My friend, Scott McGaha, wrote today’s WMD.
“So many gathered that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them. Some men came, bringing to him a paralytic, carried by four of them. Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus and, after digging through it, lowered the mat the paralyzed man was lying on.” Mark 2:2-4
For as long as I can remember I have loved this story. I think I’ve just always been amazed by the men and their willingness to do anything to get this paralyzed man to Jesus, their willingness to do anything, no matter how unconventional, to get him to the man that word had spread was performing miracles and healing people. As God brought it to mind the last day or so and began to speak to me what I’m now sharing with you, I went back and read the story several times and in multiple translations to look for other things I thought I should point out.
One thing I want to touch on is the way the man is described, “a paralytic”. Being labeled can be painful. Labels stick with you, often forever, and they also tend to get shared by others. Often people will inadvertently create an opinion in the mind of a new acquaintance just by the way they introduce us. Believe me, I know all too well. Some of you may have even heard some variation of this: “this is Scott, he talks a lot.” While it’s true I do enjoy conversing with people, I would be willing to bet I don’t talk nearly as much as people might think, I simply talk to people when I have the opportunity to. And since I spend almost every evening alone after work, it’s not very much. But that’s the kind of thing I’m talking about. Some of you have probably had some painful labels placed on you. He’s a thief. She’s a liar. You can’t trust him. Don’t believe her. That person’s a ______, fill in the blank. Drug addict, felon, adulterer, failure, and the list goes on and on. Those labels can be hard to ever shake, and they most certainly are painful to always have placed on you.
Another thing I want to touch on is the group of men. I’ve always thought it was only 4, but it’s possible there were others. Regardless, these guys impress me. I want to be one of them. I’ve heard preachers describe them in many ways over the years, but what stands out to me is their love. I say to people constantly and I truly believe it, we all just want to be loved. I can only imagine how badly this paralyzed man wanted to feel loved, how much he wanted to fit in with and just be one of the guys. I imagine long before Jesus healed him his heart must have felt full realizing how much this group of men truly cared about him. These guys didn’t just swing by in a handicap enabled vehicle, roll the man out in his wheelchair and put him in, then drive him down to a special church service and up the wheelchair ramp and inside. They carried him there. It doesn’t say how far, but considering Jesus was staying in this house, I doubt he lived close by. And not only did they carry him there, but when they couldn’t get inside, they didn’t leave and offer to come back another day, they climbed up on the roof and went to work. I don’t care if it was only a thatched roof made of straw, they had to get up there, get through whatever it was made of, and then get him down to Jesus. I know it wasn’t easy. More importantly, I know they didn’t give up.
I can’t help but compare this story to the one in John 5 about the paralyzed man lying by the pool of Bethesda. He tells Jesus that when the waters stir and he tries to get into the water first to be cured, he has no one to help him and someone else always beats him into the water and so for 38 years now he has been an invalid. Scripture says in Ecclesiastes 4 that two are better than one, for if one falls the other can help them up but pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. These two stories are a perfect illustration of that.
Which brings me to my final point, what sort of people do you have around you? And beyond people, what other types of influences? Do they take you closer to Jesus? Or do they take you away from Jesus? What sort of person are you to others? Are you getting them closer to Jesus? Or are you blocking the way, keeping people from getting closer to Him?
When God placed this on my heart today, I messaged Adam to tell him I had something he could use for his WMD if he didn’t already have something written. And then I felt the rest of this come into my heart, and I want to share it. This is my testimony of what Adam has meant to me and my life.
For those who have never heard me tell it, Adam and I were actually kept by the same babysitter when we were probably around 1 and 2 years old. Obviously neither of us remembers that time, and through our elementary and middle school years I don’t think either of us really has many memories together. It’s like we’re there, but never really interacting. Like two actors in a movie that are never in the same scene. I think we were on the same rec baseball team one time and that only lasted a couple of practices. And then one day, when we were in junior high or beginning high school, we got into a fight. It was really nothing more than a headlock I didn’t think I would ever be able to get out of, and then Adam said, “let’s stop fighting and be friends again.” I honestly don’t think we really had been prior to that moment, but suddenly we were best friends through high school and into college. After that, life began to happen and through the years we’d drift apart and then start hanging out some and then drift apart. But what really is clear to me are the occasions where something could have probably destroyed our friendship, but thankfully our maturity and love for one another didn’t allow that to happen. And thank God it didn’t, because I can tell you there’s been several times in my life where I’ve been spiritually paralytic, and he has picked me up and carried me to Jesus. I know he’s been hurt by some folks who have acted like the teachers of the law in the rest of the story and tried to nitpick and find fault in him just like they did with Jesus. But just like with Jesus, these people didn’t know Adam’s heart. Just as with Jesus, that takes a relationship to truly understand. I know Adam loves everyone, especially those who are hurting. I know he’s taken roles God has asked him to take, even when others told him he shouldn’t. And I know he’ll do whatever it takes to find that lost lamb, even if it means leaving the 99 behind to cast their stones of judgement at him. I know he’s been hurt, a lot more than he’s deserved to be. And I also know he’d do it all again, because I know he loves people, especially the least of these.