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LUKE 5:17-26

Pastor Stephen Muncherian
April 29, 2007

Please turn with me to Luke 5 - starting at verse 17.

There’s a story about a husband who came home from work.  As he pulled his car into the driveway he had to avoid
driving over 2 bicycles and a doll stroller.  When he got into the house, it was chaos - toys all over the place - on the floor - the furniture - piles of clothes laying around.

Trying to avoid dealing with the chaos - he headed into the kitchen for a small snack
- expecting to find the snack his wife usually had prepared for him and dinner cooking on the stove.  Instead he found the breakfast dishes still on the table and the sink full of unwashed dishes.  Needless to say dinner wasn’t cooking.  There was no snack.

As he headed up stairs
in search of his wife - he was nearly knocked over by his 5 screaming kids running down the stairs - in various states of undress.  Finally, after making his way past more laundry - more toys - and several new drawings on the walls - all done in permanent ink - he encountered his wife - half asleep in bed.

By this time the husband was really frustrated and angry - so he yelled out,
“What have you been doing all day?”

To which his wife answered,
“Every day you come home and ask me what I did all day.  Well, today I didn’t do it.”

Partnership - or lack of it - the partnership of a husband and wife. 

Its amazing to consider that Jesus - the God of all creation - Savior of mankind - should involve us in His ministry.  God gives us the awesome privilege of working with Him as He works in human history - works to bring humankind into a restored relationship with Him.

Coming to Luke 5 - thinking about dedicating this building - to God and His ministry - we want take the opportunity to focus on the
partnership that Jesus gives to us in His ministry.

Luke 5 - starting at verse 17: 
One day He - Jesus - was teaching; and there were some Pharisees and teachers of the law sitting there, who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem; and the power of the Lord was present for Him to perform healing.  And some men were carrying on a bed a man who was paralyzed; and they were trying to bring him in and to set him down in front of Him.  But not finding any way to bring him in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down through the tiles with his stretcher, into the middle of the crowd, in front of Jesus.   

Let’s pause there.  This is a pretty familiar scene.  So let’s touch on a few details just to get them fresh in our minds.

Jesus has been traveling around Galilee
.  He comes back to Capernaum - up on the north shore of the Sea of Galilee - probably to the home of Peter and Andrew - which was kind of a base-of-operations for Him.

hen people found out that He was back they all showed up - everyone - His friends - His supporters - people hoping to see a miracle - His enemies - the Pharisees and the teachers of the law - also known as scribes - the respected theologians and religious teachers of the day.  They all crowded into this house.

Point being, the placed was packed.  The Pharisees - the scribes - are given places of respect - seats up front.  Everyone else is packed into the house like sardines.  The doorway is filled with people.  People are peering in the windows.  The crowd is spilling into the street.  People outside are trying to hear what’s going on inside.  People inside are just trying to breathe.  Jesus is in the middle of all this - teaching.  Then there are the four men carrying a paralyzed man on a bed.

A typical Palestinian house at that time was a small one-room place with a flat roof.  The roof was made of wooden beams with tiles set between them - then thatch and earth were placed over them.
  There’s this noise on the roof - a kind of tearing and scraping.  Little pieces of dust start falling on Jesus.  Then little chunks of stuff start coming down.

Wouldn’t you have liked to have been there - to see this first hand?

Imagine Peter - if this was his house - Peter the burley - rough - fisherman - can you imagine him standing there stressing trying to figure out what to do? 
“God is here in my living room talking to people and someone’s tearing my roof apart.  Do I just stand here and act spiritual or go up on the roof and punch somebody’s lights out.”

Whole sections of roof start coming down.  T
he crowd is trying to move back away from the shower of debris.  Then the whole ceiling just gives way.

a hole in the ceiling - four heads peek over the edge.  Jesus and everyone else are looking up at the faces in the hole.  Then a man on a bed is lowered down.  Jesus looks at this man lying on the bed - with expectation looking at Jesus.  He sees his four friends on the roof - with pleading eyes - peering down through the hole. 

Are we together?  Think with me about the partnership that Jesus gives us in His m

A while back
I read about two ladies - both of whom were concert pianists - both of whom had had strokes.  One was paralyzed on the right side.  One was paralyzed on the left side.  So that neither of them could play the piano.  Somehow they found each other and began to play as partners.  One played the right hand part.  The other played the left hand part.

In ministry with Jesus there are two parts - two responsibilities.  On one hand there are the
parts of ministry that Jesus gives us the responsibility for.  On the other hand there are the things that Jesus deals with - His responsibility.

Luke 5:17-19 the focus is on what were responsible for.  In ministry with Jesus ITS OUR RESPONSIBILITY TO DEAL WITH THE SECONDARY ISSUES OF A PROBLEM.

Share that with at least two people around you: 
“We deal with the secondary issues.”

There are a number of secondary issues here - the physical need of the paralytic - the huge crowd -
transportation - and so on.

These four men were determined to carry the stretcher of their friend
.  They were determined to find the answers to each problem as it arose - finding the home - knowing where and how to cut the hole in the roof - then risking everything to lower their friend right in front of Jesus.

Proverbs 18:24 says,
“There are friends who pretend to be friends, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”

There are examples of this in Scripture:  David
and Jonathan and their special friendship and the ways in which they encouraged, supported, and loved each other - even in the face of death (1 Samuel 18). Aaron and Hur - and how they held up the arms of Moses in the defeat of the Amalakites (Exodus 17).  Paul and the young pastor Timothy (Galatians 6:2).  Peter and his disciple Mark (1 Peter 5:13).

partnership - be a friend that sticks closer than a brother - be a stretcher bearer - be the brother or sister in Christ - the person of encouragement and support who stands by the side of a friend no matter what the difficulty.  These are the secondary issues that Jesus gives us responsibility for.

Let’s go one step further.

All of us have times in our lives when we’re
like that paralytic - laid out on a stretcher needing to be lifted up.  We don’t know when those times will come - we can’t schedule them - tap them into our Palm Pilot.  A death - illness - unemployment - situations at work or at home.  They come often without preparation and warning.  Suddenly there we are.

What destroys people - often with suicidal results - is when people find themselves on stretchers and they feel that no one cares
.  Theres no one there to carry their stretcher.  Times when its easy to give up on faith and God and life.  If there’s no one there to carry our stretcher - we’re on dangerous ground.

On your sermon notes - on the screen here - there are two pictures of stretchers - a bed with four handles.  Notice that the first picture has “me” written on the stretcher and blank spaces on the handles.  Put your name in the middle - “me” is you.   

Then think
about those handles.  If you were to put a name on each of those handles - the name of a brother or sister in Jesus who would carry your stretcher - who you could go to for help - or maybe you’ve relied on them in the past - who would they be?  Take time - today - tomorrow - to write in the names of those people.

Now, look at the picture of the second stretcher.  On one of the handles is a place for your name - “me” is you.  The other three handles are blank.

Have you ever tried to lift a loaded stretcher by yourself?  Pretty near impossible.  That’s not God’s design for the church.  A stretcher has four handles.  We get to lift together.  Share that with the person next to you.  “We lift together.”

Praise God for what He does through us as a congregation.  The Prayer Tree that Dee Thorne heads up - how many of you have been on the prayer tree being prayed for or sent out a prayer request?  The Benevolence ministry that Debbie Jones coordinates.  Many of you have been blessed through that ministry.  Mary Liz sending out cards on behalf of the church.  How many of you have gotten one of those cards?  People who provide meals.  Who help others move - provide transportation - fix things.  And we could go on naming stretcher bearers in this congregation.

Think about the names that can go on those handles - maybe individuals - people who can go with you as you visit - who pray with you about specific needs - who can serve with you in meeting those needs.  We lift together.

Imagine how the lives of those friends were changed by what happened that day. 
How would the paralytic remember his friends?  “They carried me to Jesus.”

Years later the
four would remember the day their friend’s life was changed forever.  They would remember the role they played - their part in that transformation.  You can hear them telling their grandchildren about it.  “I was there.  I carried the stretcher.  It was my saw we used to cut open the roof.” - the secondary issues.

ts our responsibility - our awesome privilege given by Jesus - to deal with the secondary issues of a problem.

Going on in
Luke 5 - starting with verse 20 - starting in verse 20 - the focus shifts to Jesus’ responsibility.  JESUS ALWAYS DEALS WITH THE MAIN ISSUE OF A PROBLEM.   

Say that with me, 
“Jesus deals with the main issue.”

Its important that we understand the main issue here.

20:  Seeing their faith - the trust that these four friends and the paralytic had in Jesus - He - Jesus - said, “Friend your sins are forgiven you.”

Now, if we think about it -
that’s a really strange thing to say.  At this point Jesus should have said something like, Thy paralysis is healed go thou in peace.”  But the physical problem is a secondary issue.

When Jarius’ daughter was dying - Jarius came to Jesus and pleaded with him,
“Please come! Heal her!  She’s dying!”  There’s an urgent physical need. (Mark 5:21 ff.)  When Lazarus was dying, his sisters sent word to Jesus, “Please come and help.  He’s dying!” - an urgent physical need. (John 11:1-44)

But in Capernaum that day the need was different.
  This wasn’t an urgent life and death situation.  If this man continued to be paralyzed tomorrow he’d still be alive.

The main issue here is not physical - its spiritual.  Jesus sees past the obvious to the real need of this man.
  The main issue here is sin - specifically the sin of the paralytic.

One wonders
- what burdens this man was carrying - bitterness - depression - despair - guilt?  What sins was he bound up in?  Reading the text we don’t know.  But Jesus knew.

Jesus is dealing with the main issue.

21:  The scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, “Who is this man who speaks such blasphemies?  Who can forgive sins, but God alone?

That is a great question.  Isn’t it?  W
hat right does Jesus have to say this?  Only God has the authority to forgive sins.

erse 22:  But Jesus, aware of their reasonings, answered and said to them, “Why are you reasoning in your hearts?  Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins have been forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk?’  But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins” - if you want a physical sign that I have the authority to deal with the spiritual needs of your life - He said to the paralytic, “I say to you, get up, and pick up your stretcher and go home.”  Immediately he got up before them, and picked up what he had been lying on, and went home glorifying God.  They were all struck with astonishment and began glorifying God; and they were filled with fear, saying, “We have seen remarkable things today.”

he whole point of the miracle is the physical demonstration of Jesus’ spiritual authority.  Jesus heals the paralytic physically to prove that He can heal the paralytic spiritually.

How incredible it must have been - overwhelming - for that paralytic man - walking out of that house - assured that his sins were forgiven - his life transformed forever.

something we need to see for ourselves.  Like the paralytic - like those who were there in the crowd - we need to realize what God has done for us - remarkable things.

The word “remarkable” is the Greek word “paradoxa” which is where we get the English?  “paradox” from.  A paradox is what?  when we have two things - both seem true - but they seem to contradict each other.  A paradox goes beyond the ability of our minds to sort it out.  In other words - what the crowd saw happening - went beyond their reasoning.

Stick with me.  “Paradoxa” - the Greek word - is actually two words put together.  “Para” meaning “from” - the source of something.  And - the second word - “doxa” -which is the word for “glory.”  As in the glory of God - God’s splendor - His reputation - what makes Him worthy of all honor and praise.

Putting all that together - what these people saw blew their minds.  The only possible explanation they had for the paradox - how can a man forgive sins - was that it was a God thing.  When it comes to the main issues of our lives - only God can deal with those.

God is passionate about forgiving our sin.  He’s come in the flesh.  He’s lived with us.  He’s died on the cross.  He’s alive.  Jesus has the authority to forgive sins.

We need to hear
His message this morning.  We’re all too aware of our failure - the things about us that we’d be ashamed if anyone knew.  We know about our sin and disobedience against God.  We want to be set free from guilt.  We need to know God’s power to heal us inwardly.  Jesus has the authority to meet our deepest needs - to change us inwardly - forever.

That’s the tremendous reality of what Jesus does when He deals with the main issues in our lives.

Grab onto this reality - the awesome partnership that God privileges us to be a part of.  God giving us the privilege of dealing with the secondary issues - while He deals with the main issues of our lives.  That’s amazing isn’t it?  The partnership that God allows us to be a part of.  Amen?

All of this partnership takes place in a house - a physical structure - a place of meeting and ministry - a specific location in Capernaum - where people knew they’d find Jesus.

Are we together on this?  The building we’re in - a physical structure - a place of meeting and ministry - a specific location in Merced.  A place where God privileges us to deal with secondary issues - caring for needs - leading people into a relationship with God - equipping them to serve Him - while Jesus deals with the main issues of our lives.  Partnership.  Are we together on the connection?

The house is a tool that Jesus uses to draw people into His teaching.  This building is what?  A tool - for Jesus to use - even allowing us the privilege of partnership.  A tool to be used - according to His will - for His glory.  We’re together on that?

There’s a huge challenge in all that for us today.

Inside the house are the Pharisees and teachers of the law.  Their main concern is about theological issues - legalities of God’s law - righteousness by works - even their own privileged authoritative position in the community.  They’re trying to trap Jesus.  Questioning His authority.  Reasoning from their own wisdom.

How easy it is for us as Christians to be so caught up in our own debates and dialogue - studies and words - spinning our wheels over fine points of theology and doctrine and styles of worship - talking “Christianeze” - while people are left outside on stretchers needing Jesus.

The crowd is trying to squeeze inside.  Jostling for position.  Trying to get a glimpse of Jesus.  Trying to hear what He has to say.  Fighting for the front row - interesting thought  That’s not necessarily a bad thing.  Is it?  They’re pressing forward to hear Jesus.

Not bad - except who’s excluded - left outside?  the paralytic.

Why was the crowd there?  Verse 17 says what?  Because the power to perform healing was there.  Always is with Jesus.

Jesus might perform a miracle.  They’re there for themselves - the entertainment factor.  Jesus - the “Israeli Idol.”  Maybe even for a little miracle in their lives.  Maybe to watch Jesus and the Pharisees go at it.  All facing inward with their backs to the those who need to come in.

How easy it is for us as Christians to spend our time an money on what benefits us - even spiritual stuff - going to seminars and reading books and attending Bible studies and Sunday School and services of worship - listening to Christian music - watching Christian TV - DVDs - studying the Christian life and evangelism and growing deeper in our walk with God - comparing churches and pastors and worship experiences - caught up in a wonderful Christian life - our Christian culture - pressing forward towards Jesus - while people outside these walls have no clue what it means to personally know Jesus as their Savior.

Most people
we rub shoulders with during the week really don’t care about our theology or what fellowship group we’re in or whether or not we’re part of a youth group or some kind of Bible study - even the awesomeness of this building.  What most people care about is seeing the love of Jesus Christ tangibly demonstrated by His church.  Right?  Seeing people that genuinely care about each other.  Seeing people who are willing to reach outside the walls of this building and pick up the stretchers laying around our community.

Question.  Would it be okay if Jesus broke a few roof tiles?  Took out a window or two?  Maybe even brought this whole building down?  What if God wanted to break a few tiles in your life?  If He really rocked your comfort zone?  If God decides to shove us out of our little boxes?  Move us forward into ministries that really stretched our faith and trust?

How we answer the question points out the attitude of our hearts.  Who we’re here for.  Who’s tool this is.  This building and ministry - including our very lives - need to be totally sacrificed - surrendered to God and left in His control - otherwise there is no partnership - and those who need Jesus are left outside.

Isn’t that what this afternoon’s dedication is all about?  Committing ourselves to His partnership using His tool according to His will for His glory.

It’s the paralytic outside the walls that’s important.  People around us are waiting for us to pick up their stretchers.



Recommended resources:
Buchanan, Mark.  "Wreck The Roof",
Leadership, Winter 2007
Slater, Michael.  Stretcher Bearers, Ventura, California, Regal Books, 1985


Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture taken from the New American Standard Bible®, © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by the Lockman Foundation.  Used by permission.