Wednesday, June 19, 2013

With a Little Help From My Friends

     As a family, we have always tried to be there to encourage, support and pray for each other.  It is a blessing to sit back ( having raised our family and given them wings) and observe their parenting as well as their interaction with one another.  On our recent family vacation, some of our children, their spouses and our grandchildren went to a local playground that offered many fun activities.  One of the areas had a rock climbing wall.  When they returned I looked at their pictures and two stood out to me.
Reid and Aaron helping Branson
up the rock climbing wall.
In one photo, our middle son Reid was helping his special needs son, Branson climb the rock climbing wall while Uncle Aaron helped to lift him from the top.  Once he reached the top, he stood there with arm upraised to show the victory of accomplishment.  My heart was deeply warmed as I looked at these pictures.  It took teamwork to help Branson up that wall, and what a thrill for him to do what he could not do by himself.  To me, that demonstrates love and reminds me of another story of teamwork in order to help another.
     Mark 2:1-12 tells the story of a paralytic man who was brought to Jesus for physical healing by four friends.  The house where Jesus was teaching was filled so that there was no room to enter with this man lying on his bed.  Not giving up, the men went onto the ceiling of the home and cut a hole and lowered the paralytic on his bed down by ropes in front of Jesus.  Verse 5 reads:  "And when Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, 'Son, your sins are forgiven'".  Of course, the Scribes that were gathered there complained that Jesus was blaspheming because only God could forgive sins.  They only saw the man Jesus and did not recognize their Lord and Messiah.  Jesus knew their inward doubts and spoke these words to them (vs. 9-11):  "Which is easier to say to the paralytic, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say 'Rise take up your bed and walk?'  But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins - He said to the paralytic - 'I say to you, rise, pick up your bed and go home.'"  Within an instant, the man rose up, picked up his bed and went out glorifying God.  Everyone was amazed.
     There are some important lessons in this passage.  First, this paralytic man could not come to Jesus on his own.  He didn't have the ability physically.  However, he had four faithful friends who spared no expense to help him succeed in going to see Jesus.  These men were dedicated because when they could not get in the door they found another way for the man to be seen by the Lord.  Jesus even acknowledged their faith in Him.  We all need friends like that and we need to be a friend like that.  Nothing demonstrates the grace of God more clearly than to help another in need.  They cared about the paralytic man enough to go the extra mile.  We need to do the same for one another.
     Secondly, Jesus used this moment to teach those with ears to hear and eyes to see that He had the authority to forgive sins.  By telling the paralytic that his sins were forgiven, He points out that the greatest need this man had was not physical but spiritual.  His soul was more paralyzed than his body whether he knew it or not.  However, Jesus freed him from this bondage.  Then, the Lord commanded him to pick up his bed and go home thus healing him physically as well.
     Finally, we need to see a picture here of our own condition.  This paralytic could not help himself.
Reid, (left) and Aaron on top with Branson rejoicing at reaching the top.
 There was no "pulling himself up by his boot straps" in order to get well.  He was unable to save his own soul let alone heal himself.   With help from his friends, however, the man was carried to Jesus who did have the power both to forgive his sins and heal his physical body.  Here is a picture of salvation.  We are dead in our sins and unable to save ourselves.  In fact, we do not love God at all in our sin nature.  Yet, the Holy Spirit regenerates us and awakens us to the call of God in Christ.  He enables us to be healed of sin and set free to serve and glorify Him forever.  There is nothing in ourselves that can accomplish this.  Recognizing this should makes our hearts fill with gratitude.
     When I saw two brothers working together to raise Branson up that wall and help him reach the top, I saw this scripture come to life in my mind.  They helped a child who could not do this on his own.  As believers, we are called to reach those who are dead in sin who cannot help themselves and bring them to Jesus.  We cannot make anyone become a Christian, but we can tell the Good News so that they may hear.  The results are in God's hands alone.  May God make our hearts tender towards our neighbor that we might see their needs and make the effort to reach them for God's glory.  As we do this, our hearts will be blessed as we serve the King of Kings.  Selah!

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