A Broken Roof
“ In the second chapter of Mark we read the interesting and instructive story of four men who brought a paralytic to the Lord Jesus Christ by breaking the roof of a house. Jesus had been teaching in a home in Capernaum. A great crowd soon assembled until they filled the house, and were crowded around the outside, making it impossible for anyone to get near the door to see and hear Him. But in Capernaum there was a man who, because of a sinful life, was afflicted with a dreadful disease. He was humanly speaking, hopeless. He could not walk. He had no means of getting to the Lord Jesus, but he did have four friends who were interested in him. The other folk had all flocked to hear the Lord Jesus for themselves, and had forgotten about the poor man who had no way of enjoying the same blessing. I fear that in these days there are many similar situations. There are many people who are so busy learning theology and feeding upon the blessed truth of the Lord Jesus Christ that they forget their duty toward the poor sinners round about who have never gazed in faith upon His blessed face.
Can you not see them coming down the dusty road? They had made an improvised ambulance, probably similar to a stretcher, and on this the poor fellow lay. But, as they came to the house, they found so many folk crowded around the Lord Jesus that there was no room to bring the poor sinner to Him. What a tragedy! There were so many people who wanted to hear teaching that there was no room for a poor sinner to come to Christ! We are living in a day similar to that, I fear. Amid all the divisions and separations among believers, both in and out of the denominations, we are so busy defending the Book and discussing fine points of doctrine that we have forgotten the greatest desire and commission of the Lord Jesus. That this interpretation is not incorrect is clearly borne out by the fact that Jesus immediately stopped teaching the crowd and applied Himself to the more important business of saving and healing this poor paralytic. Again the story emphasizes the need of our bringing men to Christ if they are ever going to come. The Lord has so ordered the plan of salvation that men and women are saved only as we bring them to the Lord. Man by nature is not sick. He is dead! He is impotent and as unable to find Christ without help as a dead man is to come forth from the grave.
Because four men were more interested in this poor man than they were in hearing Jesus, this fellow was saved. Humanly speaking, the poor man would have died in his sin and disease were it not for the interest these four men had in his condition.
God can make a bumper crop of wheat grow on the pavement of Fifth Avenue in New York City without help from man, but He has never done it, and He never will. God’s way of raising a crop of wheat depends upon man. It is only as the farmer plows and drags and sows and cares for his acre that the Lord gives the increase, though He is omnipotent and needs no help from man. So, too, it is in the spiritual realm. God could save every human being without the help or aid of His children, without a tract, a dollar or a missionary. But God does not do things that way. It is God’s plan that man will be saved only through the instrumentality of others. His commission is ‘Go ye, go ye, and preach the Gospel.’ ‘Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.’ God has given us the commission and placed at our disposal the only two necessities for soul-winning: the Word and the Holy Spirit, and if men are not saved, it will not be His fault, but ours, and our alone.
A broken roof was the only means of getting this man to the Lord Jesus. These men were in earnest. The matter was not a side issue with them; they forgot everything else in their eagerness to help the man. They could not get through the door. Evidently a window was not available, either. What could they do? Necessity is the mother of invention, so these men made their way to the roof and the friend was lifted; then they began to break the roof. Can you imagine the effect on the crowd? Can you no hear a grumbler demand that someone make ‘that bunch of maniacs quit disturbing the meeting’? But not a word from the Lord. He must have been pleased. Notice the conduct of Jesus. Not a word of surprise. Not a rebuke for breaking up a Bible class to save a soul. Not a word because the decorum of the meeting had been disturbed. But Mark tells us: ‘When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee.’ (Mark 2:5) Two words need special consideration here: ‘Their faith’. Not the sick man’s faith, but their faith. I know that men are saved by their own personal faith in Jesus Christ, and that you cannot be saved by my believing, and yet it is true as well that men and women are being lost because of our lack of faith. It is equally true that men do find Jesus through the faith of others. Men are perishing because we have not faith.
Oh, God, make us dead in earnest! Set us on fire! Help us to break up our homes if need be to bring this paralyzed, dying word to Christ. Many of us have pleasant roofs over our heads. With much labor we have made a comfortable place for ourselves while the world is perishing for lack of Christ. Oh, for a zeal that will make us willing to ‘tear up the roof’ and forget all false propriety and selfish endeavor to bring the message to those who never heard it! Think of Christ. It was He who said, ‘This is my body, which is broken for you.’ He had a home in heaven, but He left it all and came and dwelt as a man despised and rejected, a friend of sinners, and went all the way to Calvary to die that you might live.
Here is what is wrong with the Church. We have lost our vision of the reality of the terribleness of the condition of lost man. Sin is real! Hell is real! The danger is real! Yet too often we are more concerned about the roof over our heads than the foundation under our feet.
Oh, God, help us to break the roof of materialism and worldly interest and open up the house to heaven until the answer comes down! We are not in earnest as we should be. Oh, God, break our hearts for Thee! Grant us visions of Thy compassion for the souls of men!
How richly these men were repaid. While some might have thought that Jesus would surely reprimand them for their clumsiness, He honored their faith and not only forgave the man’s sin but healed his body. When the Church of Jesus Christ gets so dead in earnest that it is willing to leave its beautiful self-made ritual and refinements of architecture and external worship and stop its quibbling about doctrine and let the ‘zeal of the house eat it up,’ we shall have the greatest revival the Church has ever seen.”
-M. R. DeHaan (“Broken Things” p. 61-66)