Try to imagine this . . .
A crowd tightly packed in together as the people tried to listen to Jesus. There was an unusual sense of quietness for the number of people there as well as a palpable energy in the room. All around, ears were straining, trying to capture every word of Christ’s teaching, and in that moment a group of friends tried to push their way into the space. The crowd, though, held formation. No one was getting through. Just by showing up these guys had already created a disturbance. They were loudly panting, exhausted from their trip, because they were carrying a friend. A paralytic friend. If one had ever held a child for more than thirty seconds, he would have somewhat known the exhaustion, yet they were carrying a grown man. There were four of them, but, because they had a paralytic, this was dead weight in their arms. They worked hard just to get to this house; and even though they were sweating and out of breath, they were denied entry.
They put their friend down and got some distance. As they pass around unworkable ideas, one guy turned to the others,
“What are we going to do? We can’t give up!”
Someone in the crowd turned angrily, “SHHHHHH! I’m trying to hear Jesus.”
No one knows how long the men tried to figure a way in before one of them suggested,
“How ‘bout the roof?”
All of the others turned, “What about the roof, Kevin?” (Common Hebrew name in the First Century).
“Well, if we can’t get in through the door maybe we could lower him in from above.”
Concerned looks were traded among the group.
“We told him we would take him to see Jesus,” Kevin said. “I mean, I guess it’s worth a try. We don’t have any better ideas, and we promised him we would take him to Jesus.”
Silent agreement rippled through the group.
They picked up their friend and went over to the side of the house and up the external stairs onto the roof of the house. The roofs on houses in that day were built with big wooden beams, interlaying branches, and covered in a thick layer of mud. All in all, it was one-to-two feet thick. They climbed up and started chipping away at the roof.
The unusual silence down below started to be interrupted by some concerning noises. One would wonder what the homeowner was thinking. The crowd stayed where it was, and Jesus just kept teaching . . . talk about a sermon distraction! Then finally, a tiny ray of sunlight shown through, the first sign of a hole and all of the dust from the process of unroofing the roof came into full view. As the tiny hole grew bigger, people down below were struggling to stay focused on Jesus. Kevin pressed his face into the hole to look down. “We’re in the right place, Guys!”
It was working, and they began to pick up the pace, furiously tearing, pulling, knocking free the mud and branches to expand the hole. Angry Pharisees were continually brushing the roof debris off of their heads. As the hole got bigger, the sun began to pour through, bathing the entire crowded room with the brightness of midday until the recently created skylight suddenly was blocked entirely from view. Something had filled up the space and it was being lowered into the room. The sounds of hard work continued from above as the four men lowered their paralytic friend down into the middle of the room, right at the foot of Jesus. Immediately the unusual silence was back.
What was Jesus going to do?
Jesus’ gracious face looked upon the man on the ground, up to the four friends who waited with great anticipation, and then turning to the paralytic, He spoke a very surprising word, “Your sins are forgiven you.”
There was stunned frustration from the religious leaders, and as Jesus knew their heart He asked, “Is it harder to say your sins are forgiven or to say rise and walk?” Then turning once more to the paralytic, He told him. “Rise, pick up your mat, and go home.” As the paralytic rose to his feet, contortion covered the faces of the religious leaders, dumbfounded looks grew among the crowd, and the race on the roof began as the four friends fought to get down to their friend.
The dusty rays of sunshine were still raining through the hole in the roof as the religious leaders’ influence waned, the previously immovable crowd parted, and the man walked out carrying an unneeded mat, but a much needed cleansed heart. The five friends sprinted home. The dust in the air was now created by the pounding of recently unusable feet repeatedly hitting the ground. Kevin was fist-pumping all the way home.
Hear the whole sermon here.