This well-known passage describes four friends who take heroic measures, aiding a man who is paralyzed. They lower the man through the roof of a house and set him at the feet of Jesus. Jesus rewards their efforts with forgiveness and healing.
I had the opportunity to unpack these verses with thirty-two grandparents. I introduced my talk by asking the grandparents to listen with new ears as the story was being read.
“Listen to what this passage tells us about intercessory prayer,” I instructed. “Specifically, listen to what it tells us about praying for our grandchildren.”
If you as the reader feel confused, don’t be discouraged. You are in good company. The grandparents were boggled until we began answering the following questions:
- Why does the paralytic need his friend’s help?
- How many friends lower the man through the roof?
- Why does Jesus heal the paralytic?
- How does the crowd respond?
I know that these questions appear ridiculously simple. However, they tie this passage, which is known as a lesson on faith, to the topic of intercessory prayer.
Why does the paralytic need his friend’s help?
The paralytic can’t walk; therefore, he needs his friends to carry him to Jesus.
More and more of our grandchildren are choosing not to walk with Christ. Humanism, the doctrine which opposes God in order to elevate man, infects today’s culture. While we worry about the world in which our grandchildren are being raised, they embrace it as the only world they’ve ever known.
What can we as grandparents do? Instead of wringing our hands in angst, we need to lift our hands in prayer. God calls us to stand in the gap, to be “stretcher bearers” interceding on our family’s behalf through daily prayer.
How many friends lower the man through the roof?
Scripture doesn’t indicate the paralytic’s size; however, we assume that lowering him through the roof requires the work of four men.
Let’s do the math. Imagine the paralytic weighs one-hundred pounds. If only one friend is present, he or she shoulders all one-hundred pounds, alone. With four friends present, however, the load is divided among the four, leaving each friend twenty-five pounds to carry.
May I suggest that we share the burdens we carry for our families by praying regularly with other grandparents?
Why does Jesus heal the paralytic?
If we look at Mark 2:5, we notice that “when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven.'”
Jesus uses their, a plural possessive pronoun, in reference to the friends. He forgives and heals the paralytic, because the friends have faith.
Matthew 8:5-13 recounts a similar story. A Roman centurion appeals to Jesus to heal his servant who is lying paralyzed at home, suffering terribly. The soldier declines Jesus’ offer to accompany him home by proclaiming, “…only say the word, and my servant will be healed.” Jesus, marveling at the Gentiles faith, heals the servant at that very moment.
Rest assured, God answers the prayers of the faithful, including those of us grandparents living in the twenty-first century.
How does the crowd respond?
Mark writes, “All were amazed and glorified God” (Mark 2:12).
I believe that God delights in answering our requests for healing, salvation, provision, protection and more. The more we pray, the more opportunities He has to answer our prayers.
Did you know that the Psalmist commands us to “tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might, and the wonders that he has done” (Psalm 78:4)? When we share stories about the ways God has answered our prayers, we heed the Psalmist’s command. These stories captivate our children, grandchildren and others who are watching from the sidelines, especially when the stories include them.
Like it or not, we live in a spiritual war zone, battling daily for the hearts, souls and minds of our grandchildren. Mark 2:1-12 not only inspires but calls us to be “stretcher-bearers,” interceding on our grandchildren’s behalf.
Question: How do we stand in the gap?
Answer: We stand in the gap by bending our knees in prayer.