OUT OF WEAKNESS…STRENGTH - Paralyzed Man: “I Need Some Friends”
Luke 5:17-26 (p. 719) September 3, 2017
Henry Penn, former president of the Society of American Florists, tells what he calls one of the most memorable incidents of his life as a florist. One day two boys and a girl about ten years of age made a visit to his store. They wore ragged clothes, but had clean faces and hands. The boys took off their caps when they entered the shop. One of them stepped forward and said solemnly. “We’re the committee and we’d like some very nice yellow flowers.”
Penn showed them some inexpensive spring flowers but the boy said, “I think we’d like something better than that.”
“Do they have to be yellow?” asked Penn.
“Yes, sir,” was the reply.
“Mickey would like even better if they were yellow because he had a yellow sweater.”
“Are these for a funeral?” the florist asked quietly.
The boy nodded. The girl turned to keep back the tears.
“She’s his sister,” the boy explained. “He was a good kid - - a truck - - yesterday - - he was playing in the street. We saw it happen.”
Then the other boy added, “Us kids took up a collection. We got eighteen cents. Would roses cost an awful lot, Mister? Yellow roses?”
Touched by the story of the tragedy and the loyalty and love of these youngsters, Penn replied, “I have some nice yellow roses here that I’m selling for eighteen cents a dozen.”
“Gee, those would be swell!” exclaimed one of the boys.
“Mickey would like those,” the other one confirmed.
“I’ll make up a nice spray,” promised the sympathetic florist, “with ferns and a ribbon. Where shall I send them?”
“Would it be all right, Mister, if we took ‘em now?” asked one of the boys.
“We’d kinda like to take ‘em over and give ‘em to Mickey ourselves. He’d like it better that way.”
Penn accepted the eighteen cents. The “committee” carrying the kind of flowers “Mickey would like” walked out of the shop. Said Penn, “I felt uplifted for days. Unbeknownst to them, I had a part in their tribute to their friend.”
What would we do if we didn’t have real friends and those who secretly support and help us?
Our theme verse for this series is 1 Corinthians 1:27, “God chose the foolish things of this world to shame the wise and God chose the weak things of this world to shame the strong.”
We want to think we’re strong…and when we’re not, our pride wants us to pretend we are…And I understand why. There are people who are like sharks in the water. They see blood and attack with a frenzy. It’s easy to focus on them instead of the lifeguards who jump in to save us before we drown…Don’t!!!
Be aware of the sharks…but cultivate relationships with the lifeguards so you can be one yourself.
1 Corinthians 15:33 warns us “That bad company corrupts the best of morals.” I believe the opposite is also true…“Keep company with good people and good people you will imitate.”
Real friends are hard to come by…they’re rare because there is a connections in our souls that cannot be manufactured or formulated. It takes time and it requires as many troubles as it does celebrations.
Real friends love us…not “because of” but in “spite of.” They know our weaknesses and flaws. They don’t overlook them, but they look past them. Real friends don’t run from our burdens…They help carry them.
The man in our text has such friends…His weakness is he’s paralyzed…He’s confined to a mat every day. He cannot walk. He has to beg for help just to meet his daily needs. He’s broken…and the religious leaders of his day would have said, “Either he or his parents must have been terrible sinners for this to happen. He’s being punished by God.” That’s the way many looked at sickness and disease during Jesus’ time.
There’s not rehab, no special hospitals, no programs…Just removal from the community where they had to beg for help from the same people who had these views…confined to a 3x5 mat.
If anyone needed a friend it was this man. And this man did have a small group he could call friends. They would make all the difference in his life…In fact if it weren’t for his friends we’d have never heard of him. We don’t know if these friends were married or single, young or old, rich or poor, but we do know these men formed a fellowship around a mat of weakness…and they would carry their friend so God could show His strength.
I. FRIENDS OF COMPASSION (They took the time)
Jesus is teaching one day…the crowd is made up of Pharisees and teachers of the law…and people had come from every village in Galilee and the surrounding areas…no wonder…Jesus could heal sick people!
And then some men show up…We don’t even know how many…“some.” And they’re carrying another man…He’s paralyzed and on a mat.
Maybe they’d heard about Jesus…Luke 5:15 says, “The news about Jesus spread all the more, so that crowds of people come to hear Him and to be healed of their sicknesses.”
And evidently this affected our Lord, “Because Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” (v. 16)
Dealing with hurting people continuously takes it out of you emotionally and spiritual. There’s only one source to be recharged. Jesus knew that!
So these friends chose to help their friend, to carry him physically to Jesus. They took the time and effort. What would prompt them to prepare a transportable gurney…to carry their paralyzed friend through the streets and bring him to some guy’s house.
One word comes to mind…“compassion.” Webster defines it as “The desire to fix another person’s distress.”
Compassion is more than pity…Pity hurts your heart…compassion moves your feet.
Pity says to the hungry person “I’m so sorry. I hope you find a meal.” Compassion heads to the kitchen.
In Jesus’ story of the Good Samaritan both the priest and Levite saw the wounded and hurting man but because of other agendas they passed by on the other side of the road. But the Samaritan took pity and turned it into compassion. He got off his “ass” and took care of him. Compassion moves you to act…to get in the ditch, to be inconvenienced, and it can get you bloody and dirty…and cost you financially.
The paralyze man’s friends were cut from the same cloth as the Good Samaritan. They showed mercy…that’s better than just feeling pity. They desired to fix their friend’s distress…and they acted on that desire.
[The Church will never change this world if we are priests and Levites who pass by hurting people…because we’re too busy…because we’re afraid to get dirty…or because the one we need to help is a Samaritan or paralyzed. (After all they’ve sinned, right?)]
When Jesus shows back up…and I believe with all my heart He will…God’s Word is very clear…unless our belief moves us to care for the least of these in the world, we’ll find ourselves on the wrong side of the goats and sheep issue. Saying “Lord, Lord your whole life, without obeying the Father’s commands, doesn’t buy you a ticket to heaven.
It’s time for us to become:
II. “FRIENDS OF COURAGE” (They were unstoppable)
These men pack their friend up and carry him to see Jesus, but when they get there it’s packed. (I bet the Pharisees had the best seats, huh?) They can’t find a way to get their friend in the house because of the crowd.
I bet they at least thought about giving up…maybe coming back at a more convenient time. Then one of the friends becomes a visionary risk taker! His idea: “Let’s carry our buddy to the roof…make a hole…a big hole…and lower him right in front of Jesus.” (This is a compassionate engineer)
Being a part of the hole in the roof gang involved courage and trust all the way around. Because the paralyzed friend had to ask: “You’re going to do what with me? Have you tested those ropes!” What if Jesus rejects me? What about the owner of the house?”
Real ministry will either be stopped by our fear or accomplished by our faith.
When you stand at the door of real ministry you’ll find all the justifications of why it’s an inconvenient time or you’ll climb up on the roof with some friends.
Jesus spoke these words: “In this world you will have trouble…but take courage - I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
Faith is courage in action…And Hebrews 11:6 tells us it’s impossible to please God without it…If you are never uncomfortable in your life…If you never face trouble and climb up on the roof in ministry…Tell me please, how are you pleasing God? How are you trusting the One who overcomes?
Let me end today with this thought. These men were:
III. FRIENDS OF COMMITMENT (They knew Jesus was the answer)
The teachings of Jesus were disrupted by a thrashing noise, and then mud and straw falling into the crowd. As they look up through the hole some friends began to lower a man down…I really do wonder if the home owner had any comment. “What are you doing to my house?” I bet they stayed to help fix it, don’t you.
Not concerned about public scrutiny or embarrassment…not concerned with the effort it took…or the inconvenience…This fellowship of the mat only cared about 1 thing…“getting their hurting friend to Jesus for healing.” That’s commitment. “When Jesus saw their faith,” not just the paralyzed man, but his friends.
Getting people to Jesus almost involves this kind of commitment…and it almost always involves more than one friend. The Apostle Paul said, “Some plant, some water, but God gives the increase…and does it really matter who plants and who waters as long as the seed grows and there’s a harvest? But man, “The laborers willing to do this are few, according to Jesus. Why, because it takes a commitment. It takes a while for the harvest…we’d rather make speeches than be farmers.
[I personally didn’t experience the conviction of the Holy Spirit in regard to my sin until I was almost 18. I’m sure I felt guilt growing up, but usually only when I got caught or got in trouble.
I was raised by godly parents…They planted the seed in my life by having us in church every Sunday and by the way they lived. They continued to plant the seed of faith even through my teenage years and rebellion. There were others who did the same…but one day I began to have heart troubles…not physical ones, but spiritual ones. I began to think about my actions in terms of eternity. The Holy Spirit began to cut into the calloused and hardness of my soul…and as that seed began to take root…others began to water it…tend to a fledgling shoot until one day God gave the increase…January 17, 1978. Brewster baptized me on that day. My sin was buried, covered, and I rose to walk in new life. Some planted, some watered…all of us knew it was God who gave the increase. It took 17 years and 9 months…and for many of those years I looked like a hopeless seed. I thank God every day for friends who were committed and believed God’s son came for hopeless causes.]
Paralyzed people can’t walk! Potheads don’t change! Pharisees who murder people can’t be redeemed!
Jesus always deals with the most important issue first…our sin.
So, he says to the paralyzed man “Friend” (because there’s no better friend than Jesus!) “Your sins are forgiven.”
And the Pharisees grumble and say…who does he think he is…“Only God can forgive sins!”
And then Jesus does something really cool…He asks a question…which is easier to say…“Your sins are forgiven” or ask a paralyzed man to “get up and walk?”
One is easier to say than the other…“Because you can’t see forgiveness of sins…but you can sure see if a paralyzed man gets up and walks…”
So Jesus says, “So you know the Son of Man has the authority to forgive sins”…and then He turns to the paralyzed man and his friends and says…“Get up, take your mat…go on home.”
Reread LUKE 5:25-26 (p. 719)
Some friends were committed to getting their friend to Jesus…and the most important thing that happened on this day wasn’t him walking home.