Bringing a Friend to Jesus
It is a curious fact that God delights to reveal His character in response to faith. Although many people are confused in their understanding about faith, it is really quite simple. Faith is not a feeling to be generated - it is the essence of relationship. Real friendship is impossible unless we share ourselves with each other. Faith is a practical decision to commit yourself to another person because you believe that they will not disappoint you. So it is with God. He discloses His character and we trust Him to express His nature: as we worship Him, He meets our need.
When Jesus was invited to someone's home, curious crowds gathered, inside and around the house, to see what He was like. One man could not get near. He was late and he was paralysed: but four friends carried him to the house. Nobody would let them through to see Jesus, so the men took their friend up the outside steps onto the flat roof. Pulling off the outer waterproof thatch they made a hole and lowered the man down in front of the Lord. This was taking faith to extraordinary lengths and Jesus responded by announcing His divine nature as He forgave the man's sins.
Whose faith did Jesus see? The men had all agreed to get their friend to Jesus and accepted no obstacle because they believed that Jesus could heal the man (Matthew 18:19-20). The man also was in agreement because when Jesus turned to him, his sins were forgiven before his body was healed. Although healing was a sign of the Lord's divine authority, His primary mission was to save people from their sins (Matthew 1:21). That is the centre point of the gospel; and the trainee apostles needed to understand that early on – otherwise they might think that their role was to be empowered health-workers rather than to announce eternal salvation through Jesus.
When the four men half demolished the roof to bring a sick man to Jesus, they were acting in faith. They believed in Jesus. They believed that if they could get the man to Jesus, He would do the rest: and Jesus did! He saw more than just the physical weakness; He saw a spiritual cripple who trusted Him, and He forgave his sins. This story should make us wonder what might happen if we trusted Jesus with every situation (2 Thessalonians 1:11). Could He meet the deepest needs of our friends and colleagues? Theoretically, we might believe, but if we have done nothing to bring our associates to Jesus - what kind of faith is that?
© Dr Paul Adams