by David Sisler

It's an old Swedish proverb: Don't throw away the old bucket until you know whether the new one holds water.

Four men one day decided to throw away the old bucket. They had a friend who could not walk. Whether his immobility was caused by an accident, disease, or birth defect we do not know. Neither do we know how long he had been paralyzed. In fact, we don't even know his name. We do know that he had friends who were willing to take personal risk to try to help him.

One day Jesus attracted such a large crowd that the house where He was staying was filled with visitors. They were hanging through the doors and windows, trying to see Jesus. At that point we meet the four men with the paralyzed friend.

They could not reach Jesus. The crowd simply would not let them through. So, using the stairs that were on the outside of house, they climbed to the roof.

Probably to the amazement of all the onlookers, certainly to the horror of the home owner, they tore off a large portion of the roof, attached ropes to each corner of their friend's bed, and lowered him into the room.

Then they threw away the old bucket. Actually the Bible does not say what the friends did at that point, but it does say, "Jesus saw their faith."

Climbing the stairs to the roof, or tearing tiles off of the roof demonstrates zeal, even compassion, but not faith.

Logic indicates that the men simply let go of the ropes. The old bucket, their friend's infirmity and all previous attempts to cure him, was discarded. The new bucket, the chance that Jesus could make a difference, was a demonstration of faith.

They had carried him as far as they were going to carry him. If he walked out, it would be because of Jesus.

One of the most exciting acts in a circus is the acrobats performing without a safety net. Outside of the Big Top, few of us take the risk of removing the net. We want something of security to fall back on. We rarely do anything with "no strings attached." We may eventually use the new bucket, but we'll keep the old one around, just in case.

Those four friends threw away the old bucket. They let go of the ropes. They presented the paralytic to Jesus with no strings attached.

When Jesus saw their faith He did something that was totally unexpected. He did not say, "Rise up and walk." Instead Jesus said, "Son, your sins are forgiven."

Some of the teachers of the law began to grumble, "That is blasphemy. Only God can forgive sins."

Jesus said, "You think it is easier to heal than to forgive sins. So you will know who I am, observe God's grace in action."

He turned to the paralytic and said, "Take up your bed, roll up your mat, and walk home."

Immediately the man got up, and in full view of all who were present, walked out. The people who saw it were amazed and said, "We have never seen anything like this!"

They were amazed, but they were not converted. In fact, on another occasion, Jesus said to the citizens of Capernaum, "If the things I have done here had been performed in Sodom, Sodom would have repented. You have not!"

They kept the old bucket, just in case. They held onto their old manner of living. They never allowed Jesus to do any more than amaze them. They never let go of the rope holding their own lives so that He could change their hearts.

Granted, they did not know Jesus like we do. They had not yet seen His death or His resurrection. But you have. Are you still holding on to the ropes? Isn't it time you deal with Jesus with no strings attached, and throw away the old bucket? You need to use a new bucket. A bucket called faith.


Copyright 2002 by David Sisler. All Rights Reserved.

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