The miracle story in Mark 2 is a powerful one. Jesus confounds his critics and confirms his divinity when he tells a paralyzed man to take his mat and walk home. Each time I read this story, I am struck by the humor—Jesus is teaching and all of a sudden, the roof opens up. The crowd that made it impossible for the men to get to Jesus apparently had no problem stepping aside to let him walk out. However, the most stunning element is the activity of the friends who carried the man to Jesus. I think there are three evangelism principles we can learn from these brave, unnamed individuals.
1. They had a plan
One part of this story that is easy to overlook is that four men were carrying a friend to Jesus. If you have ever tried to get four men to move ANYTHING, you know this is no small feat. Getting volunteers to help you move usually requires weeks of planning and free pizza.
Now I don’t want to over-spiritualize a part of the story that is not in the Bible, but I do think we must realize that if we’re going to introduce our friends to Jesus, we need a plan. Each friend is different, and every evangelism encounter is unique.
Have you ever asked yourself, “Why is my friend not a Christian?”
- Lack of Adequate Knowledge
- Bad Experience
- Rejecting Belief or Life Requirements
When we know why our friends are not Christians, we can have a plan for addressing their concerns. For example, if my friend has adequate knowledge of the gospel but doesn’t want to change his life, then his problem is not apologetic. If I dump a bunch of information on him, he may say, “I know, stop preaching to me.” He needs to see the error of his ways, the pain of sin, and the blessing of following Christ. My life and testimony become a vital part of the plan.
Think about those in your life who don’t know Jesus. Why are they still not believing? What is your plan for addressing their unique concerns?
2. They overcame a problem
As the friends approached the house, they realized they had a problem but refused to allow this problem to deter them. I imagine they tried ways to get through the door — after all, breaking someone’s house is usually not the first thing we think of doing! When that didn’t work, they climbed to the roof.
Evangelism always requires determination. Keep this in mind:
- It is always easier NOT to share Christ.
- It is more comfortable to stay silent
- There are always reasons why now isn’t the best time
- You always have something else you could be doing at the moment.
If we are going to bring our friends to Jesus, then we cannot give up too quickly. There will be times when the words flow freely, and our friend is engaged in the conversation. There will be other times when we will forget John 3:16, and it will feel as if the Holy Spirit has abandoned you (HINT: he hasn’t). But in every evangelistic encounter be prepared to overcome obstacles and press through. Trust the Lord to use your efforts to accomplish his will.
3. They understood their role
Without the help of his friends, the paralyzed man was hopeless. We don’t know much about his physical condition, but we know that he could do nothing to get to Jesus. It is evident that these men loved their friend. They wanted him to be get up and walk, but his healing was not within their power. They needed to get him to Jesus.
The Bible teaches us that God is not willing that any should perish, but all come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Tim 2:4) and that anyone who calls on the name of the Lord can be saved (Romans 10:13). However, God’s plan for salvation always requires an evangel, a person who presents the gospel and leads the person to Christ. Your role is to share Christ with your unbelieving friends, not to be their savior.
“How, then, can they call on him they have not believed in? And how can they believe without hearing about him? And how can they hear without a preacher?” (Romans 10:14).
Our unbelieving friends are like the paralyzed man in this story. Left to themselves, they are unable to get to Jesus. Before we can bring our friends to Jesus, we need to settle the fact in our hearts and minds that if we do not bring them, they will likely not find him.