by Marilynn Chadwick When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven” (Luke 5:20). What does it look like to “always be ready” to bring a friend to Jesus? We all have times in life when we must lean on the help of our friends. It was one of those times for the paralytic in Luke 5. We don't know the man's ailment. We do know he was helpless and unable to get to Jesus by himself. A few friends boldly carried him on a mat to see the Master. Their way was blocked by the crowds. So they climbed on the roof, hauled up their sick buddy, and lowered him through a hole they cut in the roof—right in front of Jesus! Instead of rebuking them, Jesus (perhaps with a slight smile) commended their faith. Right then and there, he healed their friend. Let’s reflect on this remarkable scenario a little further: And the power of the Lord was with Jesus to heal the sick. Some men came carrying a paralyzed man on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus. 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. When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven" (Luke 5:17-20). Notice that when Jesus saw the faith of the sick man's friends, he forgave the man's sins and healed his infirmity! What was it about the faith of those few friends that ignited the miracle? Their persistence? Audacity? Willingness to step outside the customary bounds? Or just maybe it was their love for their dear friend. I wonder if they had suffered with him. Prayed for him. Refused to give up on him. They did whatever it took to get him to Jesus. Above all, they believed in the power of Jesus to set their friend free. They were true intercessors. Years ago, I had a friend who wrestled with a cruel and long-standing addiction. Complicated by a history of childhood abuse and a host of serious medical problems, she reached the point of exhaustion and hopelessness. She considered ending her life. But into the picture stepped a few good friends. Together, they did battle. They found a place of recovery for our friend and even provided the means to get there. And how they prayed! This little team of friends demonstrated the power of persistent prayer and love in action. It was as if they "carved a hole in the roof" to place their friend at the feet of Jesus. Isn't this our calling as believers—to be vessels of the same mercy we've received from the Lord? It was Jesus himself who reminded us there is no greater love than to "lay down our life for our friends." I'll leave you with my favorite definition of mercy: Mercy is the willingness to enter the chaos of another person's life. Let’s pray for the Lord to empower us to be ready and willing to become vessels of mercy for our friends—even if it means stepping into some chaos.
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