When he re-entered Capernaum some days later, a rumour spread that he was in somebody’s house. Such a large crowd collected that while he was giving them his message it was impossible even to get near the doorway. Meanwhile, a group of people arrived to see him, bringing with them a paralytic whom four of them were carrying. And when they found it was impossible to get near him because of the crowd, they removed the tiles from the roof over Jesus’ head and let down the paralytic’s bed through the opening. (JBP)
Repeatedly in the gospels, Jesus warns against drawing too much attention to himself. He doesn’t want to be overwhelmed with curious crowds. At the same time, he wants to share the good news with as many as possible. This episode highlights the dilemma he faced.
A crippled man had no hope of getting to Jesus with all those other people crowded around. The fact that he did get close and did get healed and did get forgiven was all down to his friends. They were not put off by the crowds. They showed great ingenuity by taking him up on the roof and making a hole through which he could be lowered.
We can imagine the surprise of those looking on and can perhaps even speculate about a knowing smile on the face of Jesus. And perhaps even spare a thought for the homeowner who now had to fix up his roof.
There is a time and place for what we might call blessed desperation. When there seems no hope, when circumstances seem impossible, when the cause seems lost, we can embrace desperation. Many of us have faced times when we need to take desperate measures to get help from either others or from God himself.
Desperation need not be a sign of despair but a mark of faith.
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