Ripping off the roof

Mark 2:4-5
“they removed the roof above him, and when they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay.  And when Jesus saw their faith….”

Dear CBC Family,

This week I have been having the roof replaced on my house. It’s been a noisy, trying and costly experience. Nevertheless, I realize God has a purpose in it and today I will share one of them with you. Perhaps one of the main reasons this is happening is for YOUR sake. Bear with me for a moment.

In Mark 2, Jesus has returned to Capernaum to teach and heal. On this particular evening, he’s speaking in a packed home. People are wall to wall, straining to hear the famous preacher and perhaps witness a miracle or two.

Meanwhile, five guys—four mobile and one paralyzed—are outside the house desperately trying to get in. The four have carried their paralyzed friend a great distance only to be turned away at the door. There is no room for them. Sounds a lot like Bethlehem with Mary and Joseph.

The Bible doesn’t say this, but I imagine the paralytic saying something like, “Hey guys, thanks for trying, but it doesn’t look like it’s going to happen today.” The friends, perhaps wiping sweat from their brows are considering their next move

One of them says, “Wait” and points up. “What about the roof? What if we take him in through the roof?” The rest buy in to this plan and get a second wind. They start ripping, clawing, digging through the roof with their hands, sticks, anything they can find. Imagine them busting through the surface that’s strong enough to hold their weight, yet it was no match for the four friends, determined to get through.

And imagine their friend, lying on the ground, amazed by their determination and strength. Does he cheer them on? Or shake his head in amazement? Is he humbled by their efforts and their willingness to take a huge risk on his behalf? Or is he scared out of his wits about being hauled up and lowered down? He was already paralyzed, but still—what if he fell? What if they all fell?

Now imagine the people in the house. Debris and clods of dirt start to fall on their heads and, as they peer up, into their eyes. Is it an earthquake? Jesus smiles knowing exactly what is going on. The owner of the house is confused, and really concerned. All of a sudden, a man is lowered into the center of the room. Gasps. Silence.

The faith of the friends is quite visible, is it not? Through one of the most creative schemes ever, their faith in Jesus is made clear to everyone. They ripped a roof off! That’s faith if I’ve ever seen it!

And Mark writes that Jesus looks at the men and sees their faith. The giant gap in the roof is a further reminder of their belief. Then he speaks to the paralytic. His first words are . . . “Son, your sins are forgiven.”

At this point, if I’m one of the four men, I’m thinking, Uh, Jesus? Did you notice he was paralyzed? We were hoping you’d do something about that.”

The Pharisees have some thoughts of their own, and they are not pleasant. Mark tells us that Jesus knows they think he is blaspheming. Jesus responds by saying, “So that you might know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins . . .” He heals.

By this one act, Jesus proves he is on equal footing with the Judge of all: God. He can forgive and heal. And, thanks to friends, faith, and the power of Jesus, the former paralytic rolls up his mat and walks away in freedom and forgiveness.

For three days now I have watched 7 workers rip the old roof off of my house. With each bang and crash tiles and material comes flying off. It has rained on them and yet they have persevered through it. These workers KNOW that these actions WILL pay off and so they continue regardless of fatigue, weather, rotten wood or broken tiles.

It is in the midst of this scene that I can hear the Master’s voice saying “sometimes you’ve got to rip the roof off to get people to Jesus.” Then I realized the illustration is intended to encourage me, to encourage you, to “rip the roof off.” Rip the roofs of your lives in order to get people to Jesus. Let these men in Mark inspire you to forget about safety and just do what needs to be done. If that isn’t doing it for you call me up and come sit in my driveway for a while and see what determination looks like. The effort will be worth it my friend.

Did these men in Mark choose the safe route? Was ripping the roof off a “wise decision”? Lowering a paralytic on a mat through a hole in the roof was probably not on the “Top 5 Strategies to Help Your Friends Get to Jesus” list. I doubt it was part of any evangelism book. Yet, here in God’s Word we learn by example what it takes to get some people to Jesus!

Similarly, I’m grateful that God put people in my life who didn’t choose the safe road but were there when I needed direction and truth. Why not be one of those people for someone else? Jesus and others are so worth the risks. There are desperate, paralyzed, sinful people around us who need Jesus. What are you doing to get them to Him?

As the crowds in Capernaum all went home that day, I wonder if the owners of the house just sat staring up at the gaping hole in their roof. Was the effort and cost worth it to them? The text doesn’t say…..but hopefully they remembered that they knew a Carpenter who just might be able to help. 😊

Blessings to you all,

Pastor Scott




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