HUMILITY AND UNITY
BRINGING A SICK WORLD TO CHRIST - Part 1 of 2
Mark 2:1-12 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 paralysed 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!"
(Also see Luke 5:18-25)
Do we want to be effective in bringing the sinful, the sick, the shackled and the sad to Jesus’ feet? We have started to do this, but do we want to become more effective? I believe that every one of us who knows the salvation and freedom of being ‘in Christ’ will say, “Yes!”
A. WHAT IS IMPORTANT?
We need to study the qualities of the four men mentioned in this passage, who set out to take their sick friend from a place of sickness, sadness and being shackled and sinful, to Christ’s feet.
It is important to realise that this paralysed man was not supernaturally transported from his place of death to the place of life. It took his friends to pick him up, put him on a stretcher and take him to Jesus. We have no idea from how far they came; yet these men needed some characteristics that we need to study, so that we too may take the needy from sin to life, from death to life, from sadness to joy, from sickness to health.
The paralysed man is a picture of a world in a desperate state, a world that is diseased, disabled and dying. His four friends provide the picture of its only hope.
The politicians are not the hope of this world; the New Age movement is not the hope of this sick and dying world; religion is not the hope of this desperate, dying, spiritually disabled world.
The only hope for this world is when the church picks the people up on a stretcher and brings them to the feet of Jesus. This responsibility rests with us all.
B. RESPONSIBILITY OF STRETCHER-BEARERS
To be effective, we must accept our responsibility to be stretcher-bearers for the people in this sick world, or God will hold us accountable for their blood.
Ezek 33:1-11 The word of the LORD came to me: 2 "Son of man, speak to your countrymen and say to them: 'When I bring the sword against a land, and the people of the land choose one of their men and make him their watchman, 3 and he sees the sword coming against the land and blows the trumpet to warn the people, 4 then if anyone hears the trumpet but does not take warning and the sword comes and takes his life, his blood will be on his own head. 5 Since he heard the sound of the trumpet but did not take warning, his blood will be on his own head. If he had taken warning, he would have saved himself. 6 But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet to warn the people and the sword comes and takes the life of one of them, that man will be taken away because of his sin, but I will hold the watchman accountable for his blood.'
7 "Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. 8 When I say to the wicked, 'O wicked man, you will surely die,' and you do not speak out to dissuade him from his ways, that wicked man will die for his sin, and I will hold you accountable for his blood. 9 But if you do warn the wicked man to turn from his ways and he does not do so, he will die for his sin, but you will have saved yourself. 10 "Son of man, say to the house of Israel, 'This is what you are saying: "Our offences and sins weigh us down, and we are wasting away because of them. How then can we live?"' 11 Say to them, 'As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, O house of Israel?'
God has made us – Church - to be the world’s only hope and the four men in the Mark 2:1-12 passage give us a visual image of the essential qualities we need ... let’s emphasise the ‘we’:
* Church Pastors are not the stretcher-bearers, all of us are - Eph 4:12.
* Elders are not in this task of soul winning on their own; all of us are - Eph 4:12.
* Group Leaders do not work here on their own; all of us must have a role - Eph 4:12.
Do you see the consistency in Eph 4:12? We are all responsible to bring the English-speaking people in this nation to the feet of Jesus Christ.
2. CHARACTERISTICS REQUIRED TO BRING A SICK WORLD TO JESUS
As we consider this passage, use your imagination to get under the skin of these people:
a. It is only through Jesus
b. We need to be in Unity
A. IT IS ONLY THROUGH JESUS!
As a group of stretcher-bearers, the four men needed a specific revelation, in order to get the sick man to Christ.
Their friend’s need could only be met at the feet of Jesus. This is true for everything and everyone and maybe we have forgotten this absolute truth. These men realised this; they realised they could not heal him. All they could do was to carry him to Jesus.
* It was not their skill that healed the paralytic man, it was the Saviour
* It was not their strength that healed the man, it was the Saviour
* It was not the stretcher that healed the man, it was the Saviour
Nothing that we have can heal the people.
The activities we do as church are important, and we should strive to be excellent in our music, singing, fellowship, follow-up, discipleship training, teaching, our ministry and intercessory prayer - indeed in everything that we do. Yet, never forget that these things by themselves do not heal the people. They are only the stretcher! Only Jesus heals and saves the people.
B. WE NEED TO BE IN UNITY
We often just make the statement, “We need to be in unity.” That does sound fine, but words are not enough. We need to know how to achieve it? If we do not achieve it, our words are just a religious statement.
When we are all in place, using our talents and spiritual gifts, we can, as an example, take the stretcher of praise and worship and carry an unsaved person into the very presence of God. However, this only happens when we work together in unity, all doing our part, not criticising each another, giving thanks to God wherever we sit or stand, because the person next to us could be sick and dying.
1. WHY IS CRITICISM SO DANGEROUS?
If we are criticising and not doing our God-given part, or if we refuse to take our place in the church, to take up that stretcher, it could be that a sick, unsaved person could so easily fall off the stretcher, because we are acting in an ungodly manner.
As long as we argue about the stretcher, we will not care about the condition of the man on the stretcher. We need to be totally together in our mission to bring a sick, sad, shackled, sinful world to the feet of Jesus.
3. HOW IS UNITY ACHIEVED?
a. Don’t care who takes the credit
b. Walk in step
c. Walk in the same direction
d. Kill the flesh
e. Keep the stretcher balanced
A. DON’T CARE WHO TAKES THE CREDIT
Mark 2:5 When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "Son, your sins are forgiven."
Normally, you would expect that one of the four probably had the initial idea to help their friend. You do not usually have four people coming up with the same idea at the same time.
Imagine if one guy had the idea and kept it to himself. Think of him trying to carry the paralysed man, by himself, on his back. They would have never made it to Jesus. Yet, it has been like this for so long in churches, where the few leaders have nervous breakdowns, because they think they have to carry the whole thing on their own.
We must break these paradigms, these boxes, where, “The Pastor’s job is to do it all,” or “It’s the Elders job to do this and this and this.”
You cannot expect one person, or a small group of people, to do everything. That is why Paul is so strong when he states the purpose of, New Testament leadership.
Eph 4:11-12 It was He who gave [leadership] some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists and some to be pastors and teachers, 12 to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up.
1. THE EXAMPLE OF PHILIP IN SAMARIA
Acts 8:5-8 Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Christ there. 6 When the crowds heard Philip and saw the miraculous signs he did, they all paid close attention to what he said. 7 With shrieks, evil spirits came out of many and many paralytics and cripples were healed. 8 So there was great joy in that city.
He was a fantastic evangelist. It was a tremendously powerful revival in Samaria, where the people were saved and healed; the dead were raised. Nevertheless, Philip could not lead the people into the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. The Jerusalem church had to send Peter and John down. Philip could not do it all on his own.
When you get one person who thinks he can do it all and thinks, “I won’t share this with anyone, I’m doing it all.” first he will die young, second, the church will be impoverished because the Gifts will not be released.
Who cares who gets the glory; who cares who gets the credit. For the four men, their desire for unity was so strong that they did not want any credit or glory. All they wanted was to get their sick friend to the feet of the Saviour. Do we feel the same about this Nation?
B. WALK IN STEP
Imagine the four men walking out of step carrying a stretcher. One walking in big strides, one in little steps, one pulling to the left, the other to the right! The only way to be sure of getting the stretcher to its destination is to walk in step.
The reason for the success of the early church in bringing people to Jesus - in described in one word - ‘together’.
1. WE MUST WALK TOGETHER
Acts 2:1 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place.
Acts 2:43-44 Everyone was filled with awe and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common.
Acts 4:24 When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. "Sovereign Lord," they said, "you made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them.
When the church comes together, there is power! The church’s meetings are no longer places where people try to show who knows the Bible most, or who can pray the longest. It is a time when God touches the earth.
Acts 4:31-33 After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly. 32 All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had. 33 With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus and much grace was upon them all.
2. WE MUST WALK IN STEP IN 3 SPECIFIC AREAS
a. Walk in step with God - this produces an open heaven (no hindrance to prayer)
b. Walk in step with yourself - this produces an open heart (no hidden agenda, no guile)
c. Walk in step with each other - this produces an open hand (don’t try to hold on to ministry/responsibility)
These, in turn, produce an open door for people to come to the feet of Jesus and get healed, saved, delivered, filled with the Holy Ghost, receive wisdom for their problems, deliverance from depression and are set free.
C. WALK IN THE SAME DIRECTION
Does that not that make sense! If we all want to go in our own directions, the person on the stretcher will end up dying, because all we will do is go round in circles, or we will drop him.
One explanation of ‘unity’ is, “All walking in the same direction.” If you do not agree with the direction for this local church, then you need to find one that you can agree with. To help you understand our direction, we give you information, in our Discipleship course. This identifies our vision, so you can know if this fellowship is where God wants you to serve Him (see Amos 3:3 Do two walk together unless they have agreed to do so?)
For the four men, there was only one direction they were heading and that was to the feet of Jesus and because they had one vision and one direction, they got their sick friend there.
It is the same for this church; as we move in the same direction, we will bring the sick, the shackled, the sad and the sinful to the feet of Jesus.
D. KILL THE FLESH
These men were totally unselfish. They did not seek ministry from Jesus for themselves and they were there right near to Jesus, so they could have left their friend for a moment while they went in to have their needs dealt with. But, they focused on the reason for which they had come – to get their sick friend healed at the feet of Jesus.
Jesus could see the motives inside these men’s hearts. Verse 5 of the passage says, “When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven.’” He had seen their unselfishness.
E. KEEP THE STRETCHER BALANCED
The reason why many churches are not effective in bringing people to the Cross is that they do not preach a balanced message. Imagine if these men had not balanced the stretcher … the poor sick man would have been off it – bang!
1. WE HAVE TO BE BALANCED IN OUR GEOGRAPHY
Our vision is to the English- speaking peoples, but in that group, the Gospel must be preached and lived to all the homosexuals, adulterers, atheists, backsliders etc. There is not a section of society that we can exclude, since Christ died for us all.
2. WE HAVE TO BE BALANCED IN OUR THEOLOGY
We have to present the four moral attributes of God, who is perfectly:
- Full of love
If you preach a lop-sided God, you preach a lop-sided theology. Then you can guess what happens. The stretcher will tilt and the person on the stretcher falls off.
3. WE NEED TO BE BALANCED IN OUR CHRISTOLOGY
The four Gospels present Christ from four perspectives. Some churches preach only one side of Jesus, e.g. ‘Saviour and coming King’, but they will not preach Him as ‘Healer and Baptiser in the Holy Ghost’. Here the stretcher is unbalanced.
* Follow the Gospels
We need to follow the Gospels, which show four characters of Jesus:
1. In Matthew, we see Christ as ‘King’, declaring His sovereignty – He is someone you can trust!
2. In Mark, we see Christ as ‘Son of Man’, declaring His humanity – He is someone who understands.
3. In Luke, we see Christ as ‘Saviour’, presenting His ministry – He can meet every single need.
4. In John, we see Christ as ‘Son of God’, declaring His divinity – He stands before God representing this sinful World for everyone
* Are you out of step with God? Have you wondered why your prayers are not answered? It is a closed heaven.
God loves you and is here to help you. Walk in step with Him and experience an open heaven.
* Are you out of step with yourselves? You cannot live in the present because you are crippled by the past - you have a closed heart.
You cannot forgive yourself; you cannot get over a crucial issue in your life. You are out of step with yourself, you have closed up and your ministry is stagnant. God is here to help you. He will help you walk in step with yourself – you cannot love somebody else, if you do not love yourself. How will you love the lost when you are wrapped up with what is happening in your own life?
* Are you out of step with each other? Then you have a closed hand.
This is your fellowship! When you meet one another, you need to be open, not hiding your feelings, or your talents/abilities. We can help each another and in doing so we can help the lost and hurting.
Unless we each have an open heaven, an open heart and an open hand, we will never see an open door into this Nation.