καὶ ἰδὼν ὁ Ἰησοῦς τὴν πίστιν αὐτῶν λέγει τῷ παραλυτικῷ· Τέκνον, ἀφίενταί σου αἱ ἁμαρτίαι

And Jesus having observed their faith said to the paralytic,“Child, your sins are forgiven.”   (Mark 2:5)

τὴν πίστιν αὐτῶν is literally “the faith of them” --

I’m trying to visualize the scene--  

Four of us are using a stretcher to carry a friend to Jesus.  The four of us have faith in Jesus, we believe that he has the power to heal our friend even though our friend does not share our faith.

Our friend is wasting away, so he doesn’t weigh much, but it’s been a long walk.  The strain of moving forward while bearing the weight of another registers in my arms, legs, and back.  I feel light-headed, but I don’t want to stop and rest.  I want to reach our destination, and I know it’s close.  

I glance down at my friend and give him a reassuring smile.   I know it’s going to be okay.  Everything will work out.  My friend will see.  He’s going to be fine.

We draw near to the house where Jesus has been staying and see that a crowd has arrived ahead of us.  With so many people blocking the door and windows, there’s no easy way to get our friend inside the dwelling.

Our friend takes one look at the crowd and asks us to take him home, but we aren’t ready to abandon our plan.  The group decides to go around back where no one is standing.  Two of us climb up on the roof, we push and pull the stretcher and get our friend up there, the remaining two join us, and together we make a hole in the roof.

We’ve made a mess, and know that later we’ll have to repair the damage.  Broken bits of thatching have fallen down on Jesus and his audience, which includes the region’s scribes.  There’s resentment and indignation on the faces looking up at us, all except for one.  Jesus looks expectant, as if he’s ready to see what we will do next.

We lower the stretcher down through the hole, trusting others in the audience to grab ahold of the handles and gently lower our friend to the ground.  We’ve taken him as far as we can.  We must have faith in those below us-- Jesus, his disciples, and his listeners.

We are not disappointed.  Others do step in and help.  The audience moves back, a space opens up, and the others place our friend in front of Jesus.  

I’m gazing through the hole, watching Jesus look up at us and then down at our friend.  I know that I’m right to trust Jesus.  He will heal my friend.

Jesus is saying something to our friend, now to the scribes, and now to our friend again.  From my vantage point, it’s hard to hear what’s being said inside the house.  I’ll ask my friend what Jesus was saying.

Yes, it’s happened!  My friend is standing!  He has picked up the stretcher and is carrying it out of the house!  The crowd is stunned and amazed by what has happened.  They part and let my friend pass by them as he exits the house.    The four of us scramble down to join him.  There are hugs all around and glad shouts of, “I knew it!” and “Didn’t I tell you!”

I beam at my now healthy friend, and I want to ask him if he has faith now.  I suspect that he still doesn’t, and that he’ll have a logical explanation for what has happened to him.  I’ll wait for a private moment to ask him what happened in the house, and what he thinks caused his cure.

I don’t need him to share my faith in Jesus.  That wasn’t the point of bringing him here.  The goal was to get him walking again, and that goal has been achieved.  

I am grateful to Jesus for this miracle, and I feel such gratitude for the three friends who worked with me to bring our friend here, and for the strangers inside the house who helped us.  The five of us remain near the back of the crowd, trying to overhear what Jesus is saying now, waiting to approach the homeowner and tell him that we will fix his roof.