A trickle of dust from a crack, that’s what Jesus and the visitors saw first. Lumps of dried mud followed. Sticks and straw accompanied clouds of choking dust and the noise of levering, digging, crumbling and breaking. Then the roof began to cave in. People shielded their heads; women tried to brush the dirt off their clothes. Three Gospel writers tell us that Jesus saw faith in a group of men, but the first sign of bold faith was ceiling debris.
Here’s how Mark tells the story:
When [Jesus] had come back to Capernaum several days afterward, it was heard that He was at home. And many were gathered together, so that there was no longer room, not even near the door; and He was speaking the word to them. And they came, bringing to Him a paralytic, carried by four men. Being unable to get to Him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above Him; and when they had dug an opening, they let down the pallet on which the paralytic was lying. And Jesus seeing their faith said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” (Mark 2:1-5)
Now I’m not suggesting that Jesus was unable to sense faith in human hearts; there is evidence that He could. However, faith is rarely latent. It finds expression somehow, even if it has to by-pass a crowd and dig through a roof. That day in Capernaum, four men found several obstacles in the way of health for a paralytic comrade and their bold faith prevailed.
- Obviously, the paralytic could not walk. If anything were to change then his friends would have to find or make a stretcher and carry him to Jesus. Their faith made a personal sacrifice on behalf of a friend.
- They found Jesus easily; He was often surrounded by a throng. Other streets nearby were almost deserted. Apart from the physical barrier the people presented, there was the question of manners. No one should interrupt the prophet’s sermon or distract the crowd from the message. Fingers would wag and tongues tut-tut.
- On the housetop, perhaps the four friends debated whether they would get into serious trouble for demolishing a significant section of someone’s roof. Whose home was it anyway? Would the owner start a legal action? The men had already noticed scribes among the audience. Where would the trouble end?
The bold faith of four men paid little or no attention to the obstacles. It plowed past or through them. Doubt wonders about the consequences of being disappointed; faith rightly assumes that, upon reaching its objective, the blessings will far outweigh any fallout along the way. Imagine their joy at seeing the paralytic stand, gather up the stretcher, and walk through the parting crowd.
When we are convinced that God has called us to a step of faith, and we have checked it against Scripture and the counsel of godly people confirms it, then it is time to exercise bold faith. What might that involve for you?
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