Message: “Roofless Faith” – Mike Zizolfo
Sunday, April 7th, 2019
One day, Jesus is teaching in a home in Capernaum, likely that of Peter and Andrew. It’s standing room only as the multitude presses in to hear what Jesus has to say. People came from as far away as Jerusalem and Judea to listen to this man who claimed to be the Messiah, but on this occasion, the dense crowd presents a problem for a paralyzed man and four of his friends. They no doubt tried to make a way but to no avail. Under the circumstances, it would have been easy to give up and perhaps try to get their friend to Jesus another day. But, they are determined.
Knowing this may be his only chance, they think outside the box and make their way to the roof. Houses in this time were built with flat roofs, made of a thick layer of clay, supported by mats of branches across wooden beams, and generally accessible by an outside staircase. Families often slept on the roof during the heat of the summer or used it to dry fruit, flax, or grain. This is no simple thatch – it’s clay, the same that would have been used as mortar, baked rock hard in the sun.
Mark tells us the four friends are so determined to get their friend to Jesus, that they break through the clay making an opening large enough to lower their friend through on his mat. Can we stop for a moment to grasp what just happened? These men tore through sunbaked clay while Jesus preached and healed only a few feet below them, debris likely falling around him. What if the mat ripped and the friend fell to his death? What if the roof collapsed and they all fell through? What if the homeowners were - justifiably - angry with them for destroying the roof? Think about the crowd below, watching as the hole in the roof grew larger, when suddenly a man is lowered through to the floor.
The four friends’ faith led them to action. Motivated by love, they worked the problem, came up with an unconventional, somewhat desperate solution, all to help someone unable to help themselves. Jesus sees their faith – and the faith of the man who trusted them to lower him safely – and tells the man, “Your sins are forgiven.”
Note Jesus forgives his sin before he heals his body. He is making two things clear here – first, the man’s sin was no match for Jesus forgiveness and would not stand in the way of his healing. Just like today, people in Jesus’ time often blamed the sick and injured for their condition, assuming it was the result of sin. Secondly, Jesus was making it clear to the Pharisees and religious leaders He had the authority to forgive sin.
The story concludes with “He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all.” I think it’s noteworthy that he takes his mat, the means his friends used to bring him to Jesus, with him. By faith, he has been freed from that which paralyzed him, and what he was carried in on, he now walks out with. Ever after, he would be able to point to that mat and tell the story of what Jesus had done for him.
None of this would have happened without friends that found a way to get him to Jesus. They were so confident of Jesus’ ability to heal their friend that they would stop at nothing to see Him.
This is our mission as believers today. All around us, our family, our friends, our neighbors, are paralyzed by their sin. It’s up to us to think outside the box and figure out creative ways to introduce them to the Savior.
REFLECTION: JESUS WANTS YOU IN THE HOUSE
In this story, do you identify more with the paralytic, his friends, or the teachers? Why?
Discuss: It’s easy for a church to become so inwardly focused that it creates a limited access environment.
Why is meeting the physical needs of the hurting and helpless so important for the Christ-follower?
How do the obstacles confronting the friends compare and contrast with obstacles that hinder us as believers from bringing others to Jesus?
Anytime someone experiences a divine encounter from God, it was preceded by an excessive amount of faith and prayer. Identify a time in your life when you experienced this.
Discuss: When you receive a revelation of WHO God is, it will revolutionize the WAY that you live.
This week, identify someone in your life that is desperately in need of an encounter with Jesus. Invest in them, and tell them what He’s done for you. Invite them for coffee, for a barbecue, for a round of golf. Jesus has uniquely placed you where you need to be to invest, introduce, and invite those without Christ to follow Him.