AGCC Sun. a.m. 9/6/98



TEXT: Matt. 9:1-8; Mark 2:2-4

INTRO: Man's greatest problem is not economical, political, educational, socially, physically, or psychological - it is spiritual, SIN! The most fundamental truth of the Bible is that man is a sinner and that he will never find real joy until he knows the joy of sins forgiven.

What is destroying humanity man can not fix, it is something that only God can fix. This is why all of man's attempts to solve our problems will prove weak at best, and futile at worse, only God can solve the true problem of humanity. Everything else that man does is like only putting bandaids on deep wounds.

The weight of sin is enormous, and the effects of it keep people from knowing the freedom that God has for us.

ILLUS: It was the custom of ancient conquerors to prevent the escape of their prisoners by tying a dead body to their backs. With such gruesome burdens, these poor wretches could not run away. Paul may have had this in mind; so some think Romans 7:24 should read: "Oh, wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from this dead body?"

Never have more people gone to counselors, and yet never have there been times of greater depression and emotional struggles. There is only ONE "wonderful counselor, prince of peace, everlasting father" that can truly remove the onerous curse of sin.

If what the world needed most was emotional healing God would have sent a Psychologist, if what the world needed most was physical healing God would have sent a doctor, if what the world needed most was a healthy government God would have sent a politician, if what the world needed most was financial God would have sent an economist; but since the world's greatest need is forgiveness, God sent a SAVIOR!

PROP. SENT: The Bible teaches us that our greatest need is met in Christ, the need of having all our sins forgiven. For those who come to Christ the soul is reborn and set free from the tyranny of sin.

I. PARALYSIS OF SIN 9:1-2a, Mark 2:2-4

A. Consequences! 9:1-2a

1. Jesus is inside a home or small building of some kind, surrounded by a crowd.

2. Those who arrived early to check Jesus out are the religious leaders, they have the positions inside the house.

3. A paralytic man with several friends make an attempt to get to Jesus, they are looking for healing.

a. Mark's account and Luke's account add here that they could not even enter the house, so they use an outside stairway to the roof of the building and by pealing back the ceiling tiles lower their friend in to Jesus.

b. Jesus looks at this paralyzed man and instead of pronouncing physical healing Jesus forgives him of his sins!

4. The fact that Jesus forgives this man before healing him suggests that in this particular case (which was not always true) this man's illness may have been related to sin in his life sometime in the past.

a. Hence Jesus' need to forgive the sin before he can be healed physically.

b. There are other examples in Scripture were physical problems are clearly connected to sin, i.e. the child born to David and Bathsheba which became sick and died due to their adulterous affair; Mirmiam's leprosy because of her grumbling about Moses; the Israelite's illness after demanding flesh from God instead of the Manna; etc.

c. It is also very clear in Scripture however that NOT ALL sickness flows from a particular sin. Such was the case when the disciples asked Jesus who had sinned, the man's father or mother that he was born blind, and Jesus responded that neither his parents or his own sin had caused his blindness, but for God's glory to be revealed. (see John 9:2-3)

5. In this case however, the man's illness was probably related to sin, and so Jesus deals first with the cause in order to free him from the physical ailment secondly.

6. It is tragic that so many people and Christians today take sin so lightly!

a. We tend to forget that sin not only destroys our soul but that some sins can have serious physical and emotional consequences.

b. We have come to think only of sin as something that we can simply say we are sorry for later and it is all over. Yet, many times there can be continuing consequences from mild to severe.

7. Somewhere in this man's life sin had robbed him not only of his soul, but of his body.

a. Satan is always a liar and a thief, and he can take even a good man or woman and destroy them in the end if there is no repentance and forgiveness.

ILLUS: When Leonardo da Vinci was painting his masterpiece The Last Supper, he sought long for a model for his Christ. At last he located a chorister in one of the churches of Rome who was lovely in life and features, a young man named Pietro Bandinelli.

Years passed, and the painting was still unfinished. All the disciples had been portrayed save one -- Judas Iscariot. Now he started to find a man whose face was hardened and distorted by sin -- and at last he found a beggar on the streets of Rome with a face so villainous; he shuddered when he looked at him. He hired the man to sit for him as he painted the face of Judas on his canvas. When he was about to dismiss the man, he said, "I have not yet found out your name." "I am Pietro Bandinelli," he replied, "I also sat for you as your model of Christ." -- Indian Christian

b. Sin NEVER helps a man or woman!

B. Commitment! Mark 2:2-4

1. Matthew, Mark, and Luke's account demonstrate the first step toward healing for this man … FAITH in Christ.

a. This man has friends that believe that if they can just get to Jesus his life can be different, this is faith!

b. Tragically, when they arrive there is no room to even get close to Jesus, too many obstacles!

c. But faith will not accept ANY obstacle to getting to Jesus!

2. These men discover a creative way to get to Jesus through the roof!

a. If only our faith was so dynamic that when the world presents so many different obstacles to getting people to Christ that we would be like these good friends, they did not stop until they figured a way to get their friend in need to Jesus!

b. We should have the same passion today for bringing people to Christ!

(1. We have accepted way too many barriers and shrugged our shoulders way too many times in our efforts to find a way for others to get to Jesus!

(2. It is time our faith won't accept barriers, and we look for ways TO MAKE an entrance to Christ for the lost!

3. These men had too much heart to make a quick effort and then fail.

ILLUS: A recent television documentary pointed out that the cheetah survives on the African plains by running down its prey. The big cat can sprint seventy miles per hour. But the cheetah cannot sustain that pace for long. Within its long, sleek body is a disproportionately small heart, which causes the cheetah to tire quickly. Unless the cheetah catches its prey in the first flurry, it must abandon the chase.

Sometimes Christians seem to have the cheetah's approach to ministry. We speed into projects with great energy. But lacking the heart for sustained effort, we fizzle before we finish. We vow to start faster and run harder, when what we need may be not more speed but more staying power--stamina that comes only from a bigger heart. Motion and busyness, no matter how great, yield nothing unless we allow God to give us the heart. -- Grant Lovejoy, Lake Dallas, Texas. Leadership, Vol. 7, no. 3.

4. They made a way to Jesus, there was no turning back!

a. Ironic that the so called "righteous religious leaders" had the preferred seating near Christ inside while those who were in real need couldn't get to Jesus because they were blocked by the "righteous" souls!!!

b. These so called righteous leaders should have been finding people in need to bring to Jesus instead of showing up to determine whether Jesus' teaching was orthodox or not. Like many today, they think a proper education will solve man's problems instead of a cleansed heart.

5. This sin sick man however is about to find the greatest prize of his life!


A. Cleansing 9:2b

1. Jesus quickly addresses the man's PRIMARY need .. forgiveness of sin!

a. It must have surprised some in the room, no doubt they thought a paralyzed man coming through the roof to Jesus was there to get physical healing.

b. Jesus however knows that physical healing would mean nothing if this man's soul stayed lost!

2. The greatest need of people when they sin is not to first get rid of the consequences, but to get rid of the sin!

a. This requires faith

b. This requires repentance

3. If Jesus had simply healed the man's physical condition, he would have remained a sinner, perhaps even the sickness would have returned, the sin must be dealt with first!

4. So Jesus joyously pardons the man of all sin, he is cleansed and set free!

B. Callous! 9:3-4

1. The only greater miracle that could have taken place in that room would have been the salvation of those religious leaders!!

a. As soon as they hear Jesus forgive this man of his sins, they immediately become angry at Jesus for putting Himself on equal terms with God!

b. Rather than consider this possibility they are more concerned about their own standing than this sick man's need in front of them!

2. At least this sick man realized his need of Christ, he will do anything to get to Jesus!

3. The proud and insolent "teachers of the Law" here however can't see their own need, their cleansing would be greater but they can't even see it!

ILLUS: A large prosperous downtown church had three mission churches under its care that it had started. On the first Sunday of the New Year all the members of the mission churches came to the city church for a combined Communion service. In those mission churches, which were located in the slums of the city, were some outstanding cases of conversions--thieves, burglars, and so on--but all knelt side by side at the Communion rail. On one such occasion the pastor saw a former burglar kneeling beside a judge of the Supreme Court of England--the judge who had sent him to jail where he had served seven years. After his release this burglar had been converted and become a Christian worker. Yet, as they knelt there, the judge and the former convict, neither one seemed to be aware of the other.

After the service, the judge was walking home with the pastor and said to the pastor, "Did you notice who was kneeling beside me at the Communion rail this morning?"

The pastor replied, "Yes, but I didn't know that you noticed." The two walked along in silence for a few more moments, and then the judge said, "What a miracle of grace." The pastor nodded in agreement. "Yes, what a marvelous miracle of grace." Then the judge said "But to whom do you refer?" And the pastor said, "Why, to the conversion of that convict." The judge said, "But I was not referring to him. I was thinking of myself" The pastor, surprised, replied, "You were thinking of yourself? I don't understand." "Yes," the judge replied, "it did not cost that burglar much to get converted when he came out of jail. He had nothing but a history of crime behind him, and when he saw Jesus as his Savior he knew there was salvation and hope and joy for him. And he knew how much he needed that help. But look at me. I was taught from earliest infancy to live as a gentleman; that my word was to be my bond; that I was to say my prayers, go to church, take Communion and so on. I went through Oxford, took my degrees, was called to the bar and eventually became a judge. Pastor, nothing but the grace of God could have caused me to admit that I was a sinner on a level with that burglar. It took much more grace to forgive me for all my pride and self-deception, to get me to admit that I was no better in the eyes of God than that convict that I had sent to prison. --James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988) p. 257.

4. In some ways, the "teachers of the Law" were the ones most in need of spiritual healing, but their pride prevented it.

a. Even when Jesus clearly tells them their hearts and minds are "evil" they ignore Him.

b. As a challenge to them, Jesus offers up an "logical" proposition, since logic and no heart is all they seem to have….

(1. Jesus asks them what is easier to say, "Your sins be forgiven" or "get up and walk"?

(2. Their true sinful hearts are about to be revealed to all, and so is the true character of Christ!

5. They have no choice but to accept such logic … and yet this too may not be enough to get them to repent!

a. It is only when our pride is swallowed that we truly repent!

b. It is only when we truly repent that we are forgiven!

c. It is only when we are forgiven that we are saved!

6. The REAL paralyzed people in the room were the "teachers of the law", not the man on the mat!

C. Compassion 9:5-8

1. Jesus now turns AWAY from the unbelievers and with compassion looks on this forgiven man and now heals him physically as well!

a. Jesus demonstrates that His authority to forgive is equal to His authority to heal!

b. While they may have dismissed his pronouncement of forgiveness since nothing could be seen to prove it, they could not dismiss his power to heal a paralyzed man when they saw him get up and walk again!

2. Jesus asks the healed man to "take up his mat and go home"

a. probably didn't want him hanging around these insolent teachers of the law lest they corrupt this new forgiven disciple!

b. Jesus also wants this man to carry home his mat, what was once a mat of sorrow will now be a mat of sweet sleep!

(1. Every time he would lay down to sleep on this mat he would be reminded of the bondage Christ delivered him from.

(2. It would no longer be a place of bondage, but now a place of rest.

3. The teachers of the law had done nothing to help this man, though they claimed Godly knowledge!

a. The world needs evangelists more than it needs experts!

ILLUS: C. Ray Dobbins, Editor of Cumberland Presbyterian, was on a plane and his seatmate told him of riding a plane recently from Miami on which there were 65 psychiatrists traveling home from a convention. During the flight a woman became ill and mentally upset, yet none of the doctors offered to help. The plane had to put down in Nashville so they could take the woman to the hospital. His companion's comment was, "Life is like that." There is a great deal of intelligence and expertise in this world but often it is of no help in the face of human needs. The response of most Christians is many times the same. We see great spiritual need. As Christians we have the answer to help. In fact, we go to great lengths to say that we have what this world needs, but in many situations we continue unresponsive. We sit in another section and assume that we are guiltless. Where is the courage to care?

b. How about us, are we better at debating scriptures or delivering sinners ?

4. The crowd burst into praise to God, they understood that what Jesus had just done was the real need of humanity.

5. There is no better gift to know than the forgiveness of sins that come through Jesus Christ our Lord … have you come to Him for forgiveness yet?

CONCLUSION: A man crippled by sin could not get to Jesus without help from some friends who also had faith that Jesus could make a difference. In finding a creative way to get to Jesus they not only found a SAVIOR to heal the body, but also a SAVIOR to heal the soul. No freedom is greater than the soul that knows forgiveness! What healing is to the body, forgiveness is to the soul. You too can experience God's forgiveness, get to Jesus any way you can!