Getting into a boat, Jesus crossed over the sea and came to His own city. And they brought to Him a paralytic lying on a bed. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralytic, “Take courage, son; your sins are forgiven.” And some of the scribes said to themselves, “This fellow blasphemes.” And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, “Why are you thinking evil in your hearts? Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, and walk’? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—then He said to the paralytic, “Get up, pick up your bed and go home.” And he got up and went home. But when the crowds saw this, they were awestruck, and glorified God, who had given such authority to men. Matthew 9:1-8 (NASB)
Disability is an issue close to my heart, in all its forms it transforms people’s lives. I have experienced it and seen it in others, some of whom are close to me. Living through disability is not brave, it is just living. I am inspired by those who rise above their circumstances and shine as beacons of hope in our dark world. It is with such thoughts that I read scriptures referring to disability, and feel I understand aspects that are often overlooked by many.
The man in our story today is the same man also referred to in Mark 2. He is referred to as a paralytic which in modern language would be called paraplegic, meaning he was paralysed (had no movement) from his chest down to his feet. The life of this man was a mere existence, dependent on his family and friends for every function in his life. Knowing this the love of this man’s friends in carrying him across town to Christ is breathtaking. And in reference to Mark, when entry to the house was impossible by the door these determined friends came through the roof. Let me set the scene for you.
The house was a single story square construction. On entering the door in front, the first room is a small square, called the “porch.” In this room the master of the family commonly transacts business, and receives visits. Passing through the porch, you enter a large square room in the center of the building, called the courtyard. This “courtyard” is paved commonly with marble. This room is surrounded by a covered balcony on every side. From that covered balcony doors open into the other apartments of the house. This center room is commonly uncovered or open above. In wet weather, and in times of great heat, it is covered with an awning or canvas, stretched on cords and capable of being easily removed or rolled up. From the balcony there are stairs to the flat roof on all sides (reference, Albert Barnes Commentary).
In this account Jesus was in the courtyard of the house surrounded by many people, right out to the front door. As He was speaking suddenly sunlight shone upon everyone as the covering canvas was rolled back and men appeared from above carrying their disabled friend, that is one way to stop a sermon! There were some indignant mutterings at this intrusion, but the Messiah looked on smiling in admiration. In this moment the disabled man must have been anxious but gratified at his friends persistence. Certainly Jesus admired their act of faith, expecting their dear friend to be healed. He had no qualms about rewarding their faith despite the criticism of scribes who were there. One can imagine the shock of those who had seen the men carrying their friend in when he passed them carrying his bed, it is no wonder that folk were shouting praises to God. In my mind I wonder what happened to that man and his friends in his new life. I would like to think that he went on to follow the Messiah who gave him new life.
Dear reader, how persistent is your faith before God your Father? Do you have the faith of these friends in this story? If so then you will also experience the jubilation of the healed man, as your faith is rewarded by God your Father.