Like a group of Chicken Littles, the people in the room that day kept feeling their heads and glancing up at the ceiling. Was the roof falling in? Crumbled pieces of clay and plant matter flecked their hair. But Jesus was speaking, and there were more important things to worry about. The room was packed and stuffy- you could smell who was to your right or left.
Outside the building, the crowd craned their necks and tried to glance through windows. The door was a solid mass of heads and shoulders, pressing to hear his words.
Jesus was speaking.
Farther back, a group of men on the street were watching as four young men hoisted and dragged another up to the roof. The man they carried was barely old enough to be considered an adult. He was the youngest, and he was paralyzed from a type of palsy that had afflicted him since birth.
The cousins talked among themselves. What they were doing was risky. Fortunately, no one stopped them because no one wanted to take their eyes off of Jesus or miss their chance to press in closer.
They hadn’t told anyone their plan. They never meant to be contemplating this act of vandalism. But Jesus was inaccessible, and this was their only chance. Maybe they had a history of being known as impulsive trouble makers, maybe these guys didn’t have much to lose.
Maybe family meant everything to them.
They began work quickly. Hauling their supplies to the roof. Testing for weak spots that could prove deadly if broken through. It didn’t take long before they were sawing through the sun baked clay. A few people exclaimed periodically, but no one tried to stop them.
Lifting piece after piece out of the way, the men could see Jesus glance at them occasionally. He never said a word in judgment or reproach. Their minds were on healing. Their thoughts were on making their cousin whole. A strong man who could support a family. They knew he deserved it. His life shouldn’t be this way. They knew Jesus could heal him.
They lowered him down.
And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”
Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, “Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?”
And immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to them, “Why do you question these things in your hearts?Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk’?But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the paralytic— “I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.”
And he rose and immediately picked up his bed and went out before them all, so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!” – Mark 2:5-12
Why did Jesus choose to put that first — the forgiveness of sin before the healing? The eternal before the temporary? Should we aim to think the same way?
That day, their sky fell like the pieces of roof that had so easily crumbled. Their efforts brought them not just to Jesus the man, but to the Son of Man, the Son of God. And heaven was opened wide.