Good Friends
Pastor Darren Kishimoto

In the Harvesters’ bible study this week, we looked at Luke 5:17-26. In this passage, Luke tells of a time when Jesus was teaching, and many people had come to see and hear him including the Pharisees and teachers of the law from the surrounding area. Since it was early in Jesus’ ministry, people were curious to see him, as he spoke with authority, healed people of their diseases, and cast out demons. So the house that Jesus was speaking in was packed, wall to wall, standing room only with listeners, onlookers, and religious leaders. It says some men brought their paralyzed friend to the house hoping to have Jesus heal him but it was too crowded.

Now I don’t know who the paralyzed man’s friends were but they were a special bunch. I wish we all had friends like them. When they could not find a way to get their friend to Jesus, they didn’t give up. They thought outside the box. We’re told they went up to the roof, cut a hole in it, secured their friend on his mat, and lowered him down through the roof. Luke says they lowered him “into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus.” What an entrance! You can imagine all the commotion as these guys cut through the roof with dust and debris falling down below. Jesus must’ve loved it! Now he had to address this dangling man in front of him, right? In Luke 5:20, it says “When Jesus saw their faith, he said, ‘Friend, your sins are forgiven.’”

It’s interesting that it says when Jesus saw “their” faith. Surely the paralyzed man had faith to agree to the plan but the emphasis here seems to be on the faith of his friends. What were the signs of faith? Well one thing is that these men were determined to get their friend to Jesus. They couldn’t find a way into the house so they went up top. History tells us that the roofs in those days were several feet thick because they were made to walk on. So these men had to figure out a way to cut through the thick roof and tiles. Then they had to figure out how to lower their friend to Jesus. Their persistence spoke of how convinced they were that if they could just get him to Jesus, he would be healed. Isn’t it interesting that their faith prompted Jesus to action. In God’s economy, the faith of friends in bringing others before Jesus is significant. There are other passages in scripture where Jesus speaks of the difference the faith of the people around him makes in how God works in that town or village. Here Jesus responds to the faith of these men.

But these men brought their friend to Jesus for healing, right? So when Jesus says ‘your sins are forgiven,’ they might have been confused or disappointed. In fact, everybody in the house, or on top of it, was probably surprised by Jesus’ words. We see that the Pharisees and religious leaders were appalled. While healing was what they initially wanted, Jesus knew that the forgiveness of sins is what the man needed most. It’s what we all need most! We desire many things in life (physical healing, change in our situations, help with our finances), but what is most important is that we be reconciled with God through the forgiveness of our sins by the redeeming work of Jesus on the cross. That is our greatest need!    

It is beautiful that the paralyzed man’s friends had faith that Jesus could heal him. Maybe they knew, maybe they didn’t, that forgiveness is what he needed first and foremost. Regardless, Jesus commends them for bringing the man to him. This is where it begins. Just a few verses later in the passage (Luke 5:24-25), Jesus tells the man “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home. Immediately he stood up in front of them, took what he had been lying on and went home praising God.”  That’s what really good friends do, they bring others to Jesus. Maybe it’s not possible to pick up your friend and walk them to Jesus like these guys did, but we can share our faith with them, invite them to church, give them a ride, pray for them (herein, lies the importance of intercession).  Ultimately, it’s the individual who must place his/her trust in Jesus. But we have the ability to make a difference and be a good friend!

God bless,

Pastor Darren