Summary: Layered in this story is the fact that forgiveness is a gift offered to us long before we ask for it! Jesus’ completed the redemptive work, by which forgiveness is made possible, on the cross. It remains whether we will accept/receive the gift He secure
Scripture Text: Mark 2.1-12
NOTE: this sermon was preached on the first Sunday of a new year.
I know that a-lot-of-people really love New Year’s. The kids like New Year’s Eve so-much because they get to stay up way-past their bed-times. Football fanatics love New Years because of all the bowl-games being-played. There are people in my family that couldn’t-get the new-year-started, without watching the Rose Bowl Parade! But, I-think-that what most-adults like-so-much is that New Year’s signifies a new start. A new leaf is turned over. New Year’s is a chance to make resolutions, …decide to do things differently, …make changes and move past the past.
And-that-brings us to, today… The first Sunday of a new year. What would-be an appropriate theme for the sermon ~ …something to kick-the-year-off on-the-right-foot?
Resolutions? Maybe-even-Creation? Well… those are all-good… But God has laid something else on my heart. Forgiveness. And-ya-know… forgiveness is one-of-those-things that really-oughtta-be at the beginning-of-the-year, …and end-the-year, …and fill-the-year! Who-among-us does not need to be forgiven!?! Who-among-us hasn’t been called upon to offer forgiveness? Even-today… we come together as a people in need of grace ~ …whether you’ve walked with the Lord for six-days, or sixty-years, …or, whether you haven’t yet decided to give your heart to the Lord. We step into this sanctuary as people in need of forgiveness. Whether it’s a sin-of-attitude; …or a sin-of-neglect; …or, one-of-rebellion; …or something-committed out-of-ignorance: We all need forgiveness. So, let’s start this year off-on-the-right-foot!
The Gospel of Mark tells an interesting-story of something that happened shortly after Jesus began his public ministry. Jesus’ reputation is beginning to build. As-He travels around Capernaum, he preaches and teaches and prays for the sick and heals them. Capernaum was located on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee; …and it was a long way away from the seats-of-power in Jerusalem. But, the people living in-and-around Capernaum, …they were discovering-in-Jesus something grander-and-more-powerful than anything contained in Jerusalem!
If you have your Bibles, I invite you to turn to the second-chapter of Mark’s Gospel. Mark, chapter 2…. Jesus returns to Capernaum. It’s become his base-of-operations, …here-in-the-early-days of His ministry.
READ Mark 2.1-12
Don’t-ya-love-it when an-old-familiar-story jumps-off-the-page with some new, fresh detail ~ …something you’ve never-noticed-before!?! That’s-what happened to me when I began diving into this passage. Listen to this: …Mark tells us in verse 1, “…the people heard that he had come home.”
Now… Matthew tells us that Jesus grew up in the tiny-village of Nazareth. But, after Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist, …Jesus moved to Capernaum. And, here in Mark’s Gospel, …we find that Jesus is calling Capernaum “home”.
As I thought-about-that for-a-minute, …I began to wonder whether this is Jesus’ house that people are crowding in-to! If-that’s-the-case, …then it’s His roof that gets a hole ripped into it; …and it’s His carpet that gets muddied from all those soiled-sandals; …and it’s His refrigerator that gets raided; …and it’s in His-home that those never-satisfied-Pharisees grumble-and-complain! I don’t-know-about-you, but-it kinda-puts a new-spin on this old-familiar-story, for-me, …to-think of this being Jesus’ home!
But, in-this-story, we find several men trying to get-to-Jesus; …and they are carrying a paralyzed man on a mat. We don’t know how the man became-paralyzed; …we only know that he was and that his friends did everything-they-could to get-this-guy to the feet-of-Jesus. There were several-things going-through-their-minds ~ …they knew that their paralyzed-friend had a need; …they believed that Jesus could do something about that need; …and they came-up-with-a-plan by thinking outside-the-box, because they came up against a number of road-blocks to getting their friend to Jesus.
Now, let’s begin with the “need” that this man has. Why was it so-important to his friends that this man be carried-to-Jesus? What was his need?
His friends obviously-thought that the man needed physical healing. They carried him on a mat ~ …probably the mat that he lied-down-on when sitting-street-side, begging for coins. They carried him on a mat ~ …because he was unable to carry-himself. They carried him on a mat ~ …because he had lost the ability to work, or to walk, or to go from one-place to another. He needed healing! And-so, his friends brought him to Jesus. For- whatever-reason, they thought that Jesus could-do-something. Maybe they’d heard that Jesus had healed a leper; …or that He’d commanded an evil-spirit to come out of a man; …or that He’d healed Peter’s mother-in-law and taken-away her fever. However-it-was that they’d heard about Jesus; …Whatever-it-was that they’d heard He’d already-done; …These guys figured that Jesus just-might-do-the-trick, and get their friend back-on-his-feet… So, they brought him to the house.
The-thing-is, …Jesus doesn’t heal-the-man, ..physically, …at-least, not-right-away! At-first, Jesus forgives the man! Forgives him!?!... Is that what this-guy’s-friends went to all the trouble for? Is this what he was hoping for? Was forgiveness what this guy needed?