Summary: This sermon is based on the story of the healing of the paralytic and focused on how Jesus probes and meets the deeper need of forgiveness.
Jesus Meets the Greatest Human Need
1 A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. 2 So many gathered that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them.
3 Some men came, bringing to him a paralytic, carried by four of them. 4 Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus and, after digging through it, lowered the mat the paralyzed man was lying on. 5 When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "Son, your sins are forgiven." 6 Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, 7 "Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?"
8 Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, "Why are you thinking these things? 9 Which is easier: to say to the paralytic, ’Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ’Get up, take your mat and walk’? 10 But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins...." He said to the paralytic, 11 "I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home." 12 He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, "We have never seen anything like this!"
This event in Jesus’ life raises some interesting questions for us. How and why do people come to Jesus? What is humankind’s greatest need? When we look at our friends and family struggling with life, what is their greatest need? Who is Jesus and what power does He really have? Why do religious leaders get so upset with Jesus?
There are anywhere from 250,000 to 400,000 people with spinal cord injuries in the US.
47% with paralysis of the lower extremities; 53% are quadriplegic. 80% are male. About 90% live a normal life span. More than half were injured between the ages of 16 and 30.
I read the story of Trevor Snowden, a world class snowboarder whose back snapped in two. He describes his accident:
At Snow Qualomy Pass, Snowden was the third boarder to make a practice run off the sculpted snow ramp designed to catapult contestants over a flat area and onto a steep landing slope. The first two riders barely cleared the flat section and contest officials were worried.
"The walkie-talky guys said to get more speed, so I touched it up a notch," said
Snowden. He hit the jump and not only cleared the flat but sailed over the entire slope, landing in another flat area 103 feet below the ramp.
"I was doing a backside 360 (helicopter) and, when I turned around, I saw that I was too big," he said. "I thought about skidding on my side or leaning back but my mind just decided to stick it - to land on my feet. I was so high and so far and the hill was so flat that there was no way my body could stand the compression."
"I hit and all I remember is hearing my bones rattle inside my flesh," he said. "I hit so hard that I bounced off the snow like a beach ball/
I also read of Tasha Schuh a beautiful 18 year old girl who fell through a 12 ft.trap story on a stage landing on a concrete floor. She said after the accident:
"I had a lot of different emotions, following my prognosis. At
first I was crushed. I was so sad, I didn’t even want to live. I never thought I
could live my life successfully in a wheelchair. I would never be able to play
volleyball again, my most favorite sport, and I would not be able to play
piano. I had taken lessons for 8 years, and someday I wanted to be a music
teacher. I never thought I would be able to go to college, hold a job, or get
married and have kids."
Imagine the situation described here. Jesus is back at his Galilean headquarters in Capernaum, preaching in a crowded house either his house or, as traditionally held, the home of Peter and Andrew. There are people on the floor, in the doorway, at the windows. Passersby stop in curiosity at to what or who is attracting such a crowd.
This reminds me of the dedication service of Bethsaida Church in Northwest India. This is the church for which we funded the construction. The guests from the states were tucked against the front wall in the small building with people sitting or standing on every square inch of floor space. Even the stairs going up to the roof were packed with children.