Summary: What Jesus saw in four men should be seen in our lives as well
There’s a familiar old story that’s told about a tightrope walker who did incredible stunts. All over Paris, he would do tightrope acts at tremendously scary heights. Then, he would do it blindfolded, then he would go across the tightrope, blindfolded, pushing a wheelbarrow.
As the story goes, there was an American promoter who read about this in the newspapers and wrote a letter to the tightrope walker, saying, "Tightrope, I don’t believe you can do it, but I’m willing to make you an offer. For a very substantial sum of money, besides all your transportation fees, I would like to challenge you to do your act over Niagara Falls."
Tightrope wrote back and said, "Sir, I’d love to come." Well, after a lot of promotion and setting the whole thing up, a crowd of people came to see the event. Tightrope was to start on the Canadian side and come over to the American side on this rope suspended over the falls. After a suspenseful drum roll, he came across blindfolded.
The crowds went wild, and he came to the promoter and says, "Well, Mr. Promoter, now do you believe I can do it?" He said, "Well of course I do. I mean, I just saw you do it." "No," said Tightrope, "do you really believe I can do it?" "Well of course I do, you just did it." "No, no, no," said Tightrope, "do you believe I can do it?" "Yes," said Mr. Promoter, "I believe you can do it." "Good," said Tightrope, "then get in the wheelbarrow."
You see, faith is never something just to be talked about. It is something that must be demonstrated in the way we live. Paul Harvey once said, “If you don’t live it, you don’t believe it.” There’s Biblical basis for that statement. James said, “Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” (James 2:18).
There’s a story in Mark 2 that demonstrates this principle. I want us to read and study the whole story, but for now, I want to draw your attention to four short words in verse 5: “Jesus saw their faith”. Most people would say, “You can’t ‘see’ faith. Faith isn’t in the physical, visible realm.” But it is. And Jesus saw the faith of these four men.
It’s an interesting story that begins in verse 1:
"And again He [Jesus] entered Capernaum after some days, and it was heard that he was in the house. Immediately many gathered together, so that there was no longer room to receive them, not even near the door. And he preached the word to them." (Mark 2:1-2)
In verse 1, we’re told that Jesus was “in the house.” At least, that’s what the New King James version says. It is generally thought that this was an idiom, a figure of speech, that means he was at home. In fact, that’s the way that the NIV translates it: “the people heard that he had come home.”
Now we know, of course, that Jesus grew up in Nazareth, but Capernaum and Nazareth are not far from each other. Luke 4 tells us that when Jesus went back to Nazareth, after his baptism and temptation in the wilderness, he was so thoroughly rejected by the people with whom he grew up that he left Nazareth and made Capernaum, which was a fishing village on the Sea of Galilee, his home base for the three years of his public ministry.