Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
A short definition of a word that isn’t hard to find in the Bible. I haven’t looked up how many verses in the Bible has this five letter word, but I have no doubt whatsoever that if I went to work looking them all up, it would keep me busy for a while.
In the Gospels that give us an account of Jesus’s life on this earth, there are many stories where you’ll find the word faith. One of them is in Luke, chapter 5, verses 17-26. It’s about Jesus, a man on a mat, and some of the man’s friends.
One day as Jesus was teaching, there was a huge turnout that included Pharisees and teachers of the law who had come from every village of Galilee and from Judea and Jerusalem. From what the scriptures tell us, they didn’t gather to hear Jesus because they were His believers. They had their own interpretation of the law and it wasn’t quite in sync with Jesus’s teachings. Some may have sought to use Jesus’s own words against Him. Others in the crowd were perhaps curious from what they had heard about Jesus’s healing powers and were more interested in miracles than Jesus’s teaching. And, maybe there were some actual believers in the crowd too.
Among the crowd was a man who was paralyzed and was being carried on a mat, or couch, by some of his friends. They weren’t there to simply get a glimpse of Jesus to satisfy their curiosity. They weren’t skeptics for if they had been, I don’t think they would have gone to all the effort they did to get Jesus’s attention. They must have heard about Jesus’s power to heal and sought Jesus for the healing of the man whose legs were useless to him.
The crowd was so huge they couldn’t make their way through to get Jesus’s attention. Some other friends might have told their paralyzed friend they had done all they could and might as well head back home. Perhaps better luck the next time Jesus was in town. But not these friends. They put their minds together and came up with another way of reaching Jesus. A rather unusual effort under the circumstances. They climbed up on the roof carrying their friend and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the mìddle of the crowd right in front of Jesus.
When Jesus saw their faith in action, He said unto the man on the mat “Man, thy sins are forgiven thee”. The man who could not walk was a sinner. The friends who lowered him down from the roof were sinners. The Pharisees and teachers of the law were sinners. Everyone in the crowd were sinners. The only one who didn’t need forgiveness was the One who could forgive sins and cause the lame to walk.
The Pharisees and the teachers were buzzing like bees reasoning among each other, “Who is this which speaketh blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone?”
Jesus knew what the buzz was all about. He replied to their reasoning by saying, “What reason ye in your hearts? Whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Rise up and walk? But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power upon earth to forgive sins, I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy couch, and go into thine house.”
The man immediately stood before them, walked out on his own two feet, and went back to his house praising God all the way home. His faith and that of his friends had paid off. If they had not taken him or had given up due to the huge crowd, the story would have had a different ending. It should be noted the man was rich in more ways than one. He had friends who cared enough to carry him to Jesus.
The healed man and his friends were not the only ones who were amazed. The crowd was amazed and glorified God. Some hearts were changed from skeptics to believers. They had seen strange things that day that would stay with them for the rest of their days.
Miracles didn’t stop when Jesus returned to the Father. I’ve heard doctors speak of patients’ recovery they had no medical explanation for. I’ve heard of people outliving their death sentences handed down by their doctors. It’s a comfort to know that events happen every day that defies logic. If only what we could see and explain with human reasoning is all that ever happened in this world, what would be the point of faith and hope?
If you ever had a prayer answered, as I have many times, you have witnessed a “strange” thing as that crowd did so long ago.