My mother battled illness for many years…for an approximate 20 year span of her life. She fought through breast cancer…and beat it. She fought through colon cancer…and beat it. And after all this…she was thankfully cancer-free…
But then a time came where she faced another illness…she battled an infection that seemed puzzling to her doctors. She was in the ICU for 3 months…in a coma. The doctors did not have a good prognosis.
I can honestly say that my faith was greatly challenged! I clung to Jesus and His promises. I did believe in the healing power of Jesus…but there were a number of obstacles that tried to get in the way of my faith….a number of obstacles that tried to discourage me.
You may be very familiar with the great faith passage in Mark 2:1-12…the passage where Jesus performs the miracle of healing a paralytic. This passage is full of several life lessons as this miracle is referenced and emphasized by many teachers and preachers of the Word. But I want to focus on the former aspect (verses 1-5) of this passage which highlights a demonstration of great faith.
1 A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. 2They gathered in such large numbers that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them. 3Some men came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. 4Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on. 5When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”
6Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, 7“Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?”
8Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, “Why are you thinking these things? 9Which is easier: to say to this paralyzed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’? 10But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the man, 11“I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” 12He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!”
Ok…so let’s examine the faith demonstrated by these 4 men.
First of all…back up for just a minute. There had to have been some level of faith…maybe even just a little faith…maybe even just a small seed of faith. Regardless of how much or how little…there was faith! Faith implanted in the hearts of each of these men…faith that Jesus had the power to heal!
Because really…if there wasn’t even an itsy bitsy ounce of faith…then why would they even think about venturing out with their paralytic friend? Why would these 4 men subject themselves to the physical strain of carrying another human…Lord knows how many miles…to Jesus?
Is there a situation you are facing which requires you to have faith in the power of Jesus to move in your life or in the life of another person?
Like the paralytic…you too may need the power of Jesus to heal…or maybe the power of Jesus to provide…or maybe the power of Jesus to restore…or maybe the power of Jesus to forgive…or maybe the power of Jesus to strengthen…or maybe the power of Jesus to set you free.
Regardless of the size…faith in the power and ability of our Lord Jesus Christ is just the beginning!
As these 4 men…carrying the paralytic…approached the home where Jesus was preaching…it became quite clear that “a large crowd gathered” (ISV) … it was “so packed with visitors” (NLT) … “they gathered in such large numbers that there was no room left, not even outside the door.”(NIV)
Can you imagine what these 4 men must have thought and felt when they saw that there was no room left, not even outside the door?
What would you have thought or felt?
What do you think or feel when you see an obstacle in the way of your faith? Do you become discouraged…lose hope…and give up? Or are you determined to push through in your faith?
Well, these 4 men could have easily been discouraged…lost hope…and given up. They could have said… “There is no way! It’s too crowded! Let’s just go back home.” BUT…
Check out what they did!
These 4 men…carrying their paralytic friend…climbed up to the roof and began to strip it away so they could lower their friend to Jesus! Seriously? That sounds crazy doesn’t it?
Let’s stop here for just a moment…
In Mark’s account (Mark 2:1-12), the suggestion is that the roof was typical of those in Palestine at the time. Palestinian houses had flat roofs. The roofs were used for many purposes…for storing things… drying flax (story of the spies in Joshua)…and as places for quiet and prayer (these little one room houses otherwise had nowhere else that one could be alone). And for that reason there was always an outside stairway up to the roof.
Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on.
Now Luke’s account (Luke 5:17-26) seems to describe a Greek or Roman house…with a roof constructed of tiles.
So they went up to the roof and took off some tiles. Then they lowered the sick man on his mat down into the crowd, right in front of Jesus. NLT
I mean we can pretty much figure that these 4 men hadn’t planned to carry any tools with them (like carrying another person wasn’t enough) especially to deconstruct a roof by removing tiles and creating an opening large enough to pass their friend through the roof.
Clearly this was no easy task! Right?
These 4 men could have certainly said, “Carrying our friend is too heavy…climbing up these stairs is too much…deconstructing this roof is too hard!”
But I don’t believe they did…and their actions proved much louder than words.
Again, this demonstrates their determination…These 4 men were determined to bring their paralytic friend to Jesus to be healed…no matter what!
Despite how crowded it was…despite how physically tired they probably were…despite how long it took…and despite how much trouble and how inconvenient it was to get their friend in front of Jesus!
They pushed through in their faith!
How determined are you in your faith when faced with obstacles…roadblocks…challenges that may push your physical limits…your mental limits…your emotional limits…your time limits…all your limits pretty much?
No one said faith would be easy. It certainly wasn’t easy for these 4 men!
Faith makes things possible, not easy. ~Author Unknown
And so here is the key…Jesus saw the faith of these 4 men.
When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” Mark 2:5 NIV
Yes…Jesus healed the paralytic physically but even more importantly he healed him spiritually.
The faith of these 4 men moved Jesus and made this miraculous healing possible!
Our faith moves Jesus…it moves Him to heal us…provide for us…restore us…forgive us…strengthen us…and set us free!
And just like these 4 men’s faith…
Our faith moves Jesus to heal…provide…restore…forgive…strengthen…and set others free as well!
As my mother laid motionless in the hospital bed…a number of obstacles certainly tried to get in the way of my faith…but…
I stood firm in my faith! … I stood firm in the healing power of Jesus and witnessed a true miracle when my mother woke up one day from the coma and lived a number of years longer…long enough to see me get married and see her grandson born.
And believe me… having faith was far from easy…but having faith moved Jesus to make my mother’s healing possible…as well as the paralytic man’s healing possible…
And it will move Jesus to make things possible in your life and the life of others as well!
- Is there a situation you are currently facing which requires you to have faith in the power of Jesus to move in your life or in the life of another person?
- What do you think or feel when you see an obstacle in the way of your faith? Do you become discouraged…lose hope…and give up? Or are you determined to push through in your faith?
- How determined are you in your faith when faced with obstacles…roadblocks…challenges that may push your physical limits…your mental limits…your emotional limits…your time limits…all your limits pretty much?
- How can you push through in faith when facing these limits?
- Having faith in the power and ability of Jesus is the beginning. Even if your faith is small…Jesus says that if you have faith even as small as a mustard seed…which by the way is one of the smallest of all seeds…that nothing will be impossible for you!(Matthew 17:20)
- The reality is that you will face obstacles that will try to get in the way of your faith. Your faith will be tested. But it is important to keep pushing through in your faith…not becoming discouraged…not losing hope…not giving up! Pushing through like these 4 men of faith…no matter what challenges may push your physical limits…your mental limits…your emotional limits…your time limits…all your limits!
- You can push through in your faith by staying close to Jesus…clinging to Jesus just like I did in my mother’s situation. When we draw near to God…He will draw near to us. (James 4:8)
- Keep spending time with Him…praying and reading His word. Read about other individuals who pushed through in their faith in the Bible. (The Hall of Faith in Hebrews 11:1)