The house was so crowded that no one was able to get near. Friends of a paralytic man took extraordinary measures in order that their friend would have opportunity to be healed by Jesus. Given the construction of homes in the first century, these friends of the paralytic man would have literally dug through the dirt and sod roof. Only then could they lower their friend into the home through a gaping hole the ceiling. The paralytic man contributed nothing to his healing; it happened because of the faith of others. Seeing the faith of this man’s friends, Jesus had compassion, forgave his sins and healed him.
As we hear these words from Holy Scripture, we can begin to better understand the role of the faithful as we bring infants and the unchurched to the waters of baptism. The Holy Spirit works through the preaching of the gospel and the faith of others in order that those who cannot come to Christ for forgiveness might be saved. Through our faith we “carry” infants and others who cannot come to Jesus by their own ability. In this way, Jesus is made known to those seeking God’s promise of salvation.
Spiritually carrying others to Christ is our Christian calling. It’s worth noting that people who live in faith do so because, through faith, someone else has “carried them” to Jesus. As we continue to preach the gospel, teach all Christ commanded and baptize in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Jesus himself pronounces the forgiveness of sin and the promise of everlasting life. Freed from the burden of sin, the newly baptized are strengthened in faith by the power of the Holy Spirit so they too might spiritually carry others to Christ.
Finally, as earthly lives come to an end, we have the instance when we also dig through the sod and dirt like the friends of the paralytic. Upon the death of a loved one, we break the ground and lower our friends into the earth, commending them to our Lord and Savior. By faith we understand that death is not the final outcome, but life in God’s eternal kingdom. Through the faith of others we come to Jesus. By God’s grace through faith in Christ we are saved.