Summary: A focus on faith and healing. And, just why did Jesus tell the paralytic his sins were forgiven?
OPEN: It was the first day of basketball practice at Wingate High School in Brooklyn, N.Y. The Coach handed a ball to each player.
"Boys," he said, "I want you to practice shooting from the spots you might expect to be in during the game."
One of the boys (who was pretty much there as a substitute for the star players - in fact he was substitute #12) immediately sat down on the bench and began shoot the ball toward the basket from there.
APPLY: You might say that boy didn’t expect to get to play much.
And I suppose he was just trying to get a laugh out of his team mates.
But, there are some people who sit the bench, because that’s where they’ve gotten used to being. They never strive to much more than that - because they don’t believe in themselves enough to put in the extra effort and practice to change their status. And because of that: they’re always going to sit the bench
I. There are people who live their Christian lives like that.
As far as their faith goes - they are proverbial bench sitters. They are the type of people who don’t expect much out of God and that’s what they get.
God tells us in Hebrews 11:6 "..without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him."
In other words: God is looking for people who aren’t satisfied being bench sitters. He’s looking for people who not only believe that He exists but who believe that He will REWARD those who earnestly seek Him.
God is looking for people with an EXTREME Faith. A faith that won’t accept the idea that they can "just get by" as Christians. A faith that rejects the idea that God is somewhere out there and somehow doesn’t care. A faith that exerts itself because this person BELIEVES God will hear their petition. God is looking for an EXTREME FAITH
* God looking for people who will say: "I can do everything thru him who gives me strength." (Phil. 4:13)
* He’s looking for people who like Abraham are "fully persuaded that God has power to do what he has promised" Ro 4:21
* He’s looking for people who like Paul believe God "is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine..." Eph 3:20
He’s looking for people with Extreme faith. He’s looking for people - like some of the men in our story today.
II. I want you to picture the scene in your minds:
This is the 1st year of Jesus’ ministry. Ever since the Sermon on the Mount, He’s been out preaching, teaching, healing and casting out demons. And it seems that every time people know He’s in the area, they surround. They literally mob Him.
It’s hard for Him to get a moment’s rest. Time to be alone and pray. Jesus has sought to escape the crowds and it would seem that He has returned to Capernaum seeking rest. But even here He can’t escape. He can’t get away from the crowds.
His one consolation is that at least here the people have only come to hear Him preach. Nobody seems to be clamoring to have Him heal them. That’s important - Luke 8 tells the story of a woman who had an illness, but who feared to approach Jesus face to face. She touched His garment and Jesus "felt power go out from Him."