Summary: This sermon is about the importance of friendship. We are called to be friends. The greatest way to be a friend is to bring people to Jesus (who is our greatest friend)
Many years ago there was a man who wanted to meet Jesus. Everyone in that day wanted to meet Jesus. This man hoped Jesus would heal him. There was a problem. He could not walk. Even more, there were too many people blocking the way to Jesus. How would he get to there?
The local government was unwilling to help. They did not care about the little guy. The military wasn’t interested. They were too busy keeping the Roman peace. The bankers knew there was no money in it. The religious leaders saw him as a sinner and were unwilling to lift a finger. The man needed someone to get him to Jesus. He needed a friend.
It has been said, “A friend is one who steps in when the whole world steps out!” Or to say it another way, “An old friend will help you move, a good friend will help you move a dead body.” This man was as good as dead. He needed four good friends to move him. That is exactly what happens. Listen to verse 3ff:
Then some people came, bringing to Jesus a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. 4 And when they could not bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him; and after having dug through it, they let down the mat on which the paralytic lay. 5 When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.”
Notice the last verse, “When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, ‘Friend, your sins are forgiven.’” Jesus forgave the man because of his friends’ faith. Jesus saw the love they had for the man. He saw the love it took to hoist him up and lower him through the roof. It required a ladder, robe, ingenuity, sweat, and a whole lot of love. Jesus saw their faith and forgave the man on the spot. That is friendship!
There is a great scene in the movie Tombstone where Doc Holiday helps his friend Wyatt Earp. Doc Holliday is very sick and should be in bed. As he coughs violently the following dialogue occurs:
Jack Johnson: Doc, you ought to be in bed. What are you doin' this for, anyway?
Doc Holliday: Wyatt Earp is my friend.
Jack Johnson: I've got lots of friends.
Doc Holliday: I don't.
Doc Holliday knew Wyatt Earp was his friend and was willing to do anything for him.
In life we have many vocations. We have the vocation of work. We have the vocation of family. We have the vocation of being a neighbor. But one of our greatest vocations is friendship. Moses had Aaron to lift up his arms. Naomi had Ruth. Paul had Timothy. Lewis had Clark. Rachel had Monica, Chandler, Joey, Phoebe, and Ross.
Who are your friends? Who can you rely on? Who relies on you? Who will hold up your arms when you cannot? And whose arms will you hold up? Who are you bringing to Jesus?
The paralytic needed friends to get him to Jesus. He had them! The story should end here. All should be fine. But it is not. Listen to verse 6ff: “Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, 7’“Why does Jesus speak in this way? It is blasphemy! Who can forgive sins but God alone?’” (2:6-7).
Do you notice where the religious leaders are at? That’s right, they are in the house with Jesus. They were the reason why the paralytic couldn’t get to Jesus in the first place. They blocked the way. No wonder Jesus called the Pharisees whitewashed tombs (clean on the outside and dead on the inside). They did not have the mind of Christ. They trusted their own right-ness instead of God’s righteousness. They were the kind of people Paul talked about in Philippians 2, when he said: “All of them are seeking their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ” (Phil 2:21). Their faith was in themselves. Don’t ever place your trust in yourself. You will always let yourself down.
There is only one person you can trust; one person who is your friend, namely, Jesus. As verse 8ff explains:
At once Jesus perceived in his spirit that they were discussing these questions among themselves; and he said to them, “Why do you raise such questions in your hearts? 9 Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Stand up and take your mat and walk’? 10 But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the paralytic— 11 “I say to you, stand up, take your mat and go to your home.” 12 And he stood up, and immediately took the mat and went out before all of them; so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!”