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A Stretcher Bearer to Jesus

December 5, 2019 | John Teevan

The Gospels tell about a man who was crippled. We don’t know when or how he became paralyzed, but this man was confined to living on a mat.
We know that he desperately wanted to meet Jesus. His legs may not have functioned, but he was able to persuade four of his friends to each pick up a corner of his mat and carry him to the home in which Jesus
was teaching.
The book of Mark establishes Jesus as a popular figure who began to experience strong opposition to His mission and teaching.
The Pharisees, a group of about six thousand pious, influential leaders who taught in the synagogues plus some of the available scribes that heard Jesus was in Capernaum and went to hear Jesus teach in a home.
Archaeologists have unearthed homes and found that the largest homes would fit about 50 people in them if they were filled to capacity. There were just one or two rooms where everything took place.
First-century homes had roofs that were made with branches that were packed with mud that dried in the sun. These roofs were robust enough to walk on but could be dug through. Many times, there were outside
staircases leading up to the rooftops.
Let’s picture Jesus, packed into a very simple home that was overflowing with guests. People spilled out around the front door. Mark writes that “there was no longer room to receive them, not even near the door.”
Think house party plus everyone from your neighborhood standing on
your front porch like they were trick-or-treating. It’s that slammed.
Probably breaking an ancient fire code.
Visualize the five guys approaching the house, and they could see from a distance that the event had already started. To make matters worse, it’s so packed they can’t even get to the front door.
Do you have friends that would find a “workaround” to meet your needs? This guy has four!
They climbed up onto the roof –still carrying their friend and dug right through that dried mud roof. The men organized a way to lower the paralyzed man down in the room, in front of Jesus. I can just imagine the gasps in the crowd.
It appears to me that Jesus entertained the intermission to his teaching that day as He saw a need much greater than his paralyzed legs.
Outstanding faith never failed to impress him, and definitely this four man roofing crew had confirmed that!
Yet Jesus’s response stumped the spectators who just saw someone literally, drop in on his teaching.
When Jesus saw their faith –plural, emphasizing the four friends’ role in the healing he said, & quote; “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.”
The man who had spent his life horizontal would have one moment of vertical fame.
Jesus was implicitly acknowledging the paralytic’s trust that He was the Messiah. When you read these accounts, you’ll notice that the religious leaders present accused Jesus of blasphemy.
Is there someone that could use your help to be their stretcher-bearer to get them closer to Jesus? Will you be bold enough to eliminate barriers, remove obstacles and befriend those isolated so that they can meet Jesus?
The Gospel doesn’t segregate; it integrates. And, one day we will all be integrated in the same kingdom, in the same room, at the same table because of the Gospel.

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