They were friends, those Five. Committed to each other. And in hearing rumors that Jesus was nearby—having just returned to Capernaum from a whirl-wind trip filled with lepers, demons, and miracle healings—they came up with a brilliant idea.
And so came the Five. To the house where Jesus was staying. One carried by the other Four because he was paralyzed. All of them in search of a miracle.
But a massive crowd around the house kept the Five from reaching Jesus. As the Four carried their paralyzed friend, pushing into the press of bodies to get to the door, they realized they were going to have to find another way in. So, undeterred, they climbed up onto the roof. The Four hoisting the One. Step by step up, hand over hand, they lifted their friend, desperate to get him to Jesus.
You probably know the rest of the story. They ripped off part of the roof, made a man-sized hole, and lowered their friend down to Jesus. Where Jesus declared that because of their “bold belief” the paralyzed man’s sins were forgiven (Mark 2:5, The Message). And then—can you imagine the scene in your mind?—Jesus healed that guy. The One just picked up his stretcher and walked out.
Visualize for a moment, not the bold belief of the Four, those roof-rippers who were relentless for their friend, but the One. The guy on the stretcher. He placed his life (literally) into their hands. Imagine his emotions as he was dangled above the heads of all those in the room. The vertigo of being suspended, swinging slightly as he was lowered. Not seeing what was down below him. Just gazing up into the hopeful eyes of his friends above as he was grabbed by hands from beneath him. He was exposed. Completely vulnerable. He trusted his friends not to drop him. He trusted their faith. He entrusted his vulnerable body and emotions into their care. After all, they were his friends. And they trusted in the receiving hands of Jesus. How sweet it must have been for the Four, still up on the roof, to see their dear friend stand up and walk!
Authentic friendships require the reciprocal elements of vulnerability and trust. For there to be trust, there must be vulnerability. And to be vulnerable, there must be a level of trust. They work together, in relational interplay, moving the friendship into ever-deepening circles of connection and intimacy.
ACTION: Which feels more difficult for you in your friendships: vulnerability or trust? Can you name the places where vulnerability feels hard? Or trust feels unsafe or impossible? How might you entrust those vulnerabilities into the receiving hands of the Healing Savior? Your sins are forgiven, rise up and walk.