I HAD FOUR FRIENDS (Matthew 9:1-8; Mark 2:1-12; Luke 5:17-26).
It is true. I had four friends. If it had not been for their faith in Jesus, I would have died as a paralytic and in sin. Yes, a paralyzed man can sin. He cannot sin physically because his muscular system no longer functions; however, he can mentally store up hatred, retribution, and even vengeance. My mind was very sick and preoccupied with sinful ways to get even with the world. Had I recovered from my infirmity without first curing my mind, I would have inflicted harmful pain on my own friends. Instead of appreciating what they were doing for me, I developed the idea that they may have been the cause of my problem. It seemed to me that they felt obligated for what caused my paralysis. I had completely dismissed from my mind that it was my mistake. I had reached a point in my miserable existence where I no longer was able to believe. Fortunately, my four faithful friends believed that Jesus could cure me, and so they carried me to Him on my stretcher. When we could not get inside the home where Jesus was teaching and healing, my friends took me up on the roof, made a hole and let me down right in front of Jesus. There I was stretched out in front of the Man that was turning our town upside down and out.
In addition to astonishment, there was a brief exchange of eyes between Jesus and my friends. It appeared to me, that He was quite pleased with what they had done. The first words He spoke were addressed to me and they were rather explosive. He said, “Child, your sins are forgiven.” Absolute silence fell on those present. Then the leaders began to murmur, “Who was this man who dared to do what God only could?” To them, Jesus had committed blasphemy. While they were torturing their minds over who could do what, I was experiencing a surge of energy flowing through my mind and body. All the evil thoughts I had entertained were vanishing. My mind began concentrating on my muscles and I felt that I was moving my fated limbs. At last, I was freed from my mental torture, and from my sins. I have no words that can explain my feeling of relief from my mind that was burdened with guilt and utter hopelessness. How did Jesus know that my sins were far more oppressing than my physical paralysis? Jesus knew it because He could look into my heart. Just as He saw faith in the eyes of my friends, so He saw the sins in mine eyes. If He had cured me physically first, I might have committed worse sins. But when He first freed my mind, then I could concentrate on my physical needs. My mind was set free to control my body.
At first, I too was puzzled why our religious leaders fussed so much over the forgiveness of my sins? They were not saying much, but I could sense their disagreement. Slowly, it dawned on me that Jesus had attacked their basic reason for their existence. Jesus had laid claim to a service they were getting paid for. People had to bring healthy and clean animals to the priests for the remission of their sins. It was a lucrative business. Now this man from Nazareth, who had settled in Capernaum, had disrupted their fifteen hundred years old religious ritual. Man no longer had to go to an altar where a priest made a sacrifice in the name of God and absolved him from his sins. Jesus of Nazareth could do it instantly and without any conciliatory offering. He had pulled the rug from under their feet. He stripped them of their authority or power over their fellow men. For me, it meant that I was forgiven without finding a suitable sacrifice. And even if I had found one, the priests could not have healed me. According to their system, my sins rendered me incurable. In my condition, I was not allowed to be in the presence of everything that was holy in their eyes. Later, I would learn that Jesus had specifically come to seek out sinners; only, my friends beat Him to it.
Just as Jesus disclosed the secret of my heart, so He did the wrong thinking of the skeptics. He saw right through them and asked them, “Why are you thinking such things? What is easier to say to the paralytic, your sins are forgiven or get up take your bed and walk? But that you might know, the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” Then He said to me, “I order you, get up, take your bed and go home!” If the forgiveness of my sins was explosive, this was out of this world. Never before had any one commanded sickness to leave a human body, as did Jesus on my behalf. I leaped to my feet, grabbed my stretcher and walked out in full sight before everyone. To my own astonishment, words of praise to God for Jesus came out of my mouth. I, who was brought before Jesus, by my friends as a sinner went home forgiven and healed of my paralysis. The people, not the leaders, rejoiced with me and marveled at what God was doing through the powerful authority of Jesus. They began to sing praises to God when I was leaving and I still could hear them in the distance. What a day of rejoicing it turned out for me! And I owed it all to my four friends that believed for me in Jesus.
What my friends did was very brave. I hope you have friends like mine that will take you to Jesus when you are in trouble. He can free you from your burden as He has me from mine. The reason they were brave was that they associated with me when our society regarded the sick and handicapped as evidence that we were being punished for our sins. But my friends had learned that Jesus welcomed such as I. He forgave me when no one else would. He will do the same for you. So, if you no longer can go to Jesus yourself, let someone with faith take you.