I can just imagine Jesus looking to that large hole in the roof and the grinning grimy faces of four goofy friends are looking longingly for Jesus to heal their buddy. When Jesus saw their faith, he healed their friend.
Now, here is the point for me today. There are times in our lives when we feel like we don’t have enough faith. Maybe they are times of severe physical or mental illness, times of great sadness or grief, times of unmerited pain from myriads of sources, or times of just being out of touch with God. I believe the subtle message here is that in those times when we don’t have enough faith to keep going…we can rely on the faith of our friends to carry us to Jesus. Isn’t it a wonderful thing to see that Jesus healed the man, without acknowledging his faith or lack thereof…he only notices the friends faith, but still heals their friend.
I visited with a man last week who is dying the tragic death from ALS. His faith is depleted, all his earthly energy is being consumed just staying alive. So I called on his family to be faithful for him as they carry him through his last days on his way to Jesus. I called on him to simply relax and trust that his family and friends (church too) would do our level best to hold him up before the Healer. I hope that Jesus might see our faith, and strengthen his as he brings him ultimate healing.
God help me be faithful for those in my circle who are struggling, and help me live in the confidence that I have faithful friends who carry me at times when my faith is run out. Amen.