Commentary: A friend worth having will carry people to Jesus, despite the obstacles


Mark 2:1-5 provides a powerful account of being a friend worth having to carry people to Jesus. This passage describes a paralytic man being carried by four of his friends to Jesus, unable to reach Him on his own. Knowing their friend needed to get to Jesus, these four friends leaped into action, grabbed a corner of a mat, and carried him to Jesus. When they couldn’t get through the crowd, they did not give up; they made a way, knowing eternity was in the balance. They removed part of the roof above where Jesus spoke and lowered the man. Struck by their faith, Jesus not only heals the man physically but forgives his sins, and he receives the gift of eternal life. Their team effort highlights the impact of determined, faithful, and intentional friendships. 

This passage raises a crucial question: how can we, as believers, carry others to Jesus, overcoming barriers that might stand in the way? Here are some obstacles that keep people from reaching Jesus and practical ways we can help navigate these challenges: 

Doubt and Skepticism 

Skepticism can harden hearts and cloud judgments in an age of information overload. Millions in Georgia struggle with doubts about God's existence or the Bible's truth. To be a friend worth having, we have to listen empathetically, share personal testimonies, and encourage open conversation about the gospel. Inviting friends to church or small groups where questions are welcomed can demystify misconceptions about Christianity and initiate a disciple-making relationship. Remember, people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. 

Past Hurts 

As heartbreaking as it is, many Georgians are wounded by past experiences with religion. Healing these wounds starts with acknowledging their pain and showing them a different, more loving, and authentic version of the Christian community. Being God’s love to others, as described in 1 John 4, gives a face to the healing and restorative nature of a relationship with Christ. 

Cultural Barriers 

Cultural misunderstandings can prevent people from hearing or seeing Jesus. This could be due to language differences, socioeconomic divides, racial tensions, or even accidental misunderstandings. Building bridges across these divides requires humility and a willingness to learn from others whose experiences differ from ours. Hosting multicultural events and fostering inclusive communities within our churches can help break down these barriers, showing the power of Christ's message. 

Lack of Awareness 

Some people simply haven’t been exposed to Jesus's teachings in a meaningful way. They might live in secular environments or communities where Christianity is misunderstood or rarely discussed. We can carry these friends to Jesus by sharing the core messages of love, redemption, and grace in the gospel. Inviting them to service projects and community events connected to Georgia Baptist churches can be a non-threatening introduction to a life in Christ. 


In a society with rampant apathy, indifference towards spiritual matters can be a hurdle. This often comes from a deeper search for meaning and purpose, masked by a superficial disinterest. Engaging in deep, personal conversations about life’s big questions can spark curiosity and interest. Demonstrating how Christ’s teachings apply to everyday life can help friends see the relevance of faith. 

To carry people to Jesus, we must be prepared to face costs. These could be time, money, misunderstanding from others, or even personal discomfort as we step out of our social circles. However, the story of the four friends lowering the paralytic through the roof teaches us that the rewards — healing, salvation, and deeper friendships — far outweigh these costs. 

As we attempt to carry others to Jesus, we must remember that our efforts are not in our power but in the Holy Spirit. The outcome is ultimately in God's hands; our job is to provide a pathway, just as the paralytic's friends did. Remember that it took a team of four on a journey to carry the paraplegic, and we need to be mindful that we are not alone in our efforts to share the gospel with a world far from God. Being a friend worth having means more than just a casual acquaintance; it involves a deep commitment to guiding others toward love, truth, and healing.  

Let us take encouragement from the four friends in Mark 2:1-5 and be relentless in bringing others to Christ, embodying the spirit of love and sacrifice that defines true discipleship. In doing so, we help others rise above their limitations and find ourselves drawn closer to the heart of Jesus. 


Dr. PJ Dunn serves the Georgia Baptist Mission Board as Discipleship consultant.