“I would prefer to stay indoors today,” I say calmly. “Sunlight might not be good for my bones.”
“Nonsense!” my friend objects, standing in the doorway of my bedroom. From my position I can see there are others behind my friend.
“Who is out there?” I inquire.
My friend turns around as if to see who I’m referring to. “I’ve brought some more of your friends.”
At this, my friend steps aside and three of my former coworkers walk into the room. I say former because I am no longer able to work in account to my sickness.
“We are here to take you to see Jesus,” my friend insists. “Whether you like it or not.”
I laugh. “Oh no you’re not! You know exactly why I can’t go to Jesus for healing. I’ve sinned and I deserved to have that millstone paralyze me. It was an act of God because of my sins and there’s absolutely nothing Jesus can do to fix it.”
“What exactly are the sins you’ve committed again?” my friend wants to know.
I look at him with as much annoyance as my eyes can convey. It is always embarrassing to tell your sins before a group of people. Especially when that group of people is your former coworkers! How can I tell them the deep things in my past?
“Well, spit it out,” one of the coworkers encourage. “We took the day off from work for this and it wasn’t to enjoy the interior of your bedroom.”
The thought suddenly comes to my head: If I tell them the awful sins of my past they will agree that I shouldn’t go to Jesus. I look up at the ceiling, trying to think of where to begin.
“When I was a boy I thought the laws of God were worthless. I broke the Sabbath multiple times, I stole from a money changer once, I’ve eaten pork twice, and on several occasions I’ve taken the name of the Lord in vain.”
“But you’ve changed! As long as I’ve known you, you’ve been a devout religious man.”
“It has all been a show!” I cry. “My sins caught up to me and the day I was paralyzed by the millstone was God’s judgement for those sins.”
My friend and three former coworkers stare at me for a few moments. I see deep remorse and pity. It occurs to me this may be the last time I ever see them after knowing the truth about me.
“You are pathetic,” my friend finally says, breaking the silence.
Without warning they all surround my bed getting ready to transfer me to my stretcher.
“Stop! I’m begging you!” I bequest. “I’m sure I look pathetic, stretched out on my bed, barely able to move my head, but I’m going to put up a fight!”
Ten minutes later I am on my way to see Jesus. My four companions are carrying me on my stretcher through the busy streets of Capernaum. All the way I protest with my arguments and objections. Nevertheless, I am glad to see the sun again and smell the Sea of Galilee in the breeze.
After carrying me for what seems like a long time, my carriers come to a halt. I try to raise my head to see why they have stopped but my view is blocked. I can sense we’re near the edge of a big crowd by the noise of feet moving all around me.
“Don’t tell me he’s not here!” I say in a tone of unbelief. “You’ve got to be kidding me! You dragged me all the way out here and forgot to check and make sure he’s still here?!”
“Would you calm down?” my friend replies. “He is still here.”
“Then why are we sitting here?”
“Well, we can’t seem to get any closer to him. He’s inside the house up ahead but the crowd is back up all the way out to here. This could take forever to get inside.”
“Oh, well, take your time,” I say sarcastically. “I’m just lying here.”
We remain motionless, my friends hoping for an opportunity to get closer. I strain hard to listen for Jesus’ voice. But between the crying baby to my right and an old man breathing like he’s about to die on my left, I only manage to hear murmurs of what I take to be Jesus’ voice.
“How about going through the roof?” Matthias, one of my former coworkers, suddenly suggests.
I admit he isn’t always the brightest when it comes to ideas and this is no exception. Not wanting to hurt his feelings I keep my lips closed but I slightly roll my eyes.
“Now we’re talking!” my friend exclaims. “Let’s head around toward the back of the house where the crowd is less congested.”
I can’t believe my ears. Through the roof? Are my buddies nuts?
“Hey,” I start to say, “Why don’t we just plow through the side of the wall if the roof doesn’t work?”
My friends do not pay attention to my comment just as they ignored my whole conversation on the way here.
“Am I the only one whose brain is still working?” I call out. “Perhaps we should consider how much it’s going to cost to pay back the homeowner for the damages we’re about to ensue. Or maybe we should consider the possibility of you dropping me while transporting me up this roof and down this roof. Well, Jesus, do you heal dead paralytics too?”
Despite every reasonable statement that proceeds from my lips, I am getting nowhere with these four men. How on earth do they actually plan on pulling this off?
“Whoa!” I cry as my stretcher is suddenly turned almost vertical. “What are you doing?!!”
I can now see two of my friends have begun to scale the house with me behind them. The other two are merely keeping my stretcher from flipping out.
“What are you doing?” someone from the crowd calls out.
“We trying a new therapy for paralytics,” I explain, “It’s called fling-him-out-of-the-stretcher-and-hope-he-walks.”
After minutes of hard labor, I am all but shocked when my friends carefully lay me down on top of the roof.
“I must say I’m surprised we made it this far,” I say admiringly. “You have succeeded in getting my on top of this roof and now we just need to tear a hole big enough to fit a stretcher through!”
I strain to watch my four friends work on removing the plaster and tiling from an area in the roof. It almost feels wrong what we are doing but it’s too late to turn back now.
Little by little the roofing is removed and as it does my heart begins to beat faster and faster. I am about to meet Jesus, the most talked of prophet since the days of my fathers. What if he says no? That’s what he’ll probably say because of my sins.
“Guys, I just had a thought,” I interrupt their work.
“What is it? We’re almost done.”
“How are you going to lower me down?”
My friend smiles. “That’s a good question. We’ll finish removing the roofing and then come up with a solution.”
Presently my friends finish removing the roofing and return to my side.
“What if two of us jump inside the house and then you toss him through the hole?” Matthias suggests, being the one who has envisioned this whole fiasco.
“No,” my friend quickly says, shoving that idea clear away. “What we need is some rope or string. We all have belts on right?”
Everyone nods. I always knew having larger-than-normal friends was a good thing.
“Then let’s tie them to the four corners of his stretcher and lower him down that way.”
My comrades quickly take off their belts and fasten them to my stretcher. My heart seems to be in my throat as they move me over the hole in the roof and begin to lower me. I remain calm as I pass below the ceiling and into the room where Jesus is.
I hear gasps and murmurs echo throughout the house and I can only imagine it is at seeing such a spectacle as this. My friends reach as far as they can with their belts but I can tell I’m still cubits from the floor.
“Don’t drop me yet,” I say, with force.
Two men appear at the head and end of my stretcher to help lower me the rest of the way. Seconds later I’m on the floor, lying right at the feet of Jesus. The house is packed with religious scholars, town leaders, business owners, and many other prominent men but my eyes can’t be taken away from Jesus.
The house is now silent. I can feel the suspense as everyone, including myself, waits to see what Jesus will do.
“Son,” he begins, looking me in the eye, “I forgive your sins.”
How did he know? A wave of relief seems to flow out of his words across my whole soul. Every heavy weight and every condemning thought suddenly evaporate. Peace, joy, love, hope, and so much more hit me in a way more powerful than the millstone did the day I was paralyzed.
“Why are you so skeptical?” Jesus suddenly asks, turning to the religious leaders in the house. “Which is simpler: to say to the paraplegic, ‘I forgive your sins,’ or say, ‘Get up, take your stretcher, and start walking’? Well, just so it’s clear that I’m the Son of Man and authorized to do either, or both . . .”
Jesus now turns to me and my heart begins to race. “Get up. Pick up your stretcher and go home.”
I don’t give my mind time to argue with Jesus. Up I jump and to everyone’s dismay I am healed. My legs work, my arms work – everything works!
“Praise God!” I shout over and over.
I pick up my lousy stretcher and dance my way out of the house, shouting and rejoicing. The crowd is not just a little impacted by the sight of me up and healed. Many shout their own praise to God while others clap their hands.
I sing and shout all the way through the crowd, “Jesus has healed me! He forgave me of my sins!”
As the sun light pours down on my new body, I look up and see my friends rejoicing on the roof. Jesus had changed my life and it wouldn’t have been but for my faithful friends.