Summary: A call to unity in the church
Let’s turn in our bible to Mark Chapter 2 verse 1 and then when we have found that keep your finger in there and then turn to Luke 5:17
OK, let’s read the Mark passage first:
1A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. 2So many gathered that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them. 3Some men came, bringing to him a paralytic, carried by four of them. 4Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus and, after digging through it, lowered the mat the paralyzed man was lying on. 5When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "Son, your sins are forgiven."
And now the same story in Luke Chapter 5 starting at verse 17.
17One day as he was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law, who had come from every village of Galilee and from Judea and Jerusalem, were sitting there. And the power of the Lord was present for him to heal the sick. 18Some men came carrying a paralytic on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus. 19When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus.
20When Jesus saw their faith, he said, "Friend, your sins are forgiven."
When I started praying and thinking about what I should bring this morning and this came out, I must confess that I was a little disappointed – after all, I thought, this is one of the Sunday School passages – you know like Jonah or Zechariah up the tree that you learn about as a child - and because they are so familiar seem to have nothing left for us – oh boy – how wrong could I be?!
This is actually an account of astonishing relevance to us sitting here this morning.
So come on, let’s dig in. Let’s look at it. Word gets round Capernaum that Jesus has come back. He’s back at his house (that’s what it says) – it says that word was out that he had come home.
So people come and see him, because by now his reputation is growing and people are beginning to recognise that here is someone very, very different. But so many people come that his house fills to capacity where there is simply no room left for anyone.
Imagine the scene, the squat square house in which Jesus was staying completely filled with people to hear what he had to say – perhaps pushing and shoving, trying to squeeze into the house from the outside – perhaps even squabbling outside while they try and get inside to catch a glimpse of this famous preacher.
And somewhere else in the municipality four men hear that Jesus is back in town and they decide that they would pick up and carry a fifth man who was completely disabled to Jesus. So they put him on a stretcher and they lift him, one at each corner.
Now I’ve been to Capernaum and even now the place is a nightmare on foot. Dusty and hot - With incredibly steep streets, completely uneven and narrow – and if it rains the streets are just awash with mud – and that’s 21st century Capernaum – what it must have been like at the time of Jesus, I can barely imagine.
We don’t know anything of the relationship between these four men and the paralytic man, but there must have been some strong bond between them to even begin to do this – perhaps friends – perhaps family.
And for me, it is here, where the whole perspective of this story actually becomes altered.
For me, the first and most important point is that this account of healing of the paralytic man actually has very little to do with the healing of the paralytic man. This account is less about him and much more about the four men who were carries that man to Jesus.
The first thing is that these men were willing. Despite knowing the steep and uneven streets – the heat of the day and the distance they would have travel – those men decided that they would get off their behinds and they would carry this man.
The next thing is that when they eventually got to the house what scene were they confronted with? A pushing crowd – seething mass of people trying to get into the house to see Jesus – the dust, the noise – the seemingly impossible task of getting this man before Jesus. I mean think about this – how many of us, tired and hot and bothered would have tried maybe to get through the door with the stretcher but then after trying and failing to do so would have just given up?