The Friends’ Faith
Do you have a friend who you pray for often? Maybe it’s someone you pray for in general or maybe it’s a specific need that you lift up daily. I have brothers in Christ that I lift up in general, praying that the Lord would sustain them and keep them strong throughout this constant battle, but I have other friends with specific needs: the one with the chronic illness and no answer, the friends with financial problems that don’t seem to go away, the ones who have wandered from the faith; I lift my friends up to Christ in prayer, and in Matthew 9, Mark 2, and Luke 5 we find accounts of when a group of friends brought their friend to Jesus.
“When Jesus returned to Capernaum several days later, the news spread quickly that he was back home. Soon the house where he was staying was so packed with visitors that there was no more room, even outside the door.” (Mark 2:1-2)
“Some men came carrying a paralyzed man on a sleeping mat. They tried to take him inside to Jesus, but they couldn’t reach him because of the crowd.” (Luke 5:18-19)
We can carry our friends to Jesus in prayer but sometimes it seems crowded around Jesus and we can’t get into the house. We may hear of someone else’s prayer being answered but not ours, and it can feel like there are too many people in the way. But the friends don’t give up when they can’t get to Jesus.
“So they went up to the roof and took off some tiles. Then they lowered the sick man on his mat down into the crowd, right in front of Jesus.” (Luke 5:19)
They kept trying! They climbed the stairs up to the roof and they took the roof apart. Surely carrying a man on a cot up stairs wasn’t easy. Surely the tiles on the roof weren’t light. It’s hard work but they kept at it, remaining diligent.
“Never stop praying.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17)
“‘Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.’” (Matthew 7:7)
Jesus didn’t teach to ask once or seek once or knock once; he said to keep on, continually ask, seek, and knock. These friends exemplify this: they kept trying until they got their friend to Jesus, and when they did, sins were forgiven.
“…you can be sure that whoever brings the sinner back will save that person from death and bring about the forgiveness of many sins.” (James 5:20)
“Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8)
“Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the man, ‘Young man, your sins are forgiven.’” (Luke 5:20)
When we bring someone to Christ, it will always bring about the forgiveness of sins.
Now, as usual, when Jesus was teaching, religious leaders were around and they thought it was blasphemy for Jesus to declare that the man’s sins were forgiven.
“But some of the teachers of religious law who were sitting there thought to themselves, ‘What is he saying? This is blasphemy! Only God can forgive sins!’” (Mark 2:6-7)
There are three pieces of evidence in this brief account that Jesus has divine Authority. The first is that he forgave the man’s sins. The second is that Jesus knew what the religious leaders were thinking.
“Jesus knew what they were thinking, so he asked them, ‘Why do you have such evil thoughts in your hearts?’” (Matthew 9:4)
“Jesus knew immediately what they were thinking, so he asked them, ‘Why do you question this in your hearts?’” (Mark 2:8)
“Jesus knew what they were thinking, so he asked them, ‘Why do you question this in your hearts?’” (Luke 5:22)
“The LORD knows people's thoughts…” (Psalm 94:11)
Finally Jesus gave the third piece of evidence for his Authority:
“‘So I will prove to you that the Son of Man has the authority on earth to forgive sins.' Then Jesus turned to the paralyzed man and said, 'Stand up, pick up your mat, and go home!’ And immediately, as everyone watched, the man jumped up, picked up his mat, and went home praising God.” (Luke 5:24-25)
Jesus miraculously healed the man and the man went home praising God. The friends knew that their friend needed Jesus; they carried him to Jesus, and when it seemed that they weren’t going to get through to Jesus they kept trying; when they got their friend to Jesus, his sins were forgiven and a miracle happened. Never stop praying, never stop asking, never stop seeking. Keep bringing your friends to Jesus.
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.