Luke 5:17b-20a (CEV)
God had given Jesus the power to heal the sick, 18 and some people came carrying a crippled man on a mat. They tried to take him inside the house and put him in front of Jesus. 19 But because of the crowd, they could not get him to Jesus. So they went up on the roof, where they removed some tiles and let the mat down in the middle of the room. 20 When Jesus saw how much faith they had …
Nobody remembers who these people were who came carrying a crippled man on a mat. They could just be some random guys. Maybe this crippled man sat on his mat begging every day and he just changed his tune this day from begging for money to begging for a lift over to Jesus. Or maybe it was never his idea. Maybe the people who brought this crippled man to Jesus had been his friends since they were little. Maybe it was their idea in the first place. Maybe they were the ones who begged and cajoled the guy into letting them bring him to Jesus.
But either way they’re kind of the unsung heros. Either way they’re the ones that nobody remembers at the end of the day, but without whom the story could never have happened.
And that reminds me of a long string of people I’ve known with the gift of servanthood or the gift of ‘helps’. Nathan talked about this one last summer when he was going through the gifts, and I have been fortunate enough to have had some of these people in my life through the years. I couldn’t help but think of this story when Kent popped his head into one of the new Redwood properties at 8:30 Wednesday evening to ask if I needed help … and then stayed to help me assemble bunkbeds for two hours when he had to be up for work at 5:00 the next morning – and that was after he’d spent his day off running errands all over the province to help keep Redwood running smoothly.
I remember an incredible woman who was part of a small group we ran years ago who stayed to wash the dishes for a dozen people every week at 11:00 at night, by hand, since we had no dishwasher and she didn’t want me to have to do it on my own when I had two little ones to look after. I think of so many people who show up around VOX every week to do thinks like help people move – even taking time off work to do so (like this morning at 10:00 am when people will show up yet again to help someone they don’t even know to move) – or take a friend’s kids for a few hours, or give someone a drive, or show up to court with someone, or fix a faucet, or run some wires, or sit at a hospital bedside with someone as their loved one dies, or take amazing photographs of a babe who’s life will be far too short.
And I want to pause at the beginning of this story and notice these folks who bring this crippled man to Jesus. We don’t know what other things they were supposed to be doing that day. We don’t know how much needed income they decided to do without so that they could take him. We don’t know how heavy the guy was, how awkward his ‘mat’ was to carry, or how far they had to come.
What we do know is that these unnamed people show up with the guy on the mat to a house that is full, and they don’t accept no for an answer. We do know that they carry him up to the flat roof of the house and start taking apart the ceiling tiles. We do know that they find some rope and find some way to tie the rope to the guy’s mat and barge in on this “important crowd” of Pharisees and experts of the Law of Moses that we met yesterday and lower their friend in.
And as we will see tomorrow, Jesus takes this act of faith and runs with it. It’s a really, really good thing that these people did what they did.
But we still don’t know their names.
- Do you have the gift of helps?
- Do you ever worry that if you did the things you want to do to help people that you’d get in trouble?
- Do you ever worry that people would judge you?
- What if your actions might be the very act of faith Jesus wants to run with?
- What would give you the courage to begin to act more frequently on your gifts?
- Are you part of the rest of us who don’t feel we have the gift of helps? That’s okay. Today is still for you.
- What can you do to encourage those with these gifts?
- What can you do to see them?
- To notice what they have done?
- To appreciate them for their act of service?
- And what can you do to help in spite of not having this gift?