Unroofing the roof by Jan Davis

    Over the years, Ethan learned to accept his fate. Through no fault of his own, life dealt him a bitter blow with paralysis. His bed because his prison. The light from the small window was the only connection with the outside world. Left alone for long periods, his heart hardened with resentment and bitterness. He blamed God.

    Ethan's four friends entered his room. "Man, come with us this Sabbath. The crowds that follow Jesus continue to grow." They crossed their legs and sat on the floor.

    How could Jesus help him? His family lost hope a long time ago.

    "People are healed. The blind receive their sight, the lame walk and lepers are cleansed."

    Ethan heard the excitement in their voices and his curiosity grew. What did he have to lose? At least he would be out of the house. If the guys wanted to carry him to Jesus, why not?

    "If I go, do you promise to leave me alone?"

    "Absolutely!" They pounded Ethan's shoulders. "Jesus is at the home of one of his followers. We'll be here early on the Sabbath in hopes to get ahead of the crowd."

    Ethan smiled at the eagerness in his friends' voices. He wished he shared their enthusiasm. If he didn't expect much, then he wouldn't be disappointed.

    Ethan's comrades arrived early on the Sabbath with a homemade gurney.

    Unable to contain their enthusiasm, they lowered Ethan and his mat onto the chaise. Ethan became caught up in the moment.

    They talked and laughed as they walked through the streets of Capernaum. Oblivious of the stares of others, they focused on the task at hand. The closer they drew to their destination, the greater the crowd. What a crazy idea. We'll never see Jesus. Doubt crept into Ethan's heart.

    "Excuse us, sorry, pardon." One step at a time they made their way to the home.

    People squeezed into the dwelling, stood shoulder to shoulder on the steps, and overflowed into the courtyard. Unable to enter through the front door, his friends didn't give up. Instead, they raised Ethan onto the roof.

    "Now what? We're up here and Jesus is in the house." Ethan leaned over the side of his bed and waved to the people below. At least I'm safe up here. I'd be crushed in the mob.

    Without a word, his pals started to remove the roof made of branches and a layer of mud plaster.

    Before Ethan had a chance to react, they began to lower him into the center of the home. His bed came to rest at the feet of Jesus.

    Jesus paused in his message and directed his attention to Ethan. Without hesitation, he spoke, "Your sins are forgiven. Take up your bed and walk."

    Ethan stood, picked up his bed and raised it over his head for all to see. He led a small procession out of the home and down the streets of Capernaum.

    Ethan hadn't expected to be healed, nor realized he needed forgiveness.

    Through God's grace, his sins were forgiven. And, because of His mercy, Ethan was healed. Where anger and blame dwelt, Christ's peace now resided and joy filled Ethan's heart.

    I need more friends like Ethan's. Unable to walk on his own, their faith lifted him up and carried him. They knew Jesus possessed the answers to Ethan's brokenness.

    I endeavor to surround myself with people who inspire and lift me up when I'm down. Individuals who go the extra mile, do the unexpected and build my faith. Then I strive to be such a friend.

    A good deed does not come without obstacles. But, the reward is greater than the effort as the results overflow into the hearts and lives of family and friends.

    "A man that has friends must show himself friendly; and there is a friend that sticks closer than a brother." - Proverbs 18:24.

    Because of Jesus, salvation and healing are provided to all who believe.

    I love you, but Jesus loves you more.


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