We’ll Give You A Lift.

Some men came, bringing to him a paralytic, carried by four of them. Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus and, after digging through it, lowered the mat the paralyzed man was lying on. — Mark 2: 3-4

My mother befriended an elderly woman years ago, who’d recently lost her husband. She’d drive her to doctor appointments, to the store for groceries, other places. She actually took over the responsibility from me as I had been asked by our pastor to care for this woman and others who were in the advancing years.

You couldn’t tell if this woman was grateful for the miles spent for her. I would talk with my mother over the phone, and her feelings would be hurt again. She’d tell me the sharp things the woman would say to her. My mother had been giving her a lift, and in return she put her down. Nevertheless, my mother kept going back.

My mother wasn’t doing it for praise, obviously. And there wasn’t any money involved. Or social acknowledgement. She was in reality a lifeline for this woman. I can’t imagine others sacrificing their time (not to mention their self-esteem) for this old bitty. But, I couldn’t convince my mother to stop doing it. She’s adopted the woman, and taken her on as a friend. She saw the importance of her role in bringing this woman before Jesus.

It was literally a strain on my mother at times to lift her up. But her honest care for the woman and her desire to see her heart filled with joy outweighed the strain.

There is a story in the Gospel of Mark where four men give their friend a lift. We don’t know how this man came to be paralyzed. Could have fallen at work. Could have been a degenerative disorder that ate away at his once healthy frame. Could have been born this way. This might have just happened, or maybe it happened some time ago. We do know that he couldn’t have brought himself.

I tend to think that they were family, these men who carried him through Capernaum to Jesus. Brothers or sons, they had decided with or without him that if Jesus were for real they would put him before the healer. Maybe too it was spur of the moment. It would have been just as well. They worked together on his behalf, for his ultimate good. My father is not going to suffer this way anymore. I’m not going to let my son, with all these years ahead of him, waste away on a bed. Let’s take him to Jesus. See what he can do.

They made a stretcher for the man to lie on that they could carry. Just be careful not to drop him. Let’s stop and rest if we need to. He’s going to get heavy.

When they approached the house they saw there was a crowd. As with any celebrity appearance, a mob frenzy occurs. People staking out their place in proximity to Jesus and refusing to move. The inside of the house had already filled. Windows, manned. Doors, manned. You can almost see people holding an ear to the exterior wall to hear something. Primitive survival impulses surface. These men are not able to get to the house where they might take him in.

One of the men sees the stair well leading up to the roof and suggests they do something drastic. Seconds later, the men are staring down at Jesus through an open hole they have created in the ceiling. They’d defaced the house to get to him. Then, before anyone could shout them down, they started lowering him into the house right before Jesus.

What was Jesus doing while this was going on? Maybe smiling. I created this spirit in these men. Thank you, Father, for showing a glimpse of you in these men. Smiling despite someone might be sleeping roofless that night. Despite the chaos it caused. Despite Peter’s cursing, if this was his house. Maybe welling up with tears. I don’t think he was surprised. What if while he was talking inside the house he saw these men plan this delivery and execute it? He didn’t ask the people to make a way for the stretcher to fit through the door. He didn’t come out of the house outside the crowd to where these men stood with their friend. Omnipotent, he waited until the roof cracked open and the man was lowered.

Was the paralytic grateful for these men and what they sacrificed to bring him before Jesus? We’ll never know until we interview Jesus. But, I think it’s funny that rather than immediately saying, “You’re healed,” Jesus says, “You’re forgiven”. It is probably the case that Jesus went to the heart of the man’s condition by addressing the sin. Sin leads to illness. He could have made a series of sinful choices that lead to an accident, which in turn lead to his paralyzed state. But what if Jesus was addressing his ungratefulness for those who’d brought him to be healed? It’s just a thought. Maybe Jesus was reminding the man that yes, he had been in a bad physical state for perhaps a long time, but also he had been very blessed to have such a group of determined friends. Willing to destroy someone else’s roof to make a way for him. They took a good deal of risks in carrying him.

Lord, help me to be grateful for those who give me a lift.


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