The Kind of Friend Who Would Push You Through a Roof
“And behold, men were bringing on a bed a man who was paralyzed, and they sought to bring him in and lay him before Jesus; but finding no way to bring him in, because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down with his bed through the tiles into the midst before Jesus.” Luke 5:18-19
Can you imagine this scene? A group of men carrying their paralyzed friend on a bed, submitting themselves to urgency and desperation, ignoring any sense of patience and social norms, and deciding that they would push their friend through a roof rather than risking the chance of missing Jesus. In this moment, these men prioritized their friend above anything else. They simply needed him to be healed and they believed that it would happen.
What if this paralyzed man didn’t have these friends advocating for him? Would he have gotten the chance to be in Jesus’ presence? Would he have experienced the spiritual and physical healing that he did?
These are the kind of friends, I would imagine, any person would like to have. How much more does a person with a disability need to have these kinds of friends?
The men recorded to be helping the paralytic in Luke chapter 5 are the best kind of model for Christian community pursuing love and compassion towards the disabled. The phrase, “disability-inclusion” doesn’t quite cut it for these fierce loving men. Their behaviors worth noting as we think through how we do community in the church:
The extent of their willingness to care -
The action of carrying a bed with a man on it to the top of a roof only to push him in, in any case or culture, is not a typical scene. This unusual sight can be reminiscent of the father sprinting towards his runaway son in the parable of the Prodigal’s Son recorded in Luke 15:11-32. In verse 20 we see that “.. while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.” “In Middle Eastern culture, running was considered shameful. For an honorable man to pull up his robes and run down the road would be similar in our day to a dad running down Main Street in his boxers one morning while the townspeople are out on their porches drinking coffee and watching the spectacle. A man of stature never pranced around in public!” (TGC) In reflecting upon this bed-on-a-roof situation, there should be no doubt that these guys cared more about their friend than they did of their honorability.
Their urgency in seeking the welfare of their friend -
The paralytic’s friends acted with obvious urgency to help him. Pharisees and teachers of the law from Galilee, Judea, and Jerusalem crowded Jesus as He taught. The men did not wait behind the crowds possibly losing out on the opportunity to get to Jesus. They boldly interrupted for the sake of their friend. Imagine all of the jaws dropped in your congregation if this happened at your church on a Sunday during your pastor’s sermon!
Their faith -
Jesus had healed many and a variety of illnesses in the surrounding area up to this point. It is not clear whether the paralytic’s friends knew that he would be forgiven of his sins, but they had great faith that there would be some kind of healing. Though our (or their) understanding of Jesus’ power may not be complete, faith in Christ’s presence can drive us to an amazing outcome.
It isn’t until the end of the story of the paralytic’s healing do we see that spiritual healing, or the forgiveness of sins, was the primary concern and purpose of Jesus.
“I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent. (Luke 4:43)”
Their presence -
Are we present enough to seek and identify opportunities to bring our friends to Jesus? If these men were not already present in their friend’s life in some way they might not have acted with such boldness and urgency as they did.
Who are the paralytics in your life? If we can look to this model of advocacy and fierce love in this story, our Christian communities and friendships would be jaw dropping to the world.