One of them will never see Jesus again. One of them will forever hang about on the edge of the crowd. One of them will become a close friend. One of them will be crucified next to him.
Four of them up against the wall. Four guys in descending height order.
They look at their mate. There on the bed. Is he serious?
‘You really want to go?’ asks the short one.
He nods. His face a serious mask. ‘I really want to go.’
The tall one shrugs again. ‘Okay,’ he says, ‘why not?’
‘Because we’ll never get down the street,’ says the guy with the scowl. ‘It’s all bodies and backsides down there.’
‘Let’s at least try.’
The guy with the smile, the can-do guy, goes inside and returns with a stretcher. He pats it and grins again. Another sigh from the short guy. But he steps forward and helps lay the stretcher next to their mate. The others pitch in and they lift him carefully onto the carrier. He doesn’t weigh much. Why would he? He’s wasting away.
They whisk him out into the throng of bodies, fight their way through the sea of flesh. Nobody likes it but they don’t care. The guy with the smile has no doubt they’ll do it. The others are in various stages of embarrassment and annoyance. So they shove on through. Still no room in the house though. The preacher has drawn a massive crowd. The can-do guy looks up. Points.
‘The roof,’ he says.
He nods and doesn’t wait for their reply. He takes his part of the stretcher and starts up the steps. The others mutter and mumble. They have to follow or their mate will fall off. They start ripping tiles. Tearing them off and making a way through. The preacher looks up and raises his eyebrows. That’s his ceiling they’ve just dismantled.
‘Hmmm… I forgive you,’ he says, with a wry smile.
They take the stretcher and work out a way to lower the guy down amongst the crowd inside. The people scatter, make a space in the middle. The preacher crouches down, talks with the guy, they share a joke. He squeezes his shoulder. The atmosphere changes.
All four saw what happened. All four the same thing. One put it down to coincidence. One put it down to positive thinking. One put it down to a miracle. One put it down to the preacher.
One of the guys will never see Jesus again. One of them will forever hang about on the edge of the crowd. One of them will become a close friend. One of them will be crucified next to him.
– – –
4 One day Jesus told this story to a large crowd that had gathered from many towns to hear him: 5 “A farmer went out to plant some seed. As he scattered it across his field, some seed fell on a footpath, where it was stepped on, and the birds came and ate it. 6 Other seed fell on shallow soil with underlying rock. This seed began to grow, but soon it withered and died for lack of moisture. 7 Other seed fell among thorns that shot up and choked out the tender blades. 8 Still other seed fell on fertile soil. This seed grew and produced a crop one hundred times as much as had been planted.” When he had said this, he called out, “Anyone who is willing to hear should listen and understand!” Luke 8
17 One day while Jesus was teaching, some men came carrying a paralyzed man on a sleeping mat. They tried to push through the crowd to Jesus, 19 but they couldn’t reach him. So they went up to the roof, took off some tiles, and lowered the sick man down into the crowd, still on his mat, right in front of Jesus. 20 Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”
21 “Who does this man think he is?” the Pharisees and teachers of religious law said to each other. “This is blasphemy! Who but God can forgive sins?”
22 Jesus knew what they were thinking, so he asked them, “Why do you think this is blasphemy? 23 Is it easier to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven’ or ‘Get up and walk’? 24 I will prove that I, the Son of Man, have the authority on earth to forgive sins.” Then Jesus turned to the paralyzed man and said, “Stand up, take your mat, and go on home, because you are healed!”
25 And immediately, as everyone watched, the man jumped to his feet, picked up his mat, and went home praising God. 26 Everyone was gripped with great wonder and awe. And they praised God, saying over and over again, “We have seen amazing things today.” Luke 5