Two things, other than the ruined roof, are interesting in this encounter. The first is Jesus’ initial response to the paralytic. “Child, your sins are forgiven.” I am sure that was the last thing the four carriers expected or hoped to hear from Jesus. They certainly had not carried the man from wherever they were from, hoisted him up to the roof of the building, tore apart the roof and then lowered him down before Jesus in order for his sins to be forgiven. What kind of sins could a paralytic have committed? The question should not have been “Who but God alone can forgive sins?” but rather who but God alone would know that the man had sins to forgive?
The second surprising thing about this encounter is that the paralytic has no speaking part. We are sure of the faith of the four carriers but do not know anything about the paralytic until he actually does what Jesus tells him to do: pick up his mat and walk. His active expression of faith is every bit as powerful as that of the four men who had helped him. For the paralytic, the power to overcome the doubt and fear that he would not be able to do just as Jesus said was a great witness to the disciples who had gathered to hear Jesus’ words.
In our lives, many of us have experienced times of paralysis, times when we have not known where to turn, times when we had to rely on the faith of those around us to sustain and carry us forward. There are other times when we have been that person who carried a friend in their time of need. In all of these experiences, it is Jesus who stands before us to both accept us as we are and challenge us to move forward in faith and trust; to take up our
mats and walk. Our response is, itself, a blessing of God.