The Paralytic’s Friends – Whatever it Takes

“When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven.’” (Mark 2:5)

If you’ve ever had a really close friend who was sick or injured, you know how hard it is to see them suffer.  Most of us would be willing to do almost anything for the sake of helping someone we love.  Imagine for a moment that one such person to whom you are very close is suffering from a terminally debilitating condition, and that an individual who could immediately heal them was close at hand.  What would you not dare in order to get this friend into the presence of that healer?

Now imagine that this friend of yours suffers not from a mere physical ailment or disease, but from a spiritual plague that is eating away at their very soul and threatening to cause eternal death.  Their condition worsens daily, and at any moment they could pass the threshold of physical death, where their malady would be beyond anyone’s help.  What would you not dare to get this person you love into the presence of the One who is able to heal him?

It’s strange how our hearts become overwhelmed with pity for the physical suffering of those around us, and yet we all know friends, relatives, or neighbors whose souls are in critical condition.  If any of these people were physically dying, we would be willing to carry them on foot for miles to whatever specialist was available, go to great lengths to attract the personal attention they need, and pay whatever price was demanded for their treatment.  But often, we neglect to get them the necessary spiritual treatment because we are ashamed, embarrassed, or reluctant to cause tension in our relationship with them.

The paralytic’s friends loved him very much.  They knew that only one person could heal him and restore the use of his legs.  And so, they were willing to do whatever it took to get him into Jesus’ presence, trusting in the merciful Lord to heal him.  What they didn’t realize is that Jesus came first and foremost to remove our spiritual disease of sin – a much more serious condition than even paralysis – and that they all needed His medical attention.  He then restored their bed-ridden friend’s physical capacities in order to show everyone present that He had the power and authority to remove even the most aggressive strains of humanity’s sinful disease.

If you have a friend or relative who is suffering from sickness or physical adversity, by all means bring them to the Lord in prayer for strength and healing.  But also realize that sometimes physical ailments are just what the Doctor ordered for our spiritual sickness.  Pray more so that God would use whatever adversity they are facing to bring them closer to Himself.

If you have a loved one whose spiritual health is on life-support, the best thing you can do is to take a lesson from the paralytic’s friends: Do whatever it takes to bring them into Jesus’ presence.  Then, trust in His mercy to heal and restore them.  Your job is not to work the miracle – but you can remove the barriers and bring them face to face with their risen Lord.  Only by Jesus’ grace, power, and authority will they arise and walk once more with Him.

“But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5)

Prayer: Heavenly Father, we bring before you all those who do not know the joy of Your forgiveness.  Bend their hearts that they may turn to You in repentance and faith, receiving redemption and salvation through Jesus Christ, You Son, our Lord.  Amen.

Jonathan – Friend of the Lord’s Anointed

“He loved him as he loved himself.” (1 Samuel 20:17)

Saul’s son Jonathan is one of the most overlooked heroes of the faith in the whole Bible.  If we are to speak of the courage of Gideon and David, Jonathan could also be numbered among them.  After all, he climbed a hill and fought the army of Philistines, trusting in the Lord alone for success.  He single-handedly killed twenty of their warriors, and the Lord used his courageous assault to throw the rest of the army into a panic.  Jonathan understood that God can do great things despite overwhelming odds: “Nothing can hinder the Lord from saving whether by many or by few” (1 Samuel 14:6).

But the thing that rightly sets Jonathan apart from the rest of the faithful men and women in the Bible is his loyalty and friendship toward David, God’s anointed king.  This is no small thing, considering that Jonathan’s father was the current king (with whom he seemed to be on pretty good terms).  He cared enough for David that he was willing to give up his own future rule for the sake of his friend.  His support and friendship of David would eventually lead to his own death at the hands of his enemies, the Philistines (1 Samuel 31:2).

Jonathan’s friendship and love for David is beautifully reflected in our relationship with Jesus.  Like Jonathan, we are friends with God’s Anointed One – Christ, the promised Messiah.  Although we were children of this world, we are called to turn aside from our worldly inheritance and follow Jesus out of love for Him.  For the sake of friendship with us, Jesus, like Jonathan, gave up His throne in heaven and even His very life at the hands of His enemies.  He has redeemed our life from the threat of death by the ruler of this fallen world, just as Jonathan rescued David from the hand of King Saul.  As Jonathan’s truthful words and earnest pleas turned aside the king’s wicked wrath from David, so Jesus’ perfect life and innocent death plead on our behalf and turn aside the righteous judgment of His Father, our Holy God.

Only Jonathan was able to reconcile his father, King Saul, with David.  Through Jesus, we are reconciled eternally with His Father and our gracious King.  His blood has formed a pact of friendship that nothing can ever break.  Jesus loved us enough to give up His life for us, and we in turn are moved by the Spirit to love Him as ourselves: “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19).  Even though we fail time and again to honor the pact of friendship that Jesus has purchased for us, He will remain our friend forever, pleading with the Father on our behalf.  Now we can say with Jonathan, “Nothing can hinder the Lord from saving.”

“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13)

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39)

Prayer: Heavenly Father, I thank and praise You for the reconciliation purchased by the blood of Your Son, Jesus Christ, through His friendship.  Amen.