Thursday, October 28, 2010

Cutting Holes...

(photo from
I used to hate doing it. When someone would call me and say, "I've got a spot on my roof that needs to be fixed" I knew what it was going to mean. I was a contractor, and calls like that were common. I'd load my ladder in the truck, head to the house, climb up and assess the situation. Sometimes, it was as simple as taking my flat-bar, sliding it under a couple shingles, popping a few nails loose, sliding a new shingle in, and nailing it all back down.

Sometimes, however, I'd get on the roof and see immediately that this was going to be big. The shingles would have to be taken of, I'd have to get the saw out and cut a hole in the roof decking, nail in more supports, replace the decking, replace the shingles, and say a little prayer that we didn't get a blowing rain until they had sealed. Those kinds of jobs were an all day deal. It was dirty, hard on the hands, and made my back scream.

I'm not the only one that has ever had to cut a hole in a roof, though. Mark's gospel has a great story about a hole in a roof. You see, Jesus couldn't go anywhere now because the stories of what he was doing had gotten out into the community. Everywhere he went crowds surrounded him. People were bringing their sick family members, and those that were demon possessed. Each one of them hoping to get close enough that Jesus could heal them.

I can imagine the scene, and I'm guessing that the folks crowding around Jesus the closest were the disciples, those who had decided to sign up as followers. Now, I don't know that for a fact, but I can imagine that would be the case. Then, further back in the crowd were the ones looking for healing, and maybe behind them, hanging back a bit, were those who were just curious. There had to be some kind of heirarchy, even in that group.

Then, maybe entering from stage right, come four guys carrying another guy on some kind of litter, a stretcher. They've heard about this guy Jesus and care enough about their friend to get in touch with each other, meet at his house, pick him up, and carry him to where Jesus is. Imagine the way their hearts must have sank when they saw the obstacles keeping them from him. The crowd was huge! There was no way they would be able to get their buddy close enough for Jesus to even know he was there, much less heal him...but then they saw their way in.

They might have known whose house it was, but they might not have. They knew that if they could open up a big enough hole in the roof, they could drop him down right in front of the Master. It was brilliant! Except for the fact that it wasn't their house, nor was it their roof, and scripture doesn't say who went back and patched the roof.

This story has gotten me thinking this morning. What lengths are we willing to go to in order to get someone to Christ? There are so many obstacles in their way, even today. Oh, we don't notice the obstacles anymore, because to us, they're not obstacles...but to someone on the edge of the crowd, scanning the scene, looking for a way in, these obstacles might as well be as tall as the roof of a house. What are they? You know what I'm going to traditions, church dress, church image, "that's my pew" mentality, "we've never done it that way before" kind of thinking, and the list goes on and on. Anything that we are doing, which prevents someone from feeling comfortable enough to approach Christ, should be reconsidered.

I wish Mark had given us more details. We know that Jesus noticed the lengths these guys went to so that their friend could be brought to the Great Physician. I wonder if he looked up above his head, saw what was going on, stopped what he was doing, and just grinned. You know it had to make him smile. He must have been tickled that these guys didn't care what it took, or what it cost them. Their friend was going to get to Mark does give us one tiny little hint.

"When Jesus saw THEIR faith, he said to the paralytic, 'Son, your sins are forgiven.'" Then, when the folks in the crowd got on to him for it, he took it a step further and said, "Get up, take up your mat, and go home." And then the guy walked right through the crowd. That, my friends, is the power of the gospel for those who can get close enough to hear it.

I would cut a hole in a roof without batting an eye.


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