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On Emotional Whiplash


A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. They gathered in such large numbers that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them. Some men came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd …
- Mark 2:1-4a
What kind of emotional roller coaster do you think the friends of the paralytic must have been on during this adventure?
Tick, tick, tick … up they’d ride feeling hope inside their hearts as their journey started. Maybe they’ve heard stories about Jesus’ healing power. Maybe they’re already starting to plan the party they’ll throw once Jesus changes everything in their friendship circles.
Then it all grinds to a halt. The crowd blocks the way to get to Jesus. A crushing blow.
Have you ever experienced this kind of emotional whiplash?
What we do in the face of emotional whiplash and deep disappointment makes all the difference in the world. We can fight. We can give up. Or we can get creative.
If we were in the situation of these friends, we would have just plowed through the crowd. We would shove and jab our elbows and hoot and holler until people got out of our way. The more we’d push, the more the crowd would push back. And our paralyzed friend’s safety would be put in jeopardy. How can we hold him up and throw punches?
Some of us, faced with an obstacle like this, would just give up. We’d put our friend down and join the crowd. Or we’d wait patiently for Jesus to finish his teaching and hope we still get to make the case for the healing of our friend. Would that be better than what ended up happening?
The friends in today’s passage decided to be creative (well … creatively destructive). Their solution would have been unusual, surprising, and risky. Creative is not necessarily socially acceptable, easy, and safe. But sometimes, that’s what friendship requires.
What are some creative responses you’ve taken to the emotional whiplash that comes your way in friendship? How might you be creative to help a friend this week?


That's a great question, Jan.

The paralyzed man still had to make a choice to engage with Jesus, getting up off the mat when Jesus invited him to stand. We can't make that decision for others.

What that means for you friends? I'm not sure. But you can continue to be open about your relationship with Jesus and to see if at some point something sparks in them to generate an interest. What do you think?

What if the paralyzed man was a cynic and had no interest in seeing Jesus, even with his friends' ardent insistence? This is the case with some of my friends. They admit their lives aren't perfect but have no interest in hearing about a "mythical" itinerant Jewish rabbi from 2000 years ago. They respect and do not mock my beliefs but they pointedly expect me to accept their "beliefs." Would the friends have been justified in delivering the man anyway?

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