Summary: What is the best way to get people to come to church? Is inviting good enough, or is there a better way?
OPEN: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yI7ox_0j-Y0 (First 40 seconds)
Back in early 1960s, President John F. Kennedy set a vision before America “We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win…”
Within that decade NASA succeeded in sending a ship into space that orbited and sent a lunar lander to the surface of the moon. For the first time, man set foot on a celestial body other than earth.
Now, nearly 50 years later, America has a new dream. A new vision. NASA plans to send a manned landing craft to the planet Mars within the next few years.
Obviously this is a huge undertaking.
The orbits of Earth and Mars are such that only once every 2 years is Mars close enough for us to consider sending a spaceship there. And even then (at our present rates of speed in space) is roughly it would be an 8 month trip. That also means that once a human crew reached Mars they would have to wait another 2 years before they could make the trip back home. So, it would take 8 months to get there, 8 months to get back and roughly 2 years waiting for opportunity to make the return trip… that’s about 3 ½ years. That’s a really long time… and it’s a very dangerous and complicated mission.
Of course, they’re not going to do that for a while.
1st NASA intends to experiment with setting up a manned colony on the moon. Then they’ll also be working at creating more powerful and faster methods of travel. And they’ll send unmanned ships to Mars to set up a place to live once our astronauts make the journey.
But the key thing is this: NASA has a mission.
They know what they’re going to do
And they will do whatever is necessary to attain that goal.
It may be expensive, difficult, and dangerous but they will not waver in their determination to reach their objective.
And that brings us to our story this morning.
Today we read about 4 men who were on a mission.
Their friend was paralyzed and these men were convinced that Jesus could heal him.
Now this is the 1st year of Jesus’ ministry.
Ever since the Sermon on the Mount, He’s been out preaching, teaching, and healing, and it seems that every time people know He’s in the area, they surround Him. They literally mob Him.
And now Jesus has come to Capernaum and again He’s surrounded by crowds.
In fact He’s teaching inside a home and it is packed with people.
(PAUSE) And there’s this… paralytic.
As you read the story you almost sense the desperation and urgency in their actions. They have GOT to get into see Jesus. They don’t want to wait. They won’t be put off. Because if they wait, they might miss Him….
I’m sensing from their urgency that this paralytic had tried to get to Jesus before. Perhaps, he had just missed Him days before when Jesus got on a boat and crossed over to the other side of Sea of Galilee.
But now, Jesus is BACK. And this man and his friends know where He’s at and they’ve rushed to that place to find Him.
They’ve got to see Jesus.
They CAN’T risk Jesus getting away again before their friend has had a chance to be touched by Jesus and healed. And here they’ve finally caught up with Jesus… but they can’t get thru!
There’s no room in the house.
They can’t get close to the door.
They can’t even get close to the windows because of the crowd.
So they sit down together and they begin to talk.
There’s no room in the house.
People are crowding the door and they are blocking windows.
"How are we going to get in there?" they wonder.
Then one of them looks over at the house and says "well, there’s nobody up on the roof!!!” And everybody looks at him in surprise, because they all know what he’s thinking.
“I wonder... if we could dig a hole in the roof, then, we could let him down in front of Jesus."
Another friend scoffs "... but we can’t just drop him thru the hole! How are we going to lower him safely to the floor?" Still a third says "If we had ropes... maybe we could lower him down through the roof. Yeah, ropes would do it!”
And off they go in search of ropes to use for their friend.