Human beings, particularly Christians, can be a strange lot at times. What I mean is…when we see a brother or sister facing a real problem we often have a tendency to become somewhat paralyzed in our ability to reach out to God for the situation. And when it happens to us personally, the reality of it is, we often become panic stricken, depressed even somewhat bitter at life. And on occasion, even resentful towards God himself because of what is taking place around us and because others fail to assist us too.
The increditable thing that I see in this particular passage that we’re looking at here today; is that despite the paralysis that this specific young man is enduring in his life, church is going on as usual uninterrupted, without the slightest awareness on the parishioners part as to his problem.
Amazing thing isn’t? How we as believers can go right on with our lives without even noticing or caring that there are cripples all around us who need our assistance, who need the assistance of God. When we’re on the bed of despair and difficulty, we want everyone to sit up and take notice; we want someone who’ll take time to help us bear our burdens. However, when it is someone else…we’re quick to remind ourselves that it’s not our problem. Or we like to justify our indifference by saying things like… “They got themselves into this mess; let them get themselves out.”
The Bible teaches us that we are all one body, with one Lord and that every joint of that body is to supply one to another. And that we are to bear one another’s burdens, even when that burden requires more out of us that we can afford to carry!
Contrary to popular contemporary persuasion, Abraham Lincoln, was a Godly man…a praying man. A man who agonized over the “War Between the States.” A President who spent countless hours crying out to God for a quick end to the bitter bloodshed taking place on the consecrated ground of America. He could have taken the easy way out, the political means to ending the war, a method by which he would have greatly a pieced his fellow Republicans’ however, Honest Abe decided to bear up under the load of his nations’ burden. To find as peaceful a solution to ending the fight as could be accomplished within his power. He prayed for his enemies in the South, as well as his friends in the North. Nonetheless, at the end of the war, his willingness to carry the impotent brothers in Gray back to a unity with the North, rather than to leave them in a paralyzed state of dejection, nearly cost him his office. When he refused imprisonment or harsh recompense for those that had rebelled against the Union, many of his constituents’ called for his resignation, others talked of impeachment. Nonetheless, Old Abe would not give in to the Iron will of the politicians around him…he would not ignore even the least among the war torn rabble. No, not ole Abe…instead his plans included the rebuilding of the South and amnesty to everyone who would lay down their guns, and promise never to fight against the Union again. This he felt was his “Christian duty”, for as God had forgiven our transgressions, so we should forgive each others.
There is not always an easy way to bear the bed of burden for another, sometimes it comes with great expense. But I am deeply moved by the compassion that 4 individuals show during the course of this particular church service, regarding this man with the palsy! An attitude that for the most part, is missing in today’s “me and myself” mentality church world. And I guess the questions that initially come to mind concerning the way that we as modern believers operate is this…are we willing to run the risk of being different from the religious crowd that ultimately argues that you can’t do that…you can’t break traditional religious mindsets about who is acceptable in the church?
You see, this present church world has become more prejudice toward who is truly acceptable in Christianity than ever before. Not saying we won’t accept a variety of races and social backgrounds into our midst in the course of a church service…God knows that we should, however, many churches have become so liberal in their concept of Christianity that anything and every kind of lifestyle goes. However, the real prejudice is played out when it comes to concerning ourselves with the special needs of real hurting people on a private level. As long as it’s on a corporate level everything is fine. When it comes to being their friend, spending time with them to comfort and council or pray with them…that’s where we show our true colors! Many of today’s Christian are a self-centered lot, who wants to be left alone with their recreation, jobs, dreams and goals and even their quirky believe systems that allow them to live like the devil every other day of the week and yet worship on Sundays like faithful saints. They don’t have time for anyone or anything that doesn’t benefit them and compassion for others isn’t anywhere on their agenda.
The man stricken with the Palsy was most likely not accepted by the crowd of religious followers inside the home where Jesus was ministering (particularly on a personal level), and neither was his load bearing companions. Not to mention that it was already way too crowed inside and his special needs would not in any way afford them some form of personal gain anyhow. Nonetheless, in their willingness to put forth the effort to haul this man to the rooftop, four men cast off all concern for the general consensus and bore the pain.
Yes, caring for someone else’s wellbeing is often painful to the caretaker. You must be willing to suffer with them to a great degree and this is why we love a church where we don’t know anyone or their personal problems…otherwise, we might find ourselves involved in their lives and forced to bear some of the load! It’s always much easier to be comfortable in the house than hurting on the outside while pulling someone up to its roof on a stretcher. In addition, we might find a nice seat within, versus having to tear the roof off the house in order to find an entrance not already blocked by the religious crowd that simply wants to identify with Jesus but not really have to know Him or his followers.
Yet Jesus stops everything He is doing and saying in order to identify with the man who has this disease, because He’s more interested in the outcasts and the rejects of society than those who believe themselves to be saints! Suddenly, Jesus sees an opportunity for someone who wants salvation and not just a healing and He seizes the moment.
The reality of it is, our willingness to assist someone in their present need today, might just bring them to salvation tomorrow or inable them to remain Christians. After all, the scriptures teach us that signs and wonders are for unbelievers…although I must admit that there is no doubt as many of those in the church today, as those needing to be lowered in through the roof. Yet Jesus is out for souls and not just someone’s healing or prosperity… He has eternity on His mind.
Nonetheless, those 4 men carrying this man believed in their hearts that Christ could change his crippled condition and it was their personal undertaking that positioned him for change. Someone needs a change today, someone who lacks the strength to get to God for themselves and someone must reach out to their condition and offer a burden bearing hand. Someone willing to pray, someone willing to encourage, someone willing to stand with them in faith believing that God will not disappoint them!
Give Jesus the opportunity both to heal and save someone hurting spiritually, physically…someone emotionally impotent today. If you somehow find yourself interested in the cripple of society, you can pick your gurney up while down on your knees and help bear the burdern!
Dr. Larry Hinson ThD. DD.