Summary: Responding to the example of the friends that brought their crippled friend to Jesus, we are challenged to invite others, to expect God to do amazing things, and to praise God in response.
“Faces in the Crowd” – Luke 5
This is the second message in our series entitled “Faces in the Crowd”. This series focuses on a number of characters found in the Gospels, whose names are briefly mentioned, typically appearing in one story and then we seldom read of their story again. In essence, these are “faces in the crowd” among the many well-known characters whose names are synonymous with the story of Christ.
In the first message, we studied the story Simeon, as he encountered Christ there in the temple, proclaiming the work of Christ to come and blessing Mary and Joseph. And in this second message, we are going to turn our focus to the man brought to Jesus for healing.
In the midst of this crowded teaching time for Jesus, where the room was filled with followers and critics alike, a man who receives no introduction here is brought into the midst before Jesus. And this face in the crowd causes both praise and scorn to fill the air on that day. And as we study this passage this morning, I believe our willingness to do just as these friends did in bringing their friend before Jesus, will be an opportunity for us to be challenged.
The first step that we can take as we follow this…face in the crowd…is to invite.
I. Faces in the Crowd – INVITE
A Face in the Crowd can encounter Jesus if we will invite them.
The Setting: The setting of this event is described in Mark’s parallel account of this story as in the region of Capernaum, and as folks heard of Jesus’ presence in the area, they rushed to a home where they hoped they would hear Him teaching. Now what we learn in Luke’s account is that mixed in this crowd of eager listeners were also those that were seeking to tear down the teaching ministry of this new man on the scene called Jesus of Nazareth. There among the eager learners were the Pharisees and teachers of the law, seeking to find something that might corner Jesus in breaking some crucial law.
Transition: But as the legal experts sought to catch Jesus in a loophole of the law, outside there was something rather impressive taking place – for there we see a group of friends demonstrating their determination to bring their friend to Jesus.
Our text says that they, “sought to bring (him) in and lay (him) before (Jesus).”
As they do that, they immediately encounter a number of obstacles preventing them from getting their friend to Jesus.
1. The crowd had grown too large.
2. His condition made it impossible for him to push his way into the group.
The first step that we must make is the same step facing these friends – how will we eliminate or bypass the obstacles that keep our friend or loved one from worshiping with us here in our church? If you have tried very often to encourage a friend or loved one to attend worship with you, you have probably encountered any number of obstacles – usually in the form of excuses for not making weekly worship a priority. But just as we will see in this story this morning, those obstacles would not deter these dear friends from bringing their friend to Christ.
The question becomes, are we as committed to bringing our friends to Christ – just as these men demonstrated in our classic story this morning? Do we really believe in the importance of an invitation to worship?
In a poll by one of the largest US denominations (Southern Baptist Convention) several years ago, 80-86% of respondents initially came to a church service due to a friend or family member inviting them or bringing them to church.
For many of you, that statistic is true because your family loved you enough to bring you to church even as a child, as was the case in my own journey to Christ. For others, that statistic may be true because you were the recipient of the love of a friend who originally brought you to this very church.
But the most important thing that we can gain from that statistic is a confidence that if we will be bold enough to invite our friend or family member to join us in worship, odds are that they will eventually be willing to do just that – if we will only invite them!
And to invite them, consider using one of our...
First Touch Events (events that most churches offer that would be a great starting point for a guest to get plugged into the life of your church).
They were unwilling to stop simply because of obstacles.
That’s the kind of resolve we need in our churches - a resolve to move forward as a church, stopping at no obstacle to see new faces in the crowd of worshipers, who will be hearing from God’s Word on a weekly basis.