Four Faithful Friends

Text: Mark 2:1-12

I love the story of the four men who carried a paralytic to Jesus. The crowd was so thick around Jesus that they were “unable to get to Him.” They went up to the roof, dug an opening, and let down the pallet to where Jesus was. Jesus was moved by their faith and healed the paralytic. This account is shared in three of the gospels but none of them mention the relationship between the four men and the paralytic. Were they related or just good friends? When reading this text, I tend to focus on how we should be willing to go to great lengths to get people to Jesus. I recently realized, though, that theirs isn’t the only example we should follow. Equally important is the fact that the paralytic was willing to let others help him.

Consider this account from the paralytic’s viewpoint. He must’ve felt such hope and anticipation when those four men offered to carry him to Jesus for healing. I imagine he also felt a moment of discouragement when he saw the crowd. Apparently no one made way for him to get through. But his friends were determined. What was going through his mind as they started lowering him down through that hole in the roof? Was his heart pounding? Did he think his friends had lost their minds? At the very least, it had to have been an uncomfortable situation, maybe filled with some anxiety.

Sometimes we need to ask for help.

Pride, discomfort, embarrassment, awkwardness…we can allow any number of things keep us from seeking help. But what’s a little discomfort if it will bring us closer to Christ? If I am struggling with something that is overwhelming me, I need to ask for help. If my heart feels disengaged but I can’t quite figure out why, I should find someone who can help me.

Sometimes we need to be humble enough to accept unsolicited help.

We may not even realize we need help. What if there’s something in my life pulling me away from Jesus and I’m not even aware of it? I will need help seeing it. I will need someone to point it out. Faithful friends will gently show me I’ve developed a bad attitude or a complaining spirit. Or they may need to mention some decisions of mine that show I’ve become self-absorbed or worldly. I might not realize that I’ve come dangerously close to compromising my faith or that I’m playing with fire. A good friend will remind me to do a heart check and will ask me if I’ve welcomed sin into my life.

We need others to care enough to be honest with us. There’s a time for building up and encouraging but there’s also a time for loving rebuke (Prov. 28:23). Then we need to be humble enough to accept it, without making excuses or getting defensive or being sensitive. We need to accept it with gratitude.

It took four friends and Jesus to help the paralytic. There’s no shame in letting others in. That’s what the church is for. That’s what family is for. Surround yourself with people who love the Lord and make it easier for you to stay close to Him. The beauty of it is that it can influence others for good, too. Notice what happened when the paralytic allowed people to help him:

“He got up and immediately picked up the pallet and went out in the sight of everyone, so that they were all amazed and were glorifying God, saying, ‘We have never seen anything like this'” (v. 12).

Thankful for good people in our lives! (photo credit: John Moore)

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