Our gospel reading today
looks at how four men responded to the need of one man, and
how they made a difference in his life.
And this is an appropriate
story for today as we celebrate Mother's day and recognize
what a difference Mother's make in the lives of their
Although our scripture from
Mark this morning deals with men it's not difficult to see how
this story really speaks of both men and women and our roles
as Christ's followers.
The scene described is a
familiar one. Jesus is back at His headquarters in Capernaum
in a house preparing to preach. The crowds are literally
pushing and shoving to enter the house to hear Jesus. As Mark
explains it, "So many gathered around that there was no longer
room for them, not even in front of the door..." (2:2).
Lets take a closer look at
the four men who brought the paralyzed man to Christ, and what
a difference they made in his life through their unselfish act
Not much is known of these
men but chances are they were not much different then you or
I. They were probably not known as men who achieved great
things, yet they did make a huge difference in the life of the
Have you ever asked yourself,
what can I do to make a difference in this world? I think
we've all asked ourselves this question, or one similar, at
some point in our lives, and perhaps more than once.
Many feel that in order to
make a difference you need to devote your life to some great
cause. And there are many great causes to which a person can
devote their life.
Some say diplomacy is life's
greatest contribution. What a blessing it would be if you
could stop all the wars and bring peace to the world. Can you
imagine what would happen if the world took the over one
trillion dollars it spent on military weapons this year and
spent it instead on feeding the hungry, clothing the poor, and
finding a cure for life threatening diseases?
In fact some would argue that
the most significant contributions to our world would be in
the field of medicine. Can you think of a greater achievement
than finding a cure for cancer, Aids, heart disease, strokes,
diabetes, and others? Just think about how cures for these
tragic diseases would positively impact the life expectancy
rate for people around the world.
There are those who say
philanthropy is life's greatest achievement. Wouldn't it be
great to be rich and to be able to pay for peace; to pay for
food and clothing; and to finance the research and cure for
all of the various diseases that afflict people every day.
I don't think anybody could,
or would, argue that these would all be noble causes to which
one can dedicate their life. And it's true these individuals
would make a difference in the world we live.
But I submit to you that our
scripture reading today provides us with the best answer to
the question, what is the one thing I can do to make a
difference in the world? Our scripture reading speaks of a man
immobile, weak, and not capable of coming to Jesus on his own.
He had to be brought by four men who loved him enough to take
him to Jesus.
This man, and what happened
to him, is an illustration of the greatest thing we can do for
another person, and that is lifting them up and bringing them
to Jesus Christ.
After all, what is more
important, the sickness of the body, or the sickness of the
soul. To lose one's wealth is sad. To lose one's health is
sadder yet. But to lose one's soul is such a loss, that no
person can restore it, only God can.
Now of course there were
problems that hindered this man and obstacles that kept him
from coming to the Lord. Verse 3 describes this man as being
paralyzed. On his own he was not capable of coming to Jesus.
Likewise, he represents every person who is lost without
This world is filled with
Spiritual cripples who are lost, who need the Lord, but will
never come unless they are brought to Him. Keep in mind this
man was not only paralyzed by sickness but he was paralyzed by
sin. Remember the first thing Jesus says to the man in verse
5, "Son, your sins are forgiven."
This man's primary problem
was not physical, it was spiritual, and Jesus knew that.
Likewise our world today is full of people who are disabled by
corruption, immobilized by wickedness, and who left to
themselves will never come to know Jesus. These are people we
need to reach out to.
The Crowd Now lets consider
the crowd who gathered to listen to Jesus. Even if the man
could have gotten up and walked he could not have gotten in to
the house where Jesus was located. Verses 2 and 4 tell us that
there was a great crowd that had gathered, and had moved into
the little house where the Lord Jesus was preaching. They had
taken all of the seats in the house. They were standing
outside the doorway and no one could get in.
Now I'm sure that the men who
were carrying this paralyzed man tried to push and plead their
way through the crowd, but nobody would move. Here was an army
keeping its own wounded from the infirmary. You see this crowd
cared more about having a seat then they cared about the
welfare of the man. They were self-centered rather than
spiritual-centered. It's unfortunate but as we know there are
people today who confess to be Christians but do not live a
Christ-centered life. They are more concerned with themselves
then they are for the well being of others.
Are we a stepping-stone to
Christ or a stumbling block? We all need to carefully evaluate
our lives to ensure we are stepping-stones. Our mission as
Christians, and as a united church, is to make disciples of
Obstacles Lets address the
issue of obstacles. Along the way, no matter how hard we work
to bring people to Jesus, we will run into obstacles. This was
the case for the paralyzed man as well. I believe the biggest
obstacle this man ran into was not the crowd or his crippling
disease, but rather were the Scribes and Pharisees.
You see they weren't
interested in anybody being healed, much less saved. They were
interested in finding something negative and critical about
Jesus. Instead of enjoying the miracle, they were sitting
there reasoning in their hearts saying, "Why does this Man
speak blasphemies like this? Who can forgive sins but God
I believe that the greatest
obstacles today that prevent people from coming to know Christ
are not the atheists, the agnostics, or other non-Christian
The greatest obstacles to
people coming to Christ are those who profess to be Christians
but by their attitude, words, and deeds give a lost person
every reason not to come to Jesus.
These are the "Christians"
that look for things to complain about within the church, much
like the Scribes in our scripture reading. These are the
Christians that may or may not come to worship on Sunday,
these are the Christians that do not get actively involved in
the church's ministries, and these are the Christians that
deny Christ by there very lifestyle.
In other words they may be
Christians, as defined by Webster's Dictionary, but they are
not spirit-filled Christians as defined by Christ.
In many ways we Christians
can be our own worse enemies. Instead of focusing on living
our lives as Jesus would, we succumb to earthly pressures and
We are human so we will make
mistakes and we will lose our Christian focus sometimes. But
as a community of believers we need to continually lift each
other up, encourage one another, commit and dedicate our lives
to doing the Lord's work, and to actively care for and love
each other as our father in heaven loves us.
The best way to lead people
to Christ is by living a Christ-centered life, and by
witnessing to them about how wonderful it is to have a
personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Simply put we
Christians need to walk the talk.
Now lets consider the four
people who helped the man come to Jesus. First, they were
concerned and cared about their friend. You see the first step
to sharing is caring. Meaning no matter how much we have to
share, if we don't care we will never share. These men cared
enough about this man to go and get him and bring him to
We all need to ask ourselves,
am I concerned? Do I care about others? Do I want to help
others come to know the love and joy a relationship with Jesus
Christ can bring? Do I share the good news with others? These
are all questions each of us should think and pray about while
opening our hearts and minds to the guidance of the Holy
I believe if we each think
long and hard about it, we came to know Jesus Christ as our
savior because someone cared enough about us to share God's
greatest gift to humanity with us.
It may have been our mothers
or fathers, it may have been a friend, it may have been a
pastor or Sunday School teacher, or it may have been a person
we didn't even know, who simply shared the love of Christ with
us in a very simple way.. But somebody was concerned enough to
bring you to Jesus.
We need to be faithful
witnesses for others. Why do we shy away from telling others
about the good news? We don't hesitate to tell our friends
about an excellent restaurant we tried, or a great website we
found on the Internet. Why is it so difficult for us to share
our faith with others?
Are we ashamed? Are we afraid
of being labeled or made fun of? What are the roadblocks in
our lives that keep us from proclaiming the good news to
As we strive to fulfill the
mission of the church we will run into obstacles and
roadblocks, much like the four men did. They couldn't get
through the crowds and were forced to climb to the roof of the
house where they cut a hole to lower the man down through the
roof toward Jesus.
They didn't care about
criticism. They didn't care about rejection. They didn't care
what people thought. They were just determined to get this man
to Jesus. How I wish we all had that kind of attitude and
commitment. If we did no obstacle would be too great.
Unity As we look closer at
the scripture reading, verse 3 tells us that all four of these
men were bringing the paralyzed man to the Lord. Lets not miss
the point that they did it together. One man alone couldn't
have done it.
What would have happened if
just one of the four men had let down and not done his part.
If one man had let go of a corner of the mat, the man would
have fallen. It took all four of these men to bring their
friend to Jesus.
As a church family we need to
be unified in this matter of reaching out to people. I am
convinced that the most powerful force on earth is a church
that truly stands together, hand-in-hand and heart-to-heart
with the single purpose of bringing people to the Lord Jesus
Christ. There is such tremendous power in unity.
Verse 5 is also very
interesting. It says, "When Jesus saw their faith, He said to
the paralyzed man, 'Son, your sins are forgiven.'" This is an
amazing statement. Let me restate it "When Jesus saw their
faith, He said to the paralyzed man, 'Son, your sins are
You see Jesus forgave this
man and healed this man not because of his faith, but because
of the four men's faith. It will be a great day when every
Christian wakes up and realizes and believes that God can use
them to help others come to know His Son. God can use all of
us to bring people to Jesus if we will just believe that He
Lets now look at the person
who healed the paralyzed man. Notice that the paralyzed man
was brought to Jesus. If they had brought this man to the
synagogue he would have died a cripple. If they had brought
this man to the religious leaders of that day he would have
died a cripple. But they brought him to Jesus and Jesus healed
him. In this one episode we learn some wonderful things about
First we learn how he healed
the man's sickness. Secondly, we are told that Jesus was
preaching the word unto them, but yet the Lord stops his
sermon so He can minister to one man. This tells us that
salvation through Jesus Christ is granted to individuals that
seek Him, not to the multitudes that gather around just to
hear Him. Jesus healed the man not the crowd.
In other words salvation is
not granted to us because we gather at worship on Sunday,
although worship is important for other reasons. Salvation
comes to us as individuals when we seek a personal
relationship with Jesus Christ.
Now some may say, "What is
the big deal in bringing one person to Jesus when there are
millions that are lost? What difference does it make?"
There's a story about a storm
that had come up on a beach and thousands of starfish had been
washed up onto the shore by the rough tide. After the storm a
man was walking along the beach when he noticed a figure off
in the distance.
As he got closer, he realized
the figure was that of a young girl picking something up and
gently throwing it into the ocean. Approaching the girl, he
asked, "what are you doing?"
The young girl replied,
"Throwing a starfish into the ocean. The sun is up and the
tide is going out. If I don't throw them back, they'll die."
"Young lady," the man said,
"don't you realize there are miles and miles of beach and
thousands of starfish? You can't possibly make a difference!"
After listening politely, the girl bent down, picked up
another starfish, and threw it into the surf. Then, smiling at
the man, she said, "I made a difference to that one."
Jesus preached to the
multitude, but healed one man. We are called to be a conduit
to Jesus and to bring people to Him one by one, because each
person does make a difference.
Imagine if each of us brought
two people to Jesus and each of them brought two, and so on
and so forth. Before to long millions of people will come to
know the love and saving grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus
We all can make a difference
in this world, and I pray by the power of the Holy Spirit we
Read other messages by Pastor Wade