17 One day Jesus was teaching, and Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there. They had come from every village of Galilee and from Judea and Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was with Jesus to heal the sick. 18 Some men came carrying a paralyzed man on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus. 19 When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus.
20 When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.”
21 The Pharisees and the teachers of the law began thinking to themselves, “Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?”
22 Jesus knew what they were thinking and asked, “Why are you thinking these things in your hearts? 23 Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? 24 But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the paralyzed man, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.”25 Immediately he stood up in front of them, took what he had been lying on and went home praising God. 26 Everyone was amazed and gave praise to God. They were filled with awe and said, “We have seen remarkable things today.”
Luke 5:17-26 NIV
Longing for Community
Very few people, Christian or non-Christian, would argue that community is not important. It’s why we have Cross-Fit and Fantasy Football and all of social media. Humans are innately drawn to be in fellowship with other people. As it turns out, the answer to this longing and importance of the Christian community is in the Bible.
The Story of the Paralytic
Community is at the heart of the story of the paralytic, who has friends we should all dream of having. Even a cursory glance of these friends shows how loyal they are. In just a few verses, these four men prove to be creative, sacrificial, persistent, bold, and unashamed. These friends have a sense of urgency; they show teamwork; and they are full of faith.
Despite all these characteristics, though, their sheer brazenness stands out the most. Remember, they are late, and the house is full. There is no getting in. So you have to imagine there was some sort of debate between the friends outside the house, and because it’s unlikely that all four guys were alpha males, there was probably some dissension, perhaps even an argument about how or even if they should enter. Who knows how long this conversation lasted, but the bolder plan prevailed and they decided to improvise. Somehow these four men get their paralyzed friend up the house and onto the roof.
Fast forward a few minutes, and the attention turns to the unmentioned visitors who are cramming the house, some of whom are Pharisees. It’s clear that wherever Jesus went he drew a crowd, and obviously since the friends entered through the roof, it was literally a packed house. Imagine what those folks were doing watching this man enter a house through a roof so that he could be healed. Were they watching with their mouths open? Did they attempt to lend a hand?
A Community of Messy Believers
The reality is that statistically speaking in American churches, the vast majority of our body is watching the healing and watching the helping. There are two sides to this: Either you speak the Christian language well and have made yourself “too busy” for Christian community or you simply prefer the fringe where things aren’t as messy. Whatever side you fall on, or maybe you are somewhere in the middle, my encouragement is to be willing to step out in faith and enter into a gathering of other messy believers and realize the importance of a Christian community.
For a long time in my life, I was content with giving help but not asking for it. I was comfortable being the friend but not paralytic. But I’m done with that. I’m done with pretending I’m all good because I am not. I am a needy mess, and I need Jesus each and every day.
Jesus Saw Their Faith
Speaking of Jesus, look what that text says in verse 19 about where the friends place the paralytic: “right in front of Jesus.” I’m encouraged by this on two fronts.
- One, community and friendship give us the bravery to enter the packed house. Community gives us the courage to bring our friends right in front of Jesus.
- Two, what an amazing teacher. Jesus is mid-sermon, and all of a sudden there is a human being placed at his feet. He stops, just imagine the way the Savior of the universe pauses, and he turns his full attention to this man, offers compassion, and says, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.”
Don’t miss what it says right before that, though, because it’s key: “When Jesus saw their faith, . . .” The only condition Jesus has when He grants forgiveness to the paralyzed man is faith, but it’s a collective faith, not an individual one. What a powerful reminder of the importance of a Christian community.
The body of Christ is family for eternity from day one, no questions asked. It’s an iron-clad covenant. We are a chosen people, a royal priesthood. Jesus is ready for you, and he has prepared a home for you.
Be encouraged by the story of the paralytic and his friends. Bring your sins to Jesus’ feet. And when you come, believer or not, Jesus won’t remind you of your last mistake or your web browser history or your anger; instead, he will say, “‘Friend, your sins are forgiven…Get up, take your mat and go home.”