Saturday, July 23, 2005

Seeing THEIR Faith

Jesus Heals a Paralyzed Man

17 One day while Jesus was teaching, some Pharisees and teachers of religious law were sitting nearby. (It seemed that these men showed up from every village in all Galilee and Judea, as well as from Jerusalem.) And the Lord's healing power was strongly with Jesus.

18 Some men came carrying a paralyzed man on a sleeping mat. They tried to push through the crowd to Jesus,

19 but they couldn't reach him. So they went up to the roof, took off some tiles, and lowered the sick man down into the crowd, still on his mat, right in front of Jesus.

20 Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the man, "Son, your sins are forgiven."
21 "Who does this man think he is?" the Pharisees and teachers of religious law said to each other. "This is blasphemy! Who but God can forgive sins?"

22 Jesus knew what they were thinking, so he asked them, "Why do you think this is blasphemy?

23 Is it easier to say, `Your sins are forgiven' or `Get up and walk'?

24 I will prove that I, the Son of Man, have the authority on earth to forgive sins." Then Jesus turned to the paralyzed man and said, "Stand up, take your mat, and go on home, because you are healed!"

25 And immediately, as everyone watched, the man jumped to his feet, picked up his mat, and went home praising God.

26 Everyone was gripped with great wonder and awe. And they praised God, saying over and over again, "We have seen amazing things today." (Luke 5:17-26 NLT)

I love this account in Scripture. Notice how these men who took their paralyzed friend to Jesus were concerned for their hurting friend.

"We should all be concerned about our neighbor and the good things that will build his faith." Romans 15:2 (GW)

Compassion is love in action. Love opens the door to share Christ.

Notice how they believed Jesus would save their friend.

Jesus is "able, now and always, to save those who come to God through him..." Hebrews 7:25 (TEV)

People are often paralyzed by fear, loneliness, guilt, circumstances and problems. They can't get to Jesus. Sometimes this requires action on our part, as Christian evangelists.

Notice that these men didn't just pray for their friend; they brought him to Jesus.

"Go out into the country lanes and behind the hedges and urge anyone you find to come, so that the house wil be full." Luke 14:23 (NLT)

Colossians 4:5 tells us to be wise in the way we act.

Notice how these men didn't let difficulties discourage them.

"...God is patient, because He wants everyone to turn from sin and no one to be lost." 2 Peter 3:9 (CEV)

Friends, what does all this tell us? We need to spend more time with non-Christians. Our love for Jesus Christ is evident by our willingness to share Him with those who don't know him yet!

Jesus told us that we each have a mission in this world.

"In the same way that you gave Me a mission in the world, I give them a mission in the world." John 17:18 (Msg)

Notice that the four men who brought this paraplegic to Jesus were not priests or pastors; they were just friends.

What stood out to you in this passage?

I saw two important points.

One, it was THEIR faith, the faith of the four men who went to extreme measures to get their friend in front of Jesus, who motivated Jesus to heal the paraplegic.

Two, the physical needs of this man were obvious, but his spiritual needs were less obvious. The forgiveness of the man's sins indicated that although he needed to be healed physically, there was also a deep spiritual hunger and need for spiritual healing within the man.

The same mission that Jesus Christ had on earth, helping people find God, He has now given to you and I! Our mission is simply to pass on to others the same Good News about God's love that someone shared with us!

Sometimes it may take extreme measures for them to reach Jesus.

Sometimes it may take patience and perseverance in reaching those who don't know Christ. 2 Peter 3:8-9 teaches about such patience.

Sometimes, it is those who put up a mask to hide their hurt, problems and pain inside who need us to try and reach them the most! Often it is the people who are far from God who can be most difficult to witness to. But next time you encounter a difficult person in whom you are trying to witness, think about the great lengths that these four men went to in order to bring their friend to Jesus!


Anna said...

Hi Christine!

Sometimes people get the idea only apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers are "in the ministry." Actually, they are the ones who are to equip believers so THEY can go do the work of the ministry. Every one of us has an important function in the Body of Christ. None of us has been left out. Hallelujah! It just makes my heart jump for joy to know that I have a part and no matter how small it is, in His eyes it matters.

Who said the Christian life is dull? Not this girl!


Christinewjc said...

Hi Anna,

That is so true! I remember my Bible Study Fellowship lecturer telling us that very thing! Often, we think that we need another Bible study to equip us to share the Gospel. That may be true, but we also need to be out there doing the work of the Great Commission as Jesus instructed us! When witnessing to others, there will always be many scoffers, rejectors, mockers, and general non-believers to face, but even if just one "gets it" and through our efforts of sharing the Word, he/she has a heart that is quickened by the Holy Spirit to acknowledge his/her sin, ask forgiveness, and invite Jesus Christ into his/her life as Lord and Savior...then it was all worth it.

I agree. It just never gets old and dull. It is the most exciting part of life knowing that it matters to God and for all eternity!

Love through Christ,

Christinewjc said...

During one Sunday sermon, my pastor went into great detail about the following verse:

"19 but they couldn't reach him. So they went up to the roof, took off some tiles, and lowered the sick man down into the crowd, still on his mat, right in front of Jesus."

He talked about the extreme measures that the friends went through to get their paralyzed friend in front of Jesus. Imagine it! They hoisted their friend up and brought him onto the roof. Then, they removed the tiles from the roof of another person's home! (Today, I would think that someone would have sued them for "destruction of personal property" heh heh.) Then, they had to rig the ropes and steady the man on the mat so that he wouldn't fall off and then they needed the strength to lower him down from the roof onto the floor in front of Jesus!

What if these men had just given up trying to get their friend into the home? What if they thought it would be just to hard to haul this friend up to the roof, tear off the tiles and lower him down? What if they thought about "what would others think" about us doing this? Notice that none of this mattered; even when the teachers of religious law accused Jesus of blasphemy when He stated that he has the authority to forgive sins.

22 Jesus knew what they were thinking, so he asked them, "Why do you think this is blasphemy?

23 Is it easier to say, `Your sins are forgiven' or `Get up and walk'?

Isn't this similar to what is happening today? Those who oppose the display of the Ten Commandments are, in effect, attempting to squelch the very thing that points to our sin and need for repentance...God's Laws.

Scripture tells us, "without faith, it is impossible to please God." Recall in the OT where Abraham's "faith was attributed to righteousness." Look at how pleased Jesus was to see this faith demonstrated by the friends! They believed (beforehand, without first seeing the miracle that would occur here)FIRST, then they saw the miracle. I would imagine that some of rest of the people there believed only AFTER they witnessed the miracle was done there.

26 Everyone was gripped with great wonder and awe. And they praised God, saying over and over again, "We have seen amazing things today." (Luke 5:17-26 NLT)

But Scripture also tells us in other accounts that many Pharisees and teachers of religious law didn't believe IN Jesus, as a result of seeing this and many other miracles. In fact, they often wanted and demanded to see more miracles. They viewed Jesus as some "great magician" rather than as the Son of God, Savior and Lord. What does this tell us?

I think it tells us that seeing is not believing, as many non-believers claim they will need in order to believe. Scripture tells us that, "even if a man were to rise from the dead, they still will not believe." What is it that makes the difference? I think it has to do with recognizing the Laws of God, the fact that we ALL have broken them; our need to be GENUINELY SORRY FOR ALL OF OUR SINS with such sorrow that our hearts are broken and remorseful for sinning against our Creator; our need for repentance and forgiveness through God's mercy and grace given through the sacrificial death and subsequent resurrection of Jesus Christ; being born again as a result; the indwelling of the Holy Spirit of God to lead us towards sanctification and holiness; and the commitment to make Jesus Lord of our lives.

Hebrews 11:1 - Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.