October 1 I Saturday
“Jesus stepped into a boat, crossed over and came to His own town. Some men brought to Him a paralysed man, lying on a mat.” —Matthew 9:1-2
When Jesus returned to His hometown of Capernaum, a huge crowd gathered in a home to listen to Him teach. In Mark’s account of this event, we learn that the crowd was so great that men carrying a paralyzed man were not able to get to Jesus. Hence, they climbed to the top of the roof, made an opening and lowered the paralyzed man before Jesus. We can observe two things through this event. Firstly, some people want to get to Jesus, but they cannot get there themselves. Like the paralyzed man, he needed someone—friends—to carry him to Jesus. Secondly, perseverance shows a tenacity of faith. The friends of the paralyzed man had to persevere through some obstacles, such as the crowd and the roof, but they did not give up at the first obstacle; they pressed on and managed to get the paralyzed man before Jesus.
These men created quite a scene as they interrupted Jesus’s teaching, but Jesus was not concerned about that. Instead, Matthew 9:2 tells us, “When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the man, ‘Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.’” The Greek word for “take heart” could also be translated as “take courage, cheer up, be comforted.” Jesus’s response must have been somewhat unexpected for the paralyzed man and his friends. They were probably expecting Jesus to heal the man physically, but Jesus looked past the physical condition, the exterior, spoke to the root of the man’s problem and declared him clean. Could the man’s physical condition somehow be connected to his spiritual condition? In other words, was the man paralyzed by sin?
Some of us may relate to the paralyzed man, where we want to get to Jesus, but the sin in our lives has us paralyzed. Theologian John Piper explains, “There is a Christian version of this paralysis. The decision has been made to trust Christ. The shoot of hope and joy has sprung up. The long battle against sin has begun. But the defeats are many, and the plant begins to wither....The problem is not perplexing doctrine or evolutionary assaults or threats of persecution. The problem is falling down too many times. Gradually the fatal feeling creeps in: the fight is futile; it isn’t worth it.” We all have moments in our journey with Christ where we do not feel like we are moving forward or growing. In our struggling moments to hold onto hope, we actually need faithful friends to carry us where we cannot bring ourselves. We are not meant to live the Christian life in isolation. Do we have faithful friends to help us when we struggle? Or who can we be a faithful friend to today?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for faithful friends that You have blessed me with when I struggle in my walk with You. Please show me whom I can be a faithful friend to today, and bring them before You.