It was hard, dusty work. The men were using their bare hands to scrape away at the roof. They were tired, a bit thirsty, but in good spirits as they worked away, grabbing chunks of mud, straw, tearing, pulling up, trying to create a hole big enough. They didn’t have much in the way of tools with them (this was pretty much unplanned) but as they mentally worked out how much space they’d need, suddenly, they’d cleared a hole big enough.
They looked down through the building on to the heads of the people below. They were all packed tightly into the room, hardly any breathing space at all, clamouring stickily around this man called Jesus.
To be honest, everyone wanted a piece of Jesus.They’d heard he was doing some amazing things, healing people, talking to evil spirits. Who wouldn’t want to see that? That’s big stuff.
Just like everyone else, the men had turned up looking for a miracle. Their best friend was paralysed, confined to a stretcher. He was unable to do anything for himself and in a day before any of the amazing tech and medicine we have today, it must have been even more profoundly uncomfortable and distressing.
The men turned up carrying their friend on a makeshift stretcher, but not a chance, there was no way they could get anywhere near Jesus. All around him were people, each more desperate than the next, looking for answers, for hope, for healing.
And then one of them had a brainwave.
‘Let’s get him up on the roof…we can peel the roof back and lower him down to Jesus…’
The other friends stared at him for a minute (was he serious???). But then the idea began to take shape. Maybe he had a point?
Desperate times call for desperate measures.
And so the hot, thirsty, dusty work of hoisting a paralysed man onto a roof top, and then slowly, methodically peeling back a roofspace, began.
At first, the crowds in the room didn’t notice what was going on and then as bits of dust and straw began to settle on to their heads, someone pointed up, WHAT was going ON?? Seriously??? Someone had pulled the ROOF OFF??
Jesus didn’t say a great deal (well, not a lot is recorded in the Mark 2 version of the story) but he did instantly forgive the paralysed man and set him free to walk again. All the verse says, ‘When Jesus saw their faith…’
The way I read it, pulling up a roof really isn’t work for the faint hearted. It involves heavy lifting, it’s tiring and if you add the heat of the Mediterranean sun into the mix, it’d be an exhausting job. You wouldn’t even attempt it. Well, not unless you believed and knew that it was the only way to get to Jesus.
The Bible doesn’t say what these men really thought (anything I’ve said here is just my over enthusiastic imagination) but it does say what they did. And they were determined to do what had to be done to get a miracle for their friend.
I love the stories of Jesus’ life recorded across the Gospels. So often he was surrounded by anxious, sick, hurting people. So often, people must have pushed way beyond their pain barriers, their comfort zones, just to get to him. From the woman who was bleeding internally, to the lepers, to Zacheus the dodgy tax collector, they did what they could do, to get the answers they so badly needed.
When they stepped out, Jesus did the rest.
Many of us need, want and pray for miracles and a change in circumstances. But are we also willing to do what we need to do, first?
Are we willing to dig up the roof, to get to Jesus?