Showing friendship (Matthew 9:1-8)

Having delivered the two demoniacs in Gadara Jesus returned across the sea to Capernaum, here called his own city. It is the case that the people of Capernaum in general did not heed the message of Jesus. Yet there were exceptions, and the story of one of them is told here by Matthew.

This man had four friends who were convinced that Jesus would help. I would stress the ‘would’ rather than ‘could’. If it was only at the level of ‘could’, it would only have been an opinion on their part. But they showed it was ‘would’ by taking him to Jesus to solve the problem. Why were four of them involved? Maybe it was because four were needed to carry the stretcher. Or maybe it was because each of them wanted to be involved. I would choose the latter option.

Their response is a picture of what every believer should be doing. No doubt, every believer can be placed in the category of those who believe that Jesus ‘could’ help sinners. Yet that may only be a correct theological opinion. It would be better to become ‘would’ persons, convinced that Jesus can help those in need. How will we know that we are ‘would’ rather than ‘could’? By taking the gospel to people.

Of course, the four men would have encouraged one another as they shared the task of carrying their friend to Jesus. They could have said simple things like ‘it is not far to his house’. Perhaps they spoke to one another or to their friend about others whom Jesus had helped in different ways. After all, he had helped many in Capernaum already. There are lots of possible things that they could have spoken about.

In this, they would be a picture for us as we get involved in taking, in a spiritual manner, a needy person to Jesus. For example, four (or another number) could agree to pray about an unconverted person they know and bring him to Jesus in that way. During the process of carrying him, they could remind one another of other people whom Jesus helped. It is very important to be involved in bringing people to Jesus. After all, it is a way of showing true friendship.

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