“And behold, some men were bringing on a bed a man who was paralyzed, and they were seeking to bring him in and lay him before Jesus, but finding no way to bring him in, because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down with his bed through the tiles into the midst before Jesus. And when he saw their faith, he said, ‘Man, your sins are forgiven you.’” Luke 5:18-20
What do you think of when you think of desperation? I remember getting a popcorn kernel stuck in one of my front teeth during a football game. I tried so hard to try to get it loose, but I just couldn’t. I mean, that baby was stuck. I looked at the shaker in my hand and had an idea. I went to the bathroom and used one of the little plastic strands to floss the popcorn kernel out of my teeth. I hope you don’t think less of me, my friends. Like I said. Desperation.
The desperation that I felt then was about a millionth of the desperation that the guy in Luke 5 was feeling. He literally couldn’t move without his friends carrying him. He was so desperate to be able to walk, and he knew that Jesus could make him better. In fact, he was so desperate that his friends pretty much took apart the roof. I think it’s safe to say that these guys didn’t care at all what people thought of them. They didn’t care about not rocking the boat. They didn’t care about seeming a little crazy, even. They were men on a mission.
When we think of rockstar followers of Jesus, we don’t think about people like the guy in this story. I know I don’t. I tend to think that, to be a rockstar follower of Jesus, you have to have your life together and do a bunch of Christiany things.
In Luke 5, that all gets broken to bits. This story isn’t noteworthy because the paralytic and his friends had their lives together and were doing a bunch of really cool things. This story is about a man who is deeply desperate and aware that he’s broken - literally, his body doesn’t work the way it should. He’s a rockstar follower of Jesus because he’s willing to abandon everything conventional, willing to tear apart a stranger’s roof even, just to see Jesus.
This story tells us that Jesus loves desperate people. He loves messy people; people whose lives are in shambles. Jesus loves people who realize their need for Him.
On the surface, my life doesn’t look much like the man in this story’s life, and yours probably doesn’t either. The brokenness that we’re dealing with is brokenness of the heart. Sin messed everything up, and the only one who can overcome that is Jesus. Until we understand our own desperation, our own brokenness, we can’t fully understand what Jesus has done for us.
Following Jesus isn’t about perfection - it’s about desperation. And more importantly, it’s about the One who runs to meet us in that desperation.