In preparation for street ministry I am drawn to the book of Luke and have been slowly reading through it these past few weeks. When I am not distracted but focused on His word I receive great joy and understanding and I draw closer to Him.

Luke chapter 5, verses 17-20:

17And it came to pass on a certain day, as He was teaching,
that there were Pharisees and doctors of the law sitting by, which were come out of every town of Galilee, and Judaea, and Jerusalem: and the power of the Lord was present to heal them.

18And, behold, men brought in a bed a man which was taken with a palsy: and they sought means to bring him in, and to lay him before Him.

19And when they could not find by what way they might bring him in because of the multitude, they went upon the housetop, and let him down through the tiling with his couch into the midst before Jesus.

20And when He saw their faith, He said unto him, “Man, thy sins are forgiven thee.”

Although I have read this chapter several times before, this time around I paused at these verses. Considering, perhaps for the first time, the level of faith displayed here. The men were in the same vicinity as Jesus, but were unable to get close to Him because of the crowds of people. The multitude, or in other words the obstacle they faced, did not dampen their desire to draw nearer to Christ; in fact it seemed to make them even more determined (verse 19).

The word ‘find’ (verse 19) means “to discover after a deliberate search”, so the bible tells us that upon meeting a problem in getting closer to Jesus instead of resigning themselves to the problem the men persisted. In their persistence they took it upon themselves to lift a fully grown man in his bed onto the rooftop of a house, then lower this man (bed and all!) into the middle of the crowd and before Jesus. That takes courage, but ultimately it takes faith – faith in the one they were seeking to draw near to, so that He could bring healing and restoration* to the one they carried. Even Jesus, upon witnessing their faith and the faith of the one who was sick, was compelled to respond (verse 20). Whilst reading these verses I began to think about my own desire to draw nearer to Jesus and the effort I put into making that happen.

Verses 17-20 do not tell us if the man with palsy was related to any of the men who carried him, if they were friends or even how well they knew him. It is clear to me, the relationship between the able-bodied men and the man who was sick had no bearing on their compassion toward him, their desire to have him draw nearer to Jesus and their faith that Jesus could heal him.

Let us not forget that on this occasion the drawing closer to Jesus was not for the benefit of those carrying but for the one being carried and their tremendous compassion for the benefit of another resulted in complete healing and restoration, and an outpouring of faith.

Acknowledging this I asked myself the following questions:

  1. Do I, as part of the body of Christ, have such compassion for people I may encounter during street ministry or on my day-to-day travels?
  2. Do we as the body of Christ have such compassion toward those who are in need of His healing (spiritually and physically)?

Right now, the answer to both questions fluctuates between yes and no. So I am praying for a time when, on a daily basis, I can undoubtedly say yes to both.

*I say restoration because verse 18 says ‘a man which was taken with a palsy’, which implies this was something that came upon him and not something that he was born with.

Image by Eularia Clarke