You are probably familiar with Mark 2:1-12, because it is hard to forget a story about a guy getting lowered through a roof.
But maybe you haven’t thought about the story from Jesus’ perspective. He’s the one preaching to a full house when he starts to feel a few pieces of dirt brush his shoulder. Presumably he ignores it and resumes his task of sharing the good news of the kingdom of God. But when the first small stick brushes against his outstretched arm, he perhaps pauses and looks up to see four guys digging (and “digging” is the actual word in Greek, because the roof is composed of wooden beams and layers of dried mud and such) through the roof.
At this point, we might have expected his reaction to be something along the lines of, “People! I am trying to work here! Important work! Stop digging through the roof–you are distracting everyone from my sermon!”
Or maybe: ”You’re destroying the roof! Roofs cost a lot of money!”
Or maybe: ”What do you people think you are doing? There are people down here who are going to get hurt! Ouch! Was that a ROCK?”
But that’s not what Mark records. Mark tells us that Jesus saw their faith. That’s a funny way of putting things–we don’t normally think of faith as something you can see. But in this case, their actions–destructive and disruptive as they were–constituted evidence of their faith.
But let’s pause for a moment here and think about the utter unnecessary-ness of what they are doing. He’s Jesus, for heaven’s sake! He is perfectly capable of healing someone who isn’t in the room (See Mark 7). There is no reason whatsoever for these people to be lowering the poor dude through the roof. The most sensible objection for Jesus to make is that what they are doing is entirely unnecessary and based on a (false) understanding of the limitations of his powers. Their act might be evidence of faith, but it is also evidence of lack of faith–in Jesus’ ability to know that this guy needs healing and to heal him from a distance. Jesus should probably say something like, “Oh ye of little faith, why did you think you had to drag that poor guy through a roof? Didn’t you realize I could heal him from afar?”
But he doesn’t make that objection, either. He chooses to see their faith. He could have chosen to focus on something else, on the very obvious negatives, but he did not. I could perhaps make a connection here between what we choose to focus on when we have a choice (especially in light of the continuing issue, exemplified in today’s NY Times article, about modern faith struggles), but I want to say something else.
I love Jesus in this story. I love that he’s not yelling at me for getting dirt in his eye in my entirely unnecessary effort, an effort rooted in my lack of appreciation for how powerful he is, an effort that is distracting people from his work and destroying someone else’s house. He has chosen to focus on my faith instead. Thank you, Jesus.