The Bible is full of instances in which people with disabilities interact with Jesus. One such instance is in Luke 5:17-26. In this passage, Jesus heals a paralyzed man, brought to Him by his friends’ courageous efforts. The passage explains, “And behold, some men were bringing on a bed a man who was paralyzed, and they were seeking to bring him in and lay him before Jesus” (Luke 5:18). The paralyzed man’s friends were determined to get him in front of Jesus, to lay him before His feet. However, there was “no way to bring him in, because of the crowd,” so “they went up on the roof and let him down with his bed through the tiles into the midst before Jesus” (Luke 5: 19). These faithful friends did not give up. It would have been easy to arrive at the house where Jesus was and leave in despair after seeing how full the room was. Instead, they made a way for their friend. He could not advocate for himself by pushing through the crowds and insisting that Jesus see him. He was totally reliant on his friends to get him where he needed to go, and they took that job seriously.
Oftentimes it can be easy to overlook ways to help people with disabilities around us. It can be hard to know how best to help, or even what kind of help is needed. However, placing someone before the feet of Jesus can be as simple as praying for one of their prayer requests or giving them a ride to church. Last year, my mom and I agreed to give a 39-year old woman with a cognitive disability a ride to church each week. We did not know her before COVID hit, but our church paired people up within the special needs ministry to encourage one another during lockdown and quarantine. We bonded with her over phone calls and care packages before finally meeting in person to drive to church. Those twenty-minute car rides to and from the house where she lived were filled with joy and laughter as we grew closer to her and encouraged each other. Our friend could not contain her excitement to go to church, pushing through sore ankles and an intensely painful back. She read the Scripture in front of the church one Sunday in December, and although her reading was stilted, it was a beautiful, joyful sound of worship to the Lord and to the church congregation.
Placing our friend at the feet of Jesus to receive the gospel took about forty extra minutes on Sundays. Waking up earlier in order to pick her up was a sacrifice, but loving someone well always requires an element of sacrifice. A couple of weeks into carpooling, we stopped by Starbucks, which also became a tradition. My mom treated our friend and me to drinks, and we enjoyed them on the way back to her home. Our friend always felt that church was not long enough – I think she could have stayed in the sanctuary, drinking in the love of Christ, all day if we had let her! It was clear that she wanted to be at church every week, and facilitating that was something the Lord smiled on. She was given wonderful opportunities to serve our church and be included. Because she could not drive herself, she needed a little bit of extra help to get there, and God enabled us to support her by driving her week after week. This week, think of ways in which you could bring others, disabled or not, to the throne of Christ to rest at His feet. You could offer someone a ride to church, treat them to a drink or sit with someone who sits alone at church. You could tell someone about your church and their special needs ministry, or about disability resources that are gospel-centered. Christ calls us to bring one another to Him, and it is exciting to see the opportunities He gives us to do so.