Pastor Stephen Muncherian
March 19, 2000
This morning we’re continuing our look at the early ministry of Jesus from the Gospel of Mark. I encourage you to turn with me to our passage for today - Mark 2:1-12. Today we’re focusing on the partnership, we have together, with Jesus, in His ministry.
There’s a story about a husband who came home from work. As he pulled his car into the driveway he had to avoid running 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 - he found the breakfast dishes still on the table and the sink full of unwashed dishes. Needless to say dinner wasn’t cooking and 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. Finally, after making his way past more laundry - more toys - and several new crayon drawings on the walls - 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.”
Obviously this story deals with the partnership of a husband and wife. I’d like to extend that just a little bit to our partnership - our working together. How can we, work together, with Jesus, in His ministry?
Mark 2:1-12: When He - Jesus - had come back to Capernaum several days afterward, it was heard that He was at home. And many were gathered together, so that there was no longer room, not ever near the door; and He was speaking the word to them.
Jesus has been traveling around Galilee - and he comes back to Capernaum to a home which was kind of a base-of-operations for Him. And when people found out that He was back they all showed up - everyone - His friends - His supporters - His enemies - people curious and hoping to see a miracle - and they all crowded into this house so that the crowd spilled out onto the street.
Verse 3: And they came, bringing to Him a paralytic, carried by four men. Being unable to get to Him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above Him; and when they had dug an opening, they let down the pallet - the stretcher - on which the paralytic was lying.
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.
Imagine this - a large crowd in a one room house - Jesus in the middle teaching - and then little pieces of the roof start falling on Jesus. First some dust - and then whole sections - the crowd is trying to move back from the shower of debris.
Finally there’s a hole in the roof and a man on a bed is lowered through the hole. Jesus looks at this man lying on the bed - and he sees his four friends on the roof peering down through the hole.
Verse 5: And Jesus seeing their faith said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”
I’d like to stop here and talk for a few minutes about our role in Jesus’ ministry.
I recently 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 things that Jesus deals with - His responsibility. On the other hand there are the parts of ministry that He gives us the responsibility for.
In Mark 2:1-5, the focus is on what we are responsible for. In ministry with Jesus ITS OUR RESPONSIBILITY TO DEAL WITH THE SECONDARY ISSUES OF A PROBLEM.
There are a number of secondary issues here - the physical need of the paralytic - the huge crowd - 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 - and 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.”
That’s our goal - 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 me put this in a more practical way.
All of us have times in our lives when we’re on a stretcher and need to be lifted up. We don’t know when those times will come - we can’t schedule them - pencil them in on our calendar. A death - illness - unemployment - situations at work or at home - they come often without preparation and warning - and 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 - or there is no one there to carry their stretcher - times when it is easy to give up on faith and God and life. If there’s no one there to carry your stretcher - you’re on dangerous ground.
Who is that brother or sister in Jesus who will carry us? Are we that brother or sister to someone else? Are we dealing with the issues that Jesus gives us responsibility for?
A stretcher has four handles. In your mind - 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 would they be? Do you think anyone here would put your name on one of those handles?
Let me encourage you to get in touch with these people. Follow through - tell them you believe in them as stretcher bearers. Let them know how much you appreciate their encouragement and support. Tell them what you heard in church today and how you thought of them.
We all have hard times - stretcher times - and we need to open ourselves and affirm those who can support and encourage us. Can you imagine the bond that will be developed when you reach out and tell someone you know that he or she is a person who cares about you.
Going on in Mark 2 - starting with verse 5 - the focus shifts to what Jesus deals with in His ministry. Its our responsibility to deal with the secondary issues of a problem. JESUS ALWAYS DEALS WITH THE MAIN ISSUE OF A PROBLEM.
The main issue here is sin - specifically the sin of the paralytic.
Verse 5: “When Jesus saw their faith” - the trust that these four friends of the paralytic had in Jesus - then Jesus says to the paralytic - “My son, your sins are forgiven.”
Now, if we think about it - this was a really strange thing to say. Jesus should have said something like, “Your paralysis is healed go 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.
One wonders what burdens this man was carrying - bitterness - depression - despair - guilt. From reading the text we don’t know. But Jesus knew.
Jesus is dealing with the main issue.
Verse 6: But some of the scribes - some of the religious teachers - the local theologians - were sitting there and reasoning in their hearts, “Why does this man speak this way? He is blaspheming; who can forgive sins but God alone?”
Good question - what right does Jesus have to say this? Only God has the authority to forgive sins.
Verse 8: Immediately Jesus aware in His spirit that they were reasoning that way within themselves, said to them, “Why are you reasoning about these things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven’; or to say, ‘Get up, and pick up your pallet 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 need of your lives - He said to the paralytic, “I say to you, get up, pick up your pallet and go home.” And he got up and immediately picked up the pallet and went out in the sight of everyone, so that they were all amazed and were glorifying God, saying, “We never have seen anything like this.”
The bottom line here 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.
This is something that 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. 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 this 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.
Which brings us back to the partnership, we have together, in Jesus’ ministry.
Imagine how the lives of those four friends were changed by what happened that day. Years later they would have remembered 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.
There is no greater thing that we can do for someone than to bring them to Jesus. There is no greater experience in life - no greater joy - than being used by God - to be there as He brings someone to salvation in Jesus Christ.