Summary: The best help you can give is to remove any hindrances so people can come to Christ.
The Best Help You Can Give
Rev. Brian Bill
November 7-8, 2015
Have you ever been in a place that was so crowded you could barely move? Where was that for you? For me it was every time I rode the Metro (subway) in Mexico City when we lived there for three years. I never thought I was claustrophobic but I think that was where my phobia first got its start.
As we continue in our series through the gospel penned by Mark and inspired by God, we see again that Jesus is drawing huge crowds. Here’s where we’re headed today. We’re going to walk through an incredible encounter that takes place in Mark 2:1-12. I’ll read the passage, adding some interpretative insight and application as we go along. When we’re finished with the text we’ll focus on some takeaways and then we’ll celebrate communion. To help with the flow of thought, I’ve adapted an outline from John Stevenson for the first part of the sermon.
1. Setting. Let’s begin in Mark 2:1-2: “And when he returned to Capernaum after some days, [Jesus has been on a preaching mission in Galilee for many weeks, and now comes back to his home base] it was reported that he was at home [this is likely Peter and Andrew’s house, where Peter’s mother-in-law had been healed]. And many were gathered together, so that there was no more room, not even at the door. [Jesus was like a magnet to the crowds. There were so many people gathered that there was no way anyone else could get close. The use of the double negative intensifies the situation – it was packed inside and it was a traffic jam outside].
And he was preaching the word to them.” [This is the word for conversation, not “preaching” per se. It speaks of “lovely sounds.” This reminds me of the lyrics from “In the Garden” – “He speaks and the sound of his voice is so sweet, the birds hush their singing.” It’s important for us to not just preach at people but to also be able to dialog and discuss, using pleasing words].
2. Sickness. Let’s continue in verses 3-4: “And they came, bringing [carrying] to him a paralytic [this word describes someone who has lost control of his body either through a stroke, a disease, or from birth] carried by four men [each holding a corner of the mat he was on]. And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, [that had to have been disappointing] they removed [uncovered, literally “unroofed the roof”] the roof above him [houses had flat roofs that served like a patio with an outside stairway], and when they had made an opening, [roofs were made out of a combination of thatch, mortar, tar, sand, branches, and mud].
[Can you imagine if a hole appeared in the ceiling right now? We’d all look up and the dust and the debris would be falling on us. The hole would have been made big enough to let the man down through it] they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay. [The man would have been laid at Jesus’ feet. There was no doubt a hush in the house. Imagine if you looked up and saw a man being lowered through the roof right now! That would be distraction, wouldn’t it? Most of us lose focus when someone comes in late or leaves to use the restroom.]
3. Startling Statement. In verse 5 we read: “And when Jesus saw their faith [Jesus was not bothered by the interruption at all. This is the first appearance of “faith” in Mark’s gospel. Notice that Jesus saw “their faith.” We’ll come back to this in a few minutes], he said to the paralytic, ‘Son, [this was a term of deep affection similar to saying, “My child.” Matthew 9:2 includes this phrase, “Take heart, my son…”] your sins are forgiven.” [To forgive sins means to send them away; to cancel a debt. This is quite startling because it was assumed that this man’s main need was to be healed of his paralysis. But actually that was his felt need; his foremost need was to be forgiven for his sins. Forgiveness of sin is at the heart of Christianity and is its greatest miracle because it lasts forever].
4. Skepticism of the Scribes. The main job of the scribes was to copy the Scriptures and to be guardians of God’s Word. That’s probably why they were in the house in the first place because they were checking to make sure that what Jesus was saying lined up with Scripture. Look at verses 6-7: “Now some of the scribes were sitting there [It’s interesting that in this SRO crowd (“Standing Room Only”), the scribes are seated, as if in judgment. This shows us that there are followers and foes in the room], questioning in their hearts [note that they didn’t say any of this out loud], ‘Why does this man speak like that? [BTW, each episode of controversy in this chapter is provoked by a question about the behavior of Jesus or the disciples] He is blaspheming! [This charge is repeated in Mark 14:61-64 as rationale for Jesus eventually being put to death] Who can forgive sins but God alone?”