Summary: What impressed Jesus in this story was the faith of the men who'd brought their friend to him - a friend who was crippled and lived in a low place of life. The phrase is "Jesus saw their faith." What does that mean? And what can it mean to us?
A few years back, Garth Brooks came out with a popular Country and Western song called: “I’ve Got Friends In Low Places”
How many of you have ever heard the song? (when most of them raised their hands, I stage whispered: “Pagans”)
It has a catchy tune, but it is NOT a very nice song. It tells the story of a man who “crashes” his ex-wife’s (or his ex-girlfriend’s) fancy party. The words go like this:
“Blame it all on my roots
I showed up in boots and ruined your black tie affair.
The last one to know, the last one to show.
I was the last one you thought you'd see there.
And I saw the surprise and the fear in his eyes
when I took his glass of champagne
And I toasted you
Said, “honey, we may be through
but you'll never hear me complain.”
'Cause I've got friends in low places
where the whiskey drowns
and the beer chases my blues away.
And I'll be okay.
I'm not big on social graces.
Think I'll slip on down to the oasis.
Oh, I've got friends in low places”
What’s really depressing about this song is that the last chorus of the song is sung by a bar full of people singing the praises of spending their time in a “low place where the whiskey drowns and the beer chases” their blues away.
Now I have no problem with people wanting to spend time with their friends. The problem isn’t that they want to spend time with their friends, it’s that they want to spend that time in a “low place”… and they’re quite content to STAY in that “low place”.
ILLUS: A few years back I had reason to go into a bar. I didn’t really want to go in there, but there was someone who I needed to talk to and they came outside with me when I found them.
But I really didn’t want to be in that bar.
So I walk into this bar (long pause) and to call this place a dump (pause) would be an insult to garbage dumps. It was dirty, it was disgusting, it made my skin crawl to be there. And I thought to myself at the time: why would anybody go to a place like this? It was truly A LOW PLACE.
ILLUS: One man once observed that “the bar is an imitation” of what the church should be.
It dispenses liquor instead of grace, escape rather than reality.
It is a permissive atmosphere.
It is unshockable. It is democratic.
It is very accepting and everybody can be included.
And you can tell people secrets there… and they usually don't tell others. In fact they really don’t even want to.
The bar is a place where lots of people find relief from the pressures of the world. It’s a place where many literally do chase their blues away with whiskey and beer.
Now, what’s interesting is that Jesus spent His entire ministry with people in “Low Places.” He didn’t go to their “low places” to toss back a few drinks and tell a few jokes. He didn’t share their “darkness” so they could feel better. Jesus came down to their low place in order to lift them up into a life they could be proud of.
Just a few verses after our story this morning, we’re told “…the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to (Jesus’) disciples, "Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and ‘sinners’?" (In other words, “Jesus what are doing down here in the “low places?”)
Jesus answered them, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." Luke 5:30-32
That was why Jesus came.
He didn’t come to rub shoulders with the powerful and influential.
He came heal people who’d messed their lives up.
Now, as I was preparing this sermon this morning, it occurred to me that this crippled man in our story had lived a very low place in his life. He was condemned to never walk, to never be able to enjoy much of the world around him. But he had one thing that made all the difference in his life: he had friends who were literally in high places. They went up on the roof someone's home to help him be healed of his weakness.
And there was something that Bible tells us about those 4 friends that got my attention. We're told "… Jesus saw THEIR faith.” Luke 5:20
Now, here’s the setting:
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.