Bible Story: Four Men on a Roof
Based on Matthew 9:1–8
Retold by Paul Katula

The BASIC STORY

Jesus was teaching inside a friend's house, and a lot of people came to hear him speak. If he were a movie, he would be a real blockbuster.

But a very sick man, who couldn't walk, desperately wanted to hear Jesus. Four of his friends also knew Jesus would be able to cure the man.

When the five of them got to the house where Jesus was teaching, however, the crowds were thick, and they couldn't penetrate. Still, they knew they had to get their sick friend in to see the Lord.

Up On the Housetop
Desperate as they were to get their friend in, they tried in vain to muscle their way through the crowd. Then, two of them came up with what we call "Plan B." They climbed up onto the roof of the house and started removing shingles, in order to make a large hole.

Their two friends who remained on the ground threw ropes up to them and attached the other ends of the ropes to the stretcher that was carrying their sick friend.

After their sick friend was hoisted up to the rooftop, the two men who were already up there lowered him down to Jesus' side through the hole that they had made in the roof.

Jesus knew how hard the sick man's four friends had worked just to get their friend into the house. Jesus was very impressed, and because they had shown their faith in his ability to heal their friend, Jesus said to the sick man, "Get up and walk home; all your sins of the past are forgiven."

As the five men walked home happily, they sang praises to God, saying, "Glory to God in the highest! Surely, this is God's Son who has come among us."

The MORAL of the STORY

(See also Luke 5:18–26 and Mark 2:1–12.)

Here, Jesus tells the paralyzed man to walk home so that all the so-called "religious" teachers of the time will believe that the Son of Man has the authority to forgive sins, which is not something the priests were teaching when Jesus was alive. The forgiveness of sin is the major theme of Matthew's entire gospel, and here it is told in a few lines.

We know from the annunciation (Matthew 1:21) to Peter's assurance at Pentecost (Acts 2:38) that forgiveness can only come from God. Therefore, if Jesus can forgive sins (and it certainly worked in this case), he must come from God as well. In other words, he is God incarnate. Not only is he a prophet who speaks for God, but he actually must be God, if he can forgive sins.

Matthew also observes Jesus' hostile attitude toward those who claim to teach religion, such as the scribes. These people were supposed to be the keepers of the moral code: they told people what was lawful behavior and what types of behavior meant you were breaking your promise to God. They taught that only the Messiah could forgive sins, and Jesus' claim here to that role will be the accusation that leads to his showdown in front of Pontius Pilate.

Even with the message above, the miracle happened long ago. The question is, What relevance does it have in our lives today? Clearly, there is an example of teamwork here: of finding a way and giving your talents and creativity to help your friends. What other wonderful thing has the Lord done for you lately? Consider this: There are more forms of paralysis than just not being able to walk. Sometimes, we are "paralyzed" in our ability to think. Sometimes in our will or desire to take certain actions.

Sometimes we don't look for alternative solutions to our problems. And the Bible teaches us (see Job, e.g.) that the problems that make us unhealthy in many different ways may come to us because we have some unforgiven sin hanging around on our consciences.

For example, have you ever not known how to complete an assignment? Have you ever suffered from "writer's block" or some similar "affliction?" Maybe unforgiven sin on your conscience is the cause of your suffering, and turning to Christ can help. But the doorway to Christ might be "blocked" with a thick crowd. You may have to find a Plan B.

So, did you go to the Internet for help? Someone else may have responded to God's call to share their creativity with you there, and that could get you over a hurdle and move you closer to completing an assignment. Or, did you ask a friend or relative for help with the assignment? Maybe they have insights that could end your paralysis. How about asking God? Praying for help with your assignment? You have lots of friends who care about you and helping you accomplish whatever God has asked you to do. Don't be paralyzed. Make use of those gifts from God with confidence... the confidence that God also loves you, and he will provide good solutions for the people who have chosen to serve him.