With Friends Like These…
My mother taught me many, many things about life and human nature through actual situations that occurred. She frequently used to wax philosophical about some observance or interaction she would see among people. I remember as a child hearing her say something perhaps your mother quoted to you. “With friends like that, you don’t need any enemies.” This was meant to describe some characteristics in a person who was called a “friend” but whose actions better suited an “enemy” instead. A classic example from the Bible would have been the “friends” Job had. Have you ever had friends like that? Here’s the clincher….have you ever been a friend like that?
Let’s first take a look at Mark 2:1-5 and see what real friends look like. This passage states, “And again He entered Capernaum after some days, and it was heard that He was in the house. Immediately[a] many gathered together so that there was no longer room to receive them, not even near the door. And He preached the word to them. Then they came to Him, bringing a paralytic who was carried by four men. And when they could not come near Him because of the crowd, they uncovered the roof where He was. So when they had broken through, they let down the bed on which the paralytic was lying. When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”
There are 4 things that stand out from the passage. First, we see the compassion of the friends. Notice that their first thought was not of themselves. When these men heard that Jesus was near they immediately saw an opportunity for their paralytic friend to be healed. How often do we think of others? Does our thought life consistently dwell on how, when, and where Christ can help us with our own needs? Not so in this example. These 4 men clearly show that they considered someone, other than themselves, to be the perfect candidate to experience Christ’s awesome power. May we possess the same, selfless heart.
Second, this passage tells us there were 4 friends. In this world of hero worship, there is a tendency to want to take the limelight. We sometimes want to be only the one so we can get all the praise for solving the problem or being the one to make a clutch decision in the heat of the moment. Some like to be the only ones because they like to appear the martyr and gain attention that way. These men would have nothing to do with those ways of thinking. They knew that they needed each other to make this opportunity a reality for their paralytic companion. How about us? Are you a team player? Does it always have to be your way? Do we ever position ourselves so that, in the end, we appear the reluctant hero? May it never be. Instead, we ought to consider others in our plans. The Bible is clear about 1 putting one thousand to flight, while 2 can put ten thousand to flight. Don’t go on the journey alone. Be part of a team. We will be amazed at the results.
Third note the persistence and commitment of the paralytic’s friends. They were determined to help their friend. Not only did they carry him some distance, but imagine what they saw when they arrived at the house where Jesus was! Our passage paints a picture of a large crowd gathered and blocking the door. How easy would it have been to look at each other and the paralytic and give up? Perhaps they could have soothed the wounds of their failure by reassuring themselves with, “….well, we at least tried.” For these men trying was not enough. No! Nothing short of total success would do. They were on a mission to get their friend to Jesus and they were going to stick to the plan. How easily do we give up? You may have prayed for years for that prodigal son or daughter and yet no noticeable change in their heart. Perhaps tough economic times have hit you and you’re just about to give up. What is it that you have been trying for so long to accomplish and are just about to throw in the towel? Do NOT give up! Until or unless Jesus has revealed to you to let go of this thing or that issue, do not stop pursuing it. This is especially true for spiritual matters.
Lastly, take a look at verse 5 again. Whose faith did Jesus see? He saw the faith of his friends. What a spiritual covering and blessing you can be to your home, your job, and your friends! Be that pillar of faith who stands in the gap and intercedes for others. Be that beacon of faith that shines brightly on their behalf. When our friends, family, and loved ones have run out of faith, step in and let your faith become their blessing!
Written by Dr. Jerry Eshleman
RCS Superintendent & CEO