Have You Tried the Roof?

One of my favorite stories in the gospels is the story of the four men who carry a paralyzed man to Jesus [Mark 2:1-12]. 

Imagine the details surrounding the narrative. Jesus is talking to a huge crowd crammed in and around Peter’s house. Hearing a loud noise on the roof, people begin to look up. Peter is especially concerned as it is his house being trashed and the crowd far exceeds the fire code. A hole in the roof appears. Debris starts falling. More noise, more debris. The hole gets bigger, and light begins to shine through. Then an entire section of the roof is ripped off. Peter must be livid. What is going on? Who is on my roof? 

Four guys appear, looking through the large hole. Just as people start to wonder what these guys are doing, they begin to lower their paralyzed friend to Jesus on a mat. Surely these four unnamed guys first tried more conventional ways to get this guy to Jesus. Perhaps they attempted to go through the front door, but it was completely packed with people. They probably approached a window, but people were stacked five or six deep. 

They could have said they tried. They could have gone home and told their friends how much they tried to bring someone to Christ. They could have wrapped up the day in prayer and gone home. But they persisted. They went for the roof. 

Perhaps they saw some of Peter’s fishing ropes on the side of his house and tied the portable bed to the ropes. I am sure they debated tearing up Peter’s roof. After all, Peter was a little impetuous and loud-mouthed at times. But their love for their friend compelled them. The original language literally says they “unroofed the roof.” They dug through the thatch made of leaves, mud, and mortar. They destroyed the roof so they could lower their friend to Jesus. 

Jesus said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” The words Jesus spoke were beautiful. He called him son. He expressed friendship and love to him. He declared, as only Jesus can, his sins to be forgiven. The men could take off a roof, but only Jesus can take away sin. 

If the scene occurred today, how would you respond? Where would you fit in the story?

Would you be like the crowd? They filled the room and surrounded the house to see Jesus. They stood and listened to Him speak. They watched as four people attempted to bring a paralyzed man to Jesus. They watched. They did not move out of the way. They did not help. They were there to see a show. They were there first and were not going to give up the view. The crowd missed an opportunity to be a part of bringing the paralyzed man to Jesus because they were not looking for the opportunity. 

Would you be like the religious ones? Evidently, they arrived early because they are the only ones sitting. They arrived early to critique. They evaluated the work of God rather than participating in it. They united in criticism instead of uniting in the mission of bringing the paralyzed man to Christ. 

Or would you be like the unnamed heroes, the regular guys who were willing to take a risk to bring someone to Christ? Their broken and burdened hearts led them to urgent action. 

In ministry, the door is often blocked and the window is often locked. Have you tried the roof? Are you still convinced in the forgiving power of Jesus, so much so that your faith leads to bold action?

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Eric Geiger is the Senior Pastor of Mariners Church in Irvine, California. Before moving to Southern California, he served as senior vice-president for LifeWay Christian. Eric received his doctorate in leadership and church ministry from Southern Seminary and has authored or co-authored several books, including the best selling church leadership book, Simple Church. He is married to Kaye, and they have two daughters: Eden and Evie. During his free time, Eric enjoys dating his wife, taking his daughters to the beach, and playing basketball.