The Friends Who Didn’t Give Up
A miracle in Capernaum
by Laurence Chilcott
Suitable for Whole School (Pri)
To consider that true friendship does not give up in the face of difficulties (SEAL theme: Relationships).
Preparation and materials
Friends are important to all of us. Often, our friends change as we grow older, but sometimes, we make friends in childhood who remain friends for the rest of our lives. We like friends who we can trust and rely on, and who won’t let us down; today’s story is about four friends who were just like that.
Jesus was in Capernaum and, as usual, there were crowds of people wanting to hear what he had to say. Some wanted to ask him questions; some went along hoping that he might make them well; others just went out of curiosity because they had heard so much about him.
Nearby, there was a man who had been struck down with a disease that paralysed him. He had become depressed and worried about the future because he knew that he would never be able to work again. Fortunately, he had four friends who persuaded him to let them take him to Jesus. The man hardly dared hope that he could be made better, but he had heard that Jesus had done some amazing things and he was touched by his friends’ offer. There were no wheelchairs or mobility scooters in those days, so the men picked up the mat on which the paralysed man was lying and, with one holding on to each corner, they walked into the town to find Jesus.
Unfortunately, when they got near the house where Jesus was, they saw that crowds of people had already gathered. In fact, there were so many people that some were left outside straining to hear what Jesus had to say. The men tried to push their way through the crowds, but they soon realized that it was useless trying to get in through the door.
Now some friends would have given up at that stage – and who could blame them? They’d tried their best, but they might as well go home: they couldn’t hang around for what might be hours in the heat of the day. Perhaps it was a waste of time anyway for they’d never seen Jesus perform any miracles.
But these friends didn’t give up; they had an idea. They couldn’t get in through the door, but why not try the roof? In Capernaum at this time, many houses had flat roofs with outside steps up to them, so that the owners could sleep on the roof when it was too hot inside the house during the summer. So up the steps the friends went, carrying the paralysed man with them. When they had reached the roof, they set about removing some of the clay roof tiles until they had made a hole big enough to lower the man through. The crowds had quite a surprise when the man was lowered down. Everybody waited to see what Jesus would do.
The first thing that happened was rather unexpected. Jesus was impressed by the faith of the man’s friends and he said to the man, ‘Your sins are forgiven.’ Now the friends did not take the man to Jesus to have his sins forgiven, so they might have been disappointed if it had ended there, but it didn’t. Some teachers of the law thought that Jesus was getting above himself and they protested, saying that only God can forgive sins.
However, realizing what the teachers were thinking, Jesus said, ‘I’ll show you that I have authority from God to forgive sins.’ Then, Jesus looked at the man and said, ‘Get up and walk.’ And there in front of everyone, the man stood on his own feet, rolled up the mat that he’d been lying on, tucked it under his arm and walked out of the house.
Everyone who witnessed it was amazed. This man, Jesus, had amazing power. The people had never seen anything like it and agreed that Jesus really was someone special.
Time for reflection
Ask the children what qualities they feel a good friend should have.
Listen to a range of responses.
Discuss the fact that sometimes, too much importance is placed on having a ‘best friend’. Emphasize the importance of sharing our friendships if we want to hold on to our friends.
Discuss the importance of being friendly if we want to make friends.
Thank you for our friends and all that they mean to us.
Help us to be a good friend to others.
Help us to look out for people who are lonely and are struggling to make friends.
Help us to be as friendly and forgiving as you are.