The Paralytic Transformed

Series: When Love Comes to Town

February 24, 2019 | Taylor Rutland
Passage: Mark 2:1-12

How is your 4 the City Emphasis coming? Are you faithfully praying for your 4? We have posted a resource for you to read on the FBNO Facebook page. I have also included it on my personal twitter account as well.  I talked with a person just last week who is participating in our emphasis. He has had kind of an estranged relationship with a family member for some years, and through this emphasis God has convicted him to reestablish a connection with this family member. So I am thankful for that. I’ll share in my own life I reached out to one of my closest friends who told me about 6 years ago that he was an atheist. We are still very close, but I basically shut down the Jesus talk around him because we had trouble talking about it without getting into arguments. But just a few weeks ago I told him I was praying that God would change his heart on this issue, and his response was that any time I wanted to discuss Christianity he was open to talking about it. So my prayer is that God honors our intentionality, and that we see transformed lives. Another story of transformation this morning as we look at the account of the paralytic man from Mark 2 if you would like to go ahead and turn there in the your Bible. We will be reading the first twelve verses of this chapter together.


Jesus was Available:

"And many were gathered together, so that there was no more room, not even at the door. And he was preaching the word to them." — Mark 2:2

The word on Jesus is out at this point. He’s already a celebrity. Even though Mark tells us he is at home, it doesn’t mean that he had a whole lot of time to rest. Word had gotten out that Jesus was in Capernaum. 

In Mark 1, he has called some of his new disciples, gone into the synagogue to teach, healed a man with an unclean spirit, healed Simon’s mother-in-law, and healed a leper. People were coming to see him from all over. In fact, Mark tells us that Jesus could not openly enter a town, but was in desolate places and people were still coming to see him from everywhere.

Jesus teaches us a number of qualities that we should implement but the quality that I am most impressed with throughout the gospels is that he was always available. Now I understand that the Gospels are recording the most important details of Jesus’s life and ministry, but I still think Jesus had the mentality that he would be available when at all possible. Understanding that even he needed time to rest and recharge, but I think he went above and beyond in being available.

I believe that our current context in America would be one that is not readily available. We are too busy to be available. We have jobs, families, extracurricular activities that often prevent us from being completely engaged and available to the needs around us. We have to be intentional about availability. It is not something that just happens by accident. We have to make a conscious effort at it. We must pray and ask God to give us the mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual energy to be available to those around us.


Love of Friends:

"And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him, and when they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay." — Mark 2:4


Mark doesn’t give us a lot of details about these men, but I think we can safely make the assumption that they care an awful lot about their friend.

Even though the roof was not a shingled roof like many houses today use, it still would have been a difficult task to remove a portion of the roof. In Jesus’s day many of the roofs were constructed with beams covered with branches and a thick layer of mud plaster. So it’s not like the friends just removed some pine straw in order to get the paralytic down. Mark tells us that they made an opening in the roof.

Look closely at how Mark words verse 5. He writes that after Jesus saw “their” faith he decided to heal the man. We don’t have any indication that the paralytic himself believed that Jesus could heal him. Maybe he did, maybe he didn’t, but Mark tells us that the reason Jesus chose to heal this man was not because of the paralytic’s faith but because of his friend’s faith. Don’t overlook the power in this possessive pronoun. Jesus is honoring the friends for the faith they had in him.

Outside of your family, who in your life do you care for this much? Who cares for you this much outside of your family? The paralytic had some solid friends. Do you have any deep friendships? I don’t mean friends that you just do an activity with. I mean deep friendships that you can share your soul with them. Do you have any 3am relationships? In other words, if something were to happen to you or tragedy were to strike your family who would you be willing to call at 3am to tell what happened? Or who is comfortable enough calling you at 3am when tragedy strikes?

  • In 2000, Harvard Professor Robert Putnam wrote a book called Bowling Alone. His book was based on research about the deterioration of community in American life. He said a major shift occurred in the 1960s and 1970s as people seemed to pull away from community, and he used the metaphor of bowling to describe this shift. Putnam argued while overall more people were bowling there was a rapid decline in bowling leagues. Instead of bowling in community people were bowling alone. Bowling leagues dropped 40% between 1980-1993. He warned that the move toward isolation would be bad for people and communities. He predicted years before it would happen that there would be a day when families are sitting around the dinner table or at a restaurant all staring at their phones instead of having conversation with one another.

I’ll confess to you that I am guilty of this sometimes, but we have to work harder than we have ever worked before to make sure that we do not isolate ourselves. To make sure that we do not go bowling alone. To not allow people to walk out of this room after worship on Sunday without knowing that they can have be a part of community in one of our small groups. Making sure people know that we as a church love them and care for them, and want them to be involved. This is counter cultural friends. People want to be left alone. Our 4 the City emphasis is not the norm. It’s abnormal. It’s going against the grain of society .Our neighbors might not be interested in coming over to our house for dinner, but you know what God calls me and you to make sure people know they are loved by God. Maybe you lose the relationship with a neighbor for reaching out to them, but you know what let’s at least lose a relationship for doing the right thing rather than nothing. Maybe they will think we are weird. Oh well.


Recognize the Skeptics:

"And immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to them, 'Why do you question these things in your hearts?'" — Mark 2:8

If you follow after Jesus understand that there will always be those that doubt your sincerity in following Christ, and that doubt Jesus was who he said he was. Do not allow someone’s skepticism to derail your own walk with God.

I would encourage you when you come across people who are skeptical regarding the claims of Jesus to thank them for their honesty. Instead of pushing back on their skepticism with immediate answers be willing to thank them for thinking through the claims of Jesus and having questions.

When people have questions that means they are thinking, and we want to encourage them for exploring and thinking about Jesus. The worst possible response someone could have about Jesus is indifference. He should either cause you to worship him or enrage you.

The skeptics in this particular story doubted Jesus’s ability to forgive sins. The scribes, which were those highly trained in the law, knew that the responsibility to forgive sins fell solely on God. Jesus’s bold claim to provide forgiveness was seen as blasphemous because he was taking credit and exercising authority that the scribes did not believe he had.

In the Old Testament, sin and disease and forgiveness and healing are interrelated concepts. Healing was often demonstrated through the forgiveness of sin. Sickness, disease, and death are the consequences of sin in a fallen world. We don’t have any specific indication in the text that the man’s condition was related to sin, but when Jesus pronounces that the man’s sins have been forgiven healing also happens.

I spent a lot of time discussing this last week when we talked about Saul, but throughout Jesus’s ministry the biggest detractors and skeptics were not murderers or thieves, but religious people. Jesus has to spend more time rebuking the scribes and Pharisees than he does almost any other group of people.

  • Pew Research surveyed the landscape of religion in America back in 2014 and in this study only 3% identified as atheist while agnostics represented only 4%. This leads me to the following conclusion: Most people need an accurate understanding of who God is not necessarily more reasons to believe in him. More people are open to the Gospel than you think, they just need to understand the truth of what the Gospel actually teaches. The skeptics in your life might not be people opposed to the truth of Christianity they could just be uninformed. So let’s be in the business of making sure that people have a right understanding of God. That we point them to God’s word to reveal his nature and character, and not just give our opinion of God.


Freedom in Forgiveness:

"And he rose and immediately picked up his bed and went out before them all, so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, 'We never saw anything like this!'” — Mark 2:12

Imagine the exhilaration this paralytic felt when he stood up and was able to walk again. His feet being able to feel the ground underneath him, the wiggling of his toes. Being able to carry his own cot out of the house for everyone to see. Being able to stretch his legs out fully perhaps for the first time.

This isn’t really a story about a paralyzed man being healed. It’s way bigger than that. This is a story about the freedom that a person can experience when they are forgiven.

Forgiveness is a very popular expression. Psychologists study the benefits and effects of forgiveness all of the time. People who forgive tend to be more satisfied with their lives, have less depression, less anger, less anxiety, less hostility, and less stress. People who struggle to forgive or who hold grudges often experience depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. They are often more bitter, more angry, more stressed.

  • Everyone is aware of the tragedy that took place at Michigan State University as Dr. Larry Nassar abused over 150 gymnasts over the course of decades. Before he was sentenced to 175 years in prison, many of his victims were allowed to speak to him and share the pain and agony that they had been through. One of those gymnasts was a lady named Rachel Denhollander. She became very well-known party because in her remarks to Nassar she communicated that she forgave him of his transgressions against her and other gymnasts. She was asked in an interview what does it mean to her that she forgave Larry Nassar and she said the following: "It means that I trust in God’s justice and I release bitterness and anger and a desire for personal vengeance. It does not mean that I minimize or mitigate or excuse what he has done. It does not mean that I pursue justice on earth any less zealously. It simply means that I release personal vengeance against him, and I trust God’s justice, whether he chooses to mete that out purely eternally, or both in heaven and on earth."

Listen closely friends, forgiveness does not mean forgetting. But forgiveness is a very important component of the Gospel. If we are going to clearly communicate the gospel to our friends, neighbors, coworkers, and others we associate with, we need to be willing to show them how to forgive. Please hear me, I don’t know the ways that everyone in this room has been wronged. And I could never begin to understand the pain and heartache that others feel, but I do know this: if Jesus can pray and ask his father to forgive the very people who put him on the cross then we are capable of extending forgiveness to others.

If we are not willing to forgive, we are look a bird trapped in a cage with clipped wings. But if we are willing through the power of the Holy Spirit to both receive and extend forgiveness than the door to the cage will be opened. And we will be able to fly like never before.

I want us all to examine our hearts this morning. Is there anyone that we need to extend forgiveness to? Is there anyone you need to go to and ask for forgiveness? Maybe you don’t think God could ever forgive you. Don’t believe that lie friend, God loves you and if you ask him to forgive you then he will.  Because Jesus was willing to forgive us of our sin, we must be willing to forgive others.  Notice how Mark chooses to end this story. The people are amazed and they say we have never seen anything like this. Imagine the impact that forgiveness could have in this church in our community in your family. People could walk away from an encounter with you and say, “We have never seen anything like this.”

Series Information

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