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"Friends and Faith"

Mark 2:1-12

Mark 2:1-12, “A few days later when Jesus again entered Capernaum the people heard that he had come home.  So many gathered that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them.  Some men came, bringing to him a paralytic, carried by four of them.  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 paralyzed man was lying on.  When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”  Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, “Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming!  Who can forgive sins but God alone?”  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?  Which is easier: to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk?’  But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins he said to the paralytic, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.”  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!’” 

 

Under Whose Authority Are You Saying This?

 

Quite an interesting account here in the pages of Mark.  Many times people want to know by whose authority am I preaching.  Someone said to me recently, “What authority do you have to say those things to me?”  Now, while I’m not taken aback by some questions, because I realize that sometimes people just want to know the truth.  Sometimes people like to put you on the spot as they did with Jesus, so it’s nothing new.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people say “I don’t like the way the church is organized now.  In fact, I don't trust anything that any man does under the name of religion.”  Well, brethren, let me tell you something.  It’s God the Father who is our authority, period.  No matter what we do in this life, no matter what line of work we’re in, no matter what type of background we have, no matter what race or culture we are or come from, it is God the Father who is our authority--God the Father.  Now while that may sound simple enough, it’s not understood readily, is it?  In today’s gospel message we focus on that very same principle, the principle of authority.  It is only God who has authority.  And he extends that authority to Jesus Christ.  Jesus seemed to provoke, almost deliberately, the teachers of the law, by saying to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”  And as a result this required them to look at the issue of authority from which Jesus spoke.  Now this particular lesson in Mark 2 focuses on a number of things.  It focuses on the divinity and authority of Jesus Christ.  Mark quotes Jesus as saying “Your sins are forgiven.”  And we just sang a hymn--what was that hymn we sang this morning?  It dawned on me when we were singing this, I read the subtitle where the Scripture it says under “Cleanse me” “If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” And here Jesus said “Your sins are forgiven” to this paralytic man.  In the time of Christ, and all of the time before Jesus Christ, and all of the time after Jesus Christ, it is agreed that only God can forgive sin.  Only God can do that.  One would have to wonder then if Jesus was almost baiting those teachers of the law who were within earshot, because the Scripture does tell us they were nearby and were listening to what Jesus was saying.  We wonder if Jesus was saying something by his statement to address this very subject.  And we know that the Jews of his day were struck by that fact that Jesus spoke with authority--with authority.  Jesus didn't have to wonder what he was going to say or say it and hope that they wouldn't be offended by it.  In fact, his authority allowed him to say things that people would be offended by--religious people.  It’s not like a lot of the lessons that other teachers of Jesus’ day were saying.  This particular text is but a selection, one selection of an account of Jesus that demonstrates the controversy with which Jesus spoke and his words created in an already established area of religion.  And so what we find is that Jesus speaking delivered controversy.  He claimed, Jesus did, to have the authority to forgive sins.  That claim in and of itself was one to ruffle the feathers of those that were listening.  He also claimed to be Lord of the Sabbath.  He also claimed that he was the one who could heal, and he also proclaimed that it was only by his authority over disease could this example of healing take place.  And he even healed on the Sabbath day.  I think by seeing how Jesus handles himself, and the devotion that he had to his Father, we can understand the piety that was associated with him and as a result us.  In order for us to receive the new wine that Jesus was bringing we had to become new containers.  We had to become new wineskins.  And so he proclaimed freedom to those whom he wanted to associate with.  We also see by this short account here in Mark 2 that this particular text focuses on the authority that Jesus had over sin and over disease.  Jesus had authority over those two elements.  To the local people who were witnessing this, this was a new thing.  It was more than a new thing, it was a shocking thing.  Before their very eyes a paralytic man, his sins were forgiven, and he was healed by someone of authority--someone willing to take on the educated religious leaders that were standing there nearby.  What made it even more complicated was that Jesus was just a regular man to them.  Walking in the flesh, yet claiming to have the authority of God--so much so that he said he was able to forgive sin.  He was able to forgive sin.  (We’re going to talk about that in just a moment.)  And he was able to heal diseases.  This isn’t what the vision that the Jews had of the Messiah was all about.  You see they envisioned the Messiah coming to overturn a political system.  They pictured the Messiah as bringing in, ushering in an era of peace.  They didn't envision the Messiah coming to forgive sins, or to heal the sick, or to reach out to the lonely.  Rather, they looked at the restoration of Israel and their national greatness.  To complicate matters, Jesus happened to be the son of unwed parents, the son of a carpenter walking and claiming authority given to him by his Father to forgive sins.  This to many, was preposterous, especially to the society, to the people and culture that saw Jesus.  They thought he was blaspheming because he was proclaiming to possess authority.  Jesus never stood behind anything else other than his Father.  And he boasted his Father’s authority in his ministry.  Yet their judgment about Jesus Christ was incorrect. Because he was God in the flesh.  He is God in the flesh [cf. John 1:1-11].

 

Bringing Our Friends To Christ

 

The title that I have for this sermon today is “Friends & Faith” and I want to go through this account again with that little bit of a background and look at what we have going on in this particular account, because I think it’s quite fascinating.  Mark chapter 2, “A few days later” verse 1, “Jesus again enters Capernaum.”  Now we read last week where the man with leprosy had fallen on his knees before Jesus and was healed and Jesus asked him not to go and tell anyone.  And so the man, listening to Jesus, goes and tells everyone.  And from that point forward wherever Jesus went, the cities he entered into, large throngs of people surrounded Jesus because they wanted to be healed.  And so a few days later when Jesus enters Capernaum the people heard that he had come to them, or come home.  So many people gathered that there was no room left.  Now Capernaum was a small town.  And yet it appears by these simple words that were given here, that word of Jesus’ return to Capernaum spread rapidly through the city, so rapidly, that when Jesus finally entered Capernaum there were so many people waiting there for him that there was no room left, it said, not even outside the door.  And Jesus began to preach to them.  That’s what he did.  He preached to them.  Some men came.  And this is where we’re going to have to start identifying some characteristics.  Some men came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four of them.  Now this paralytic in this account is well known to us.  We never learned this paralytic's name.  We never will. In fact, in this whole little section here, the paralytic man never says one word to Jesus Christ.  We don’t know what he’s thinking.  We don’t know why he became paralytic.  Was it as a result of an accident?  Was it a result of birth?  We don’t know, really, anything about the man other than the fact that he’s paralyzed.  We don’t know how he feels about these men bringing him there.  Did they bring him against his will?  We don’t know that.  We would like to think that this man came to Jesus for healing, because he heard of the great powers that Jesus held.  But what we find is that some men came bringing to Christ this paralytic, four of them.  Four because we could think there is one on each side [corner] of the stretcher as they carried this man to Jesus.  These four men bring this paralytic to Jesus.  Next verse, “Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd they made an opening in the roof above Jesus.”  And so here we find that Jesus was surrounded by people.  A lot of times, you and I, when we try to go to Jesus we think that there’s just too many people for Jesus to see us right now, or for me to pray to him.  But his friends here saw that there were way too many people in front of them for Jesus to even notice this paralytic man.  So his friends pick him up and they carry him outside of the building to, it appears to be the side of the house, and up a back staircase.  Now these are his friends.  And then what they do, it says they begin to dig a hole in the roof.  Now if you know anything about adobe construction, which is this type of housing materials, it’s brick and mud and straw and wood.  And they’re digging at it and they don’t have their dust-busters with them, so they’re not siphoning up the lose gravel as it's being unearthed here.  Jesus inside the house and those who were around Jesus, immediately wherever this hole appeared, no doubt, look up and they see the ceiling beginning to crumble above them.  Debris is now falling on a lot of folks.  I don’t know which one of them stuck their head through the opening first, but someone sticks their head through and says “It’s only us. We’ll be right there.”  They make the hole wide enough so they can lower this paralytic man through the hole.  Jesus, I’m sure, is watching this with an incredible amount of empathy towards their scenario.  Others are probably wondering “What in the world are they doing?  The roof is going to cave in.  They’re going to fall.  What are these guys doing?”  O.K. They made an opening in the roof above Jesus and after digging through it, lowered the mat the paralyzed man way lying on.  Now at this point the man is before Jesus Christ.  He still hasn’t said anything.  He’s before the healer.  Jesus, it says here, saw their  faith.  He doesn’t tell us he saw the faith of the paralytic man.  He saw the faith of those men who brought this paralytic to Jesus and left him in front of Jesus.  

 

Only God Has The Authority To Forgive Sins, So What Jesus Is Saying Is He Is Also God

 

Jesus looks at the man, seeing their faith, he looks at the man and says, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”  Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves “Why does this fellow talk like that?  He’s blaspheming.  Who can forgive sins but God alone?”  Their immediate reaction to what’s taken place is problematic.  This man has just said ‘Sins are forgiven’ to this man on the mat.  Jesus knew in his spirit that this is what is what they are thinking in their hearts.  And he says to them, “Why are you thinking these things?” and then he kind of throws a riddle to them.  “Which is easier to say to this paralytic man? ‘Your sins are forgiven’ or to say ‘Get up, take your mat and walk?’”  Which was easier to say?  There have been times when someone has hurt me deeply, and there are times when I have hurt people deeply.  And people have come to me or I’ve gone to someone and I’ve said to them “I'm sorry. I apologize.”  And they’ve said to me “I forgive you.”  And I said, “Thank you.”  And we go on.  You see, it’s possible, it is quite possible for humans to forgive one another’s sins, as they affect us, isn’t it?  There are times when someone has sinned against another person.  Case in point, a man and woman are married, and one of the two makes a grave mistake and sins.  The partner is crushed, devastated.  But when that individual comes and is truly repentant, and recognizes the error of their sin and sees how it has hurt the other individual, and apologizes probably a thousand times and that other person is able to say to them and mean it, “I forgive you,” that is an overwhelming human ability to forgive sin.  Now, before you say “Whoa, what is he saying?”, only God can forgive the ramification of sin.  Only God can remove the sin as though it never existed.  Only God in his divine authority has the right to forgive sin. We as human beings have the ability to forgive one another.  We as human beings have the ability to forgive one another's sins as they affect us.  We nowhere can provide authority or salvation to an individual.  You know that’s through Jesus Christ.  Jesus says your sins are forgiven.  Which is easier to say? “Your sins are forgiven” or to say “Get up, take your mat and walk?” “But that you may know that the Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins...” This is the first time Jesus uses the phrase “Son of man,” and he refers to himself as that.  And he says “to show you that I have authority to forgive sins and to heal on this earth, he says to paralytic ‘I tell you, get up and take your mat and go home.’”  He got up and he took his mat and he walked out of the place.  Now, let’s draw some analogies here.  The paralytic man was frozen by his sins into a state of helplessness, whatever those sins may have been.  His friends realize his helplessness and they carried him to Jesus Christ.  We don’t know if this man wanted to go to Jesus, but his friends took him before Christ.  And that’s where we intervene and we bring our friends before Christ.  Those who are hurting, those who need forgiveness of sins, those who need Jesus Christ in their life.  Jesus freed this man by declaring that he was forgiven.  And as a result Jesus was stating that he has the power to relay God’s forgiveness on earth.  And therefore we in the church have been entrusted with the power and authority through Jesus Christ to tell others that they don’t have to be paralyzed by sin anymore.  That it is through Christ’s forgiveness and grace that their sins can be removed.  And so we bring our friends to Christ.  The paralytic man could not reach Jesus because the door was jammed with people.  But his friends were not willing to let this deter them.  They didn’t see it as an obstacle, they just saw it, “It’s going to take a little more effort to help our friend out.”  So in their zeal they were willing to do something that took a lot of energy and strength, and it took a lot of courage to do--that is to break through the roof of a home to help this man out [and this home was fiery Peter’s house!].  What are some obstacles that you and I face when we try to help one another out?  When we try to help those people out that can’t help themselves there are a lot of obstacles that we will face.  There may be relatives, family or friends who will stand in the doorway and not allow you to bring that friend to Jesus Christ.  That’s when we have to take the back staircase.  That’s when we have to punch a hole through the roof.  That’s when we have to not give up, as this paralytic’s friends didn’t.  You know, people shouldn’t have to commit acts of desperation to have access to Jesus Christ.  They shouldn’t have to do this.  Christians, you and I, are commissioned to make it easy for others to have access to Jesus Christ, by how we live, and how we include others in what we do for them.  We need a faith that won’t quit.  The faith of these friends of the paralyzed man tell us a compelling story.  We don’t know any of their names.  Yet the thing that we remember about them is the moment that they carried their friendship through, because of Jesus Christ.  Many times people are remembered for all the wrong reasons.  There was one mistake that we could make that people will remember us by forever, no matter how much we apologize or overcome that mistake.  That’s unfortunate.  That really is unfortunate.  But these particular men, their faithfulness, has been preserved for 2000 years because of this act of kindness that they extended to someone who needed it.  They wouldn’t take “No” for an answer, or let any obstacles stand in their way--because they had passion and determination.  They also must have really believed without any hesitation at all that Jesus Christ could heal the man.  Now I know there will be times when we stumble across people that are our friends who are hurting, or maybe strangers that will come up to us and begin a conversation, and it’s hard to keep that conversation going.  It’s hard, sometimes, even if the conversation is “Christian” oriented, to sometimes even bring up the name of Jesus Christ.  I know.  And I know that we all feel this and go through these things.  But you know what?  That’s when we need to have the faith of a friend, and bring up Jesus’ name because we believe in his name.  We believe in his authority.  And to show us how much this means to us, Jesus, not knowing anything necessarily about this paralytic man's faith (or I shouldn’t say that--I should say) we don’t read about the paralytic man's faith, Jesus sees their faith.  I can’t tell you how many times in my life, when I thought to myself concerning my own mother, that things were going to work out for me, because I knew my mother was praying about it.  I trusted in her faith.  I knew she had faith.  And I knew she was praying for me.  And I knew, I had no hesitation, to feeling that whatever the situation was, was going to work out because my mother was praying about it.  I can’t describe that, but I can tell you that I’ve felt it a million times.  So Jesus responded to the faith of those men.  And thus we realize that faith can move mountains.  I have no hesitation in realizing that our prayer for a piano player is going to be answered.  I know it is, partly because I’ve asked my Mom to pray for it.  I know she is, I know God’s going to answer that prayer.

 

We Have To Exercise Our Faith

 

The stretcher bearers had a faith that wouldn't quit.  And there wasn’t an obstacle that they allowed to get in their way to derail them.  And then we realize that we can bring about examples of moving mountains by having faith.  And that’s what it’s all about.  And Jesus gives us faith, but we have to exercise it.  Again I tell you about my stories in gym, and working out for this past month has been eye-opening in so many ways.  It’s made me realize that the more I put into practice, and it’s only the three times a week that I go there for an hour or an hour and a half, those three times a week are yielding results physically for me, and mentally, and emotionally, and even spiritually, because I’m feeling better.  And while I’m working out I think, you know, this is exactly how the Christian life is.  We have to exercise it, we have to put it into practice, we have to strain sometimes to take it to the next level.  We have to endure the pain sometimes because we know it’s going to be beneficial.  And the whole time we’re exercising we have to drink lots of water to stay refreshed.  We need a lot of the Holy Spirit to stay refreshed, otherwise our exercise is going to fatigue us more than it should.  Jesus Christ is our redeemer.  Only he can forgive our sins.  Only he can do that, because he’s purchased them by his own blood, satisfying the penalty of death with his life on the cross once and for all.  And as a result he guarantees us eternal life, salvation.  Isaiah said, “I am doing a new thing.”  Consequently it’s important for us to forget the former things.  Our salvation will be, (in Isaiah 43) our salvation will be unlike what the Lord did for Israel.  The Lord saved them from Egypt and became their king.  Now the Lord says that it is He who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake and remembers your sins no more.  ‘This is the new thing that I the Lord will do.’  Paul teaches that believers are given the Lord’s of ownership, to show that he is our Master and that God, who is our gift of comfort and strength, guarantees that we belong to him.  And it’s only as a result through these gifts that our salvation is achieved.

 

Taking Another Look

 

And so we take another look at this passage because it’s so unique that the faith of this paralytic man is just never discussed, it’s never expressed, and he is healed with an incredible healing.  You know, Jesus usually says when he heals, “Your faith has healed you.”  And in this account he doesn’t say that.  He says “Take up your mat and go home.”  We don’t even know if this man ever followed Jesus again.  We don’t know if this man ever became a Christian.  But what we do know is that the faith of his friends was something that Jesus saw and responded to.  “A few days later when Jesus entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home.  So many gathered that there was no room left, not even outside the door.  And he preached the word to them...”  Jesus, surrounded by throngs of people, always preached the truth, the gospel message of salvation, the message of healing, the message of forgiveness of sins.  “And while he was preaching, since they could not get to him because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus and after digging through it, lowered the mat the paralyzed man was lying on.  When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven.’”  Now you and I would recognize this as a miracle.  The teachers of the law sitting there thought to themselves, ‘This doesn't mix with our religion.  Why does he talk like this?  He’s blaspheming God.’  “Jesus, immediately discerning what they are thinking”--because he knew what their religion was.  He knew that their religion was not centered on faith.  He knew that their religion was centered on something different.  He knew that their religion had become a matter of laws, and that their religion had become a matter of routine, and that their religion had become a matter of legality.  “Jesus, knowing what they were thinking in their hearts, says to them, ‘Why are you thinking these things?  What is easier to say to this paralytic man you’ve just seen lowered from the roof of this building before me, ‘You sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’?  But that you may know that the Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins” he looks again to the man and he answers the question by saying, “Pick up your mat, and walk out of here” indicating that it was much easier to say to the man “You are healed”--much easier to say that, than to recognize the forgiveness of sins--easier to say that.  And as a result, this man gets up and he leaves.  But the undenying emotion that we leave this particular passage with is that Jesus has the authority to forgive sins, your sins and my sins.  That’s the hardest thing it seems to do.  And as a result, he in order to be able to do that, will sacrifice his life so that your sins and my sins are forgiven.  And the healing is easy from that point on.

 

In Closing


Well, we’re going to talk more about this next time.  So please join me in prayer: “Eternal God we thank you for allowing us to share this particular passage of Scripture with one another--your teaching us of your authority over not only our lives, but your authority to forgive sins, and your authority Father over healing.  And we petition you many days for healing.  We know that your authority to do so is there.  Father, we have learned today that our faith can be of benefit to others, just as it was for this paralytic man who by his friends faith was healed.  Help us to demonstrate that faithfulness Father, by coming to you and building our faith stronger every day, our faith in you...the faith that can move mountains.  We ask that you continue to demonstrate that faith in this congregation.  We ask for your presence always in our lives.  We ask for your protection as we travel home this afternoon, and for all those Father, especially the elderly, whom we know will have difficulty with this weather, we ask that you be with them, and protect them.  And Father, we thank you for all you do for us, through the name of your Son Jesus the Christ.  Amen.”  [This is a transcription of a sermon given by Pastor Al Ebeling of the Waltham Congregation of the Worldwide Church of God, meeting in the First Congregational Church of Waltham, Massachusetts.  This denomination has ceased to exist, but when it broke up, many more Sabbath-keeping Churches of God sprang from its roots, see
https://unityinchrist.com/wwcofg/wwcofgod.html]

 

MARK 2:1-28

 

“And again he entered into Capernaum after some days; and it was noised that he was in the house. 2 And straightway many were gathered together, insomuch that there was no room to receive them, no, not so much as about the door:  and he preached the word unto them. 3 And they come unto him, bringing one sick of the palsy, which was borne of four. 4 And when they could not come nigh unto him for the press, they uncovered the roof where he was:  and when they had broken it up, they let down the bed wherein the sick of the palsy lay. 5 When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee. 6 But there were certain of the scribes sitting there, and reasoning in their hearts, 7 Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies?  who can forgive sins but God only? 8 And immediately when Jesus perceived in his spirit that they so reasoned within themselves, he said unto them, Why reason ye these things in your hearts? 9 Whether is it easier to say to the sick of the palsy, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and take up thy bed and walk? 10 But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (he saith to the sick of the palsy,) 11 I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house. 12 And immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went forth before them all; insomuch that they were all amazed, and glorified God, saying, We never saw it on this fashion. 13 And he went forth again by the sea side; and all the multitude resorted unto him, and he taught them. 14 And as he passed by, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the receipt of custom, and said unto him, Follow me. 15 And it came to pass, that, as Jesus sat at meat in his house, many publicans and sinners sat also together with Jesus and his disciples:  for there were many and they followed him. 16 And when the scribes and Pharisees saw him eat with publicans and sinners, they said unto his disciples, How is it that he eateth and drinketh with publicans and sinners? 17 When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick:  I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. 18 And the disciples of John and of the Pharisees used to fast:  and they come and say unto him, Why do the disciples of John and of the Pharisees fast, but thy disciples fast not? 19 And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bridechamber fast, while the bridegroom is with them? as long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. 20 But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then shall they fast in those days. 21 No man also seweth a piece of new cloth on an old garment:   else the new piece that filled it up taketh away from the old, and the rent is made worse. 22 And no man putteth new wine into old bottles:  else the new wine doth burst the bottles, and the wine is spilled, and the bottles will be marred:  but new wine must be put into new bottles. 23 And it came to pass, that he went through the corn fields on the sabbath day; and his disciples began, as they went, to pluck the ears of corn. 24 And the Pharisees said unto him, Behold, why do they on the sabbath day that which is not lawful? 25 And he said unto them, Have ye never read what David did, when he had need, and was an hungered, he, and they that were with him? 26 How he went into the house of God in the days of Abiathar the high priest, and did eat the shewbread, which is not lawful to eat but for the priests, and gave also to them which were with him? 27 And he said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath: 28 Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath.”

Four Principles of Ministry

  1. Healthy sheep produce sheep. This is a chief part of what Jesus did for three and a half years. Thus we see that a dynamic ministry is focused on the Word of God, preaching the Word of God.
  2. A dynamic church and/or ministry is composed of those full of faith, those who are always stepping out in faith, even radically. God is great and God can do the impossible is their motto. A ministry can start as a dream, a desire in your heart. Then you’ve got to be willing to step out in faith. Then the dream turns into a vision. You’ve got to be willing to step out in faith. Some times when you step out in faith, God really is leading you. Not every time, but some times. Don’t be afraid to take chances for the Lord.
  3. A dynamic ministry and church is friendly.
  4. A dynamic ministry and church is not a rigid one but a dynamic one. Don’t become institutionalized. It’s a danger to avoid. We have to be flexible, focused on the Spirit and where he’s leading us. [The Brooklyn Tabernacle is a very good example of a dynamic ministry and Christian church. Be sure to read about this church in Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire, available on http://www.amazon.com ]

Mark 2:1-12, “A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home.  So many gathered that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them.  Some men came, bringing to him a paralytic, carried by four of them.  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 paralyzed man was lying on.  When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven.’”  Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, ‘Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?’  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?  Which is easier to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk?’  But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins....’ He said to the paralytic, ‘I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.’  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!’”  A ministry needs to be focused on the Word of God--not healing, not drama, not music--but it must be a feeding ministry, feeding God’s sheep with the Word of God.  Healthy sheep beget more sheep.  2nd  Timothy 3:14-18, “Keep reminding them of these things.  Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen.  Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.  Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly.  Their teaching will spread like gangrene.  Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, who have wandered away from the truth.  They say that the resurrection has already taken place, and they destroy the faith of some.”  Beware of false teachers and prophets who are not into the Word of God, but into fables.  Today’s New Age movement is our present-day version of these fables.  2nd Timothy 3:1-9, “But mark this:  There will be terrible times in the last days.  People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God--having a form of godliness but denying its power.  They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over weak-willed women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth.  Just as Jambres opposed Moses, so also these men oppose the truth--men of depraved minds, who, as far as the faith is concerned, are rejected.  But they will not get very far because, as in the case of those men, their folly will be clear to everyone.”  In the midst of this house (Peter’s house) full of people listening to Jesus giving this Bible study are some Pharisees and Scribes, religious leaders of the day.  As the story unfolds, remember they’re sitting there. If you really want something spiritual, you go for it in faith, and you’ve got it.  These four guys bringing a paralytic couldn’t get in because of the crowd.  So they went up on Peter’s roof and start disassembling it, making a hole so they could lower this man on a stretcher down into the room below.  They had just made a hole in Peter’s roof--fiery Peter’s roof, to lower this man into Jesus’ presence!  They took the risk of being embarrassed, chased away or being beat up for vandalizing Peter’s house.  Verse 5 says, “When Jesus saw their faith...” You have to have faith, step out in faith, be willing to risk failure and embarrassment.  Understanding the difficulty of doing a work is measured by the one doing the work.  If God is doing the work in you, great things will result--if you step out and continue to step out in faith.  Faith is real when it takes risks, takes steps.  A ministry starts out as a desire in the heart that then turns into a vision.  The vision then turns into a ministry.  Now something happens as a result of this healing.  Some churches get distracted on healings or financial prosperity--on the physical--and not on the spiritual. [the Health & Wealth, Prosperity Gospel churches]  1st John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”  Jesus knew the heart of these Pharisees and Scribes.  Their attitude must have really bothered Jesus.  Psalm 139 says God can read thoughts.  Jesus’ prime message was that he came to forgive sin.  He has the authority to and came so that all of us could have our sins forgiven.  It wasn’t the healing alone that was important here, but the point Jesus was making, verses 6-12. “Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, ‘Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?’  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?  Which is easier: to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk?’ But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sin....’ He said to the paralytic, ‘I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.’  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!’”

Mark 2:13-27

Four key points. A Christian Church and/or Christian is focused on:

  1. The Word of God,
  2. Being full of faith,
  3. Being friendly,
  4. Being flexible in the Lord’s hands.

Verses 13-17, “Once again Jesus went out beside the lake.  A large crowd came to him, and he began to teach them.  As he walked along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax collector’s booth.  ‘Follow me,’ Jesus told him, and Levi got up and followed him.  While Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him.  When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the ‘sinners’ and tax collectors, they asked his disciples:  ‘Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?’ On hearing this, Jesus said to them, ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.  I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.’”  Jesus leaves the packed house of Peter’s and walked along the lake, and these people, this large crowd of people, follows him.  As he’s walking, he passes this tax collector’s booth and says to its occupant, “Follow me.”  Tax collectors were known for making their wallets fat.  They were a despised element in Hebrew society.  The Jewish tax collectors were really despised by the Jews.  They were excommunicated from the Temple, and couldn’t serve in any official capacity in Jewish society.  Matthew (Levi) had a feast to honor Jesus.  He’s a wealthy guy.  He gave up his job and wealth to follow Jesus.  Jesus probably changed Levi’s name to Matthew, which means “a gift of the Lord to the people.”  So Jesus is sitting down with these outcasts of Jewish society, “breaking bread” with them.  Now to the Jews, the breaking of bread, eating with someone, was a very symbolic thing.  When you “broke bread” with another person, because you and that other person were eating of the same “bread,” that food became a part of the two of you, part of your bodies.  You were symbolically linked in that manner.  That is why the Jews were so against eating with those they looked down upon or despised.  It was symbolic of a sort of spiritually linking with another person.  The Jew would never want to be linked in a spiritual union with a Roman or pagan.  The tax collectors and sinners, to them, the dregs of society, fell into this despised lot the Jews wouldn’t eat with or spiritually associate with.  The Jews got downright unfriendly about this.  The Christian Church, on the other hand, both corporately and individually, should be friendly.  Jesus embraced all kinds, but especially the down and out--the outcasts of society.  He was and is not accepting of sin, but he accepts sinners so he can embrace them and work a work in their lives.  The church often gets isolated from those Jesus wants to reach out to and save.  That is the attitude of the Pharisees.  Calvary Chapel is a sinner’s hospital.  A good book to get and read is Larry Taylor’s “Doing Ministry Right.” [See if it's available online at: http://www.calvarychapel.org/products_nav.html] Matthew 9:12-13, “On hearing this, Jesus said, ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means:  ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ [Hosea 6:6]  For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.’”  Jesus embraces you right where you’re at. 

 

We Must Be Flexible In God’s Hands

 

Point four says that Christians and Christian churches must be flexible in the hands of God.  Jesus says we’re to go out to those in need and reach them with the gospel.  Don’t expect them to come to you.  A prime example of a church doing this is pastor Jim Cymbala’s Brooklyn Tabernacle, where someone would feel moved by God to go into a real bad section of New York City, or Brooklyn, and minister directly with the people, providing food and blankets, and then busing them to services on Sunday for a hot meal and church service.  The living active gospel of Jesus Christ was effectively brought to these people, right to their doorstep, which in many cases was an alleyway or a cardboard box they were living in.  To read of this dynamic ministry and Christian church congregation be sure to order pastor Cymbala's book Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire. [Available online from: http://www.amazon.com].

 

Jesus Is About To Do A New Work, Replace The Old Covenant Version Of Judaism With A New Church Structure

 


Verses 18-22, “Now John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting.  Some came and asked Jesus, ‘How is it that John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees are fasting, but yours are not?’  Jesus answered, ‘How can the guests of the bridegroom fast while he is with them?  They cannot, so long as they have him with them.  But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them, and on that day they will fast.  No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment.  If he does, the new piece will pull away from the old, making the tear worse.  And no one pours new wine into old wineskins.  If he does, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined.  No, he pours new wine into new wineskins.’”  This is the symbolic Monday or Thursday fasting that had been set up and observed regularly by the Pharisees, to make a religious show.  The Jewish custom was, that after a wedding, the guests stayed around for a week of celebrating with the bride and bridegroom, and that everyone attending was exempt from this religious fasting requirement or custom the Pharisees had set up.  Jesus was making reference to this when he spoke of the bridegroom’s guest’s not fasting, and that he was the bridegroom. He was also making direct reference to the coming putting away of the old covenant for the new.  God was about to do a new work, and Jesus was saying that it wouldn’t mesh with their old religious system, the old covenant.  The wine represents the gospel, the old wineskin represents the old religious system, and the old covenant itself.  The Jews weren’t flexible.  Jesus’ point was that the new system, composed of Christians and Christian churches must be flexible in the hands of God!  As I brought out before, Jesus says we should be going out to those in need and reaching them with the gospel.  Don’t expect them to come to you.  [see
https://unityinchrist.com/wwcofg/NewWineSkinVsOld.htm]

 

What About The Sabbath, The 4th Commandment?

Mark 2:23-27; 3:1-5

“One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields, and as his disciples walked along, they began to pick some heads of grain.  The Pharisees said to him, ‘Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?’  He answered, ‘Have you never read of what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need? In the days of Abiathar the high priest, he entered the house of God and ate the consecrated bread, which is lawful only for priests to eat.  And he also gave some to his companions.’ Then he said to them, ‘The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.’” (Mark 2:23-27.)

“Another time he went into the synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there.  Some of them were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath.  Jesus said to the man with the shriveled hand, ‘Stand up in front of everyone.’  Then he asked them, ‘Which is lawful on the Sabbath, to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?’ But they remained silent.  He looked around at them in anger and, and deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand.’  He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored.  Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus” (Mark 3:1-5).  [The Sabbath-keeping Churches of God use this as one of their proof texts for believing the Sabbath command has not been abrogated or transferred to Sunday.  To learn why, log onto:
http://www.unityinchrist.com/wwcofg/Has%20the%20Sabbath%20Been%20Abrogated.htm]  In Exodus 20:8-11 God instituted the Sabbath into the old covenant he was establishing with the Israelites through Moses.  As earlier chapters in Exodus show, the Sabbath was in existence before the old covenant and was being re-introduced to the Israelites well before they came to Mount Sinai (Exodus 16).  This is a sticking point between old covenant Christians and new covenant Christians, the former saying that if the Sabbath were before the establishment of the old covenant, it couldn't be abolished when the old covenant ceased to be.  True, but wait and see what happened with the Sabbath (and consequently the Holy Day requirements, they’re not gone, as some of you have been erroneously been taught).  They weren’t done away with as so many sincere but misinformed Christians supposed.  Something far more interesting happened to the Sabbath/Holy Day commands.  But first let’s understand the intent of the Sabbath command.  To do this, let's read it. Exodus 20:8-11, “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.  Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God.  On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates.  For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day.  Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day.”  God instituted the Sabbath.  The heart of the Sabbath was to rest and seek God.  The doctors of the law, the Pharisees went banana’s detailing just what work was.  24 chapters were written in the Jewish Talmud defining what was work.  They went to such an extreme in interpreting the Sabbath command that they made the Sabbath itself a “works” trip.  The Holy Days listed in Leviticus 23 and the Sabbath were shadows for the works of the Holy Spirit in us.  The physical Sabbath pictured the spiritual rest we now have in Christ--through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit--and it pictures the coming future rest we'll all have in God’s kingdom when Jesus returns. 

 

The Physical Sabbath Command Was A Shadow Picturing The Salvation-Rest We Have In Christ Put Inside Of Us By The Indwelling Holy Spirit

 

Let’s look at what Paul says about this Sabbath rest we have in Christ.  Hebrews 4:1-13, “Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it.  For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did, but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith.  Now we who have believed enter that rest, just as God has said, ‘So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.’  And yet his work has been finished since the creation of the world.  For somewhere he has spoken about the seventh day in these words:  ‘And on the seventh day God rested from all his work.’  And again in the passage above he says, ‘They shall never enter my rest.’  It still remains that some will enter that rest, and those who formerly had the gospel preached to them did not go in, because of their disobedience.  Therefore God again set a certain day, calling it Today, when a long time later he spoke through David, as was said before:  ‘Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.’  For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day.  There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his.  Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience.  For the word of God is living and active.  Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.  Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight.  Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”  [the term “Sabbath-rest” is in the literal Greek, as shown in the marginal rendering of verse 9 in the King James Version as “keeping of a sabbath”]  The kingdom of God is here within us right now.  Jesus in us through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit quiets our souls.  The kingdom in its fullness will arrive when Jesus returns.  Zephaniah 3:16-17, “On that day they will say to Jerusalem, ‘Do not fear, O Zion; do not let your hands hang limp.  The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save.  He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.”  What quiets us but the love of God in us by His Spirit.  Isn’t this true?  The Pharisees were misrepresenting God and what he required of them through the commandments.  Isaiah 11:10, “In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and his place of rest will be glorious.” 

Some Christians chose to look at it this way.  The Sabbath command under the new covenant has been TRANSFORMED.  By the rest we have in Jesus Christ dwelling in us through the Holy Spirit we are in the Sabbath rest Paul spoke of in Hebrews chapter four 365 days of the year.  The literal physical observance of the Sabbath was only a picture, a shadow, of the spiritual "Sabbath rest" we have in Christ. [As to whether the literal 4th Commandment has been abrogated, since the spiritual keeping of it is achieved by having received God’s indwelling Holy Spirit, and is a 24/7 observance, is up for debate, the Sabbath-keeping Churches of God believing the physical 4th commandment has not been abrogated, in spite of the spiritual reality of it having been achieved by receiving Salvation in Jesus via the indwelling Holy Spirit.  The Sunday-observers believe the actual physical observance of the 4th commandment has been abrogated (even though they don’t believe the other 9 commandments have been abrogated).  This debate rages, but God has bestowed his Holy Spirit into both groups, so take your pick.  Observance of all the Ten Commandments will be restored in the coming Millennial Kingdom of God, as many Old Testament prophecies show.]

The Spiritual Equivalent Of Breaking God’s Sabbath Command

The rejection of the Holy Spirit amounts to breaking the new covenant Sabbath command, because we cease to rest in Christ without God’s Holy Spirit in us.  In Old Testament Israel Sabbath breaking was punishable by physical death.  Paul warns us that rejection of the Holy Spirit results in spiritual death.  You can see here that the old covenant Sabbath command is a shadow of the new, a type, a picture of the reality we have dwelling within us.  The shadow was physical and temporary, the spiritual is eternal and will not fade away.  Colossians 2:16-17,  “Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day.  These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however is found in Christ.”  How much clearer can you get?  Because of unbelief the Israelites that were with Moses never got into their rest in the Promised Land of Israel.  But even the Israelites (everyone 20 year old and under with Joshua and Caleb) that did make it into the Promised Land did not experience a perfect rest.  The Sabbath rest talked about in Hebrews 4 that we experience in Jesus Christ is something they never experienced.  As we just read in Colossians 2:16-17, the literal Sabbath (and also the Holy Day commands) were given as shadows of the great things we would experience in Jesus Christ through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and were also shadows of prophetic events to come.  In Deuteronomy we find a description of not dwelling in God's Sabbath rest talked of by Paul in Hebrews 4 [see https://unityinchrist.com/hebrews/Hebrews4-1-16.htm].  In Deuteronomy 28:65 God is describing the frame of mind the Israelites would have as he scattered them all over the world for disobeying him.  It perfectly expresses the frame of mind of people without Jesus Christ dwelling in them.  They are without rest and peace of mind.  Deuteronomy 28:65, “Among those nations you will find no repose, no resting place for the sole of your foot.  There the Lord will give you an anxious mind, eyes weary with longing, and a despairing heart.  You will live in constant suspense, filled with dread both night and day, never sure of your life.  In the morning you will say, ‘If only it were evening!’ and in the evening, ‘If only it were morning!’--because of the terror that will fill your hearts and the sights that your eyes will see.”  With the world around us the way it is, without Jesus in us, haven’t many of us experienced this attitude of mind?  Hasn’t this be been our mindset?  But this doesn’t have to be, with Jesus in us there is that peace that passeth all understanding, even in the midst of heavy trial.  In Deuteronomy 23 we also see that the Law of God allowed you to pluck the standing grain by hand to satisfy your immediate hunger.  The disciples weren’t wrong in what they did, but the Pharisaic law was running against a higher law of mercy God had given.  There was no mercy in their extra Sabbath restrictions.  Let’s look at the next few verses.  Mark 3:1-6, “Another time he went into the synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there.  Some of them were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath.  Jesus said to the man with the shriveled hand, ‘Stand up in front of everyone.’  Then Jesus asked them, ‘Which is lawful on the Sabbath, to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?’  But they remained silent.  He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand.’  He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored.  Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus.”  [The Sabbath-keeping Churches of God use this as one of their proof texts for believing the Sabbath command has not been abrogated or transferred to Sunday.  To learn why, log onto:
http://www.unityinchrist.com/wwcofg/Has%20the%20Sabbath%20Been%20Abrogated.htm ]  The heart of Jesus is to heal and meet our needs.  This rest that comes from Jesus brings spiritual rest and healing.  Jesus Christ was and is the spiritual fulfillment of the Sabbath in us--for we rest in Christ.  He says, ‘Cast all your cares on me and I will give you rest.’  In verse 5 we see that Jesus was first angry and then grieved by the hardness of their hearts.  Man’s traditions are blind to the wounds of others.  The needs of man go beyond the importance of the ordinances man tacks onto the law.  The ordinances that the Pharisees laid on people added burdens on them, whereas the ordinances of God tended to unburden people.  Jeremiah 17:5-8 shows we enter Christ’s rest through faith.  Let’s read it and see what it says.  “This is what the Lord says:  ‘Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength and whose heart turns away from the Lord.  He will be like a bush in the wastelands; he will not see prosperity when it comes.  He will dwell in the parched places of the desert, in a salt land where no one lives.  But blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him.  He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream.  It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green.  It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”  [God’s Holy Days which were commanded in Leviticus 23 in the Torah were shadows of wonderful things to come, both prophetic and spiritual.  To see what the Holy Day shadows represented CLICK HERE.] 

 

related links:

See also https://unityinchrist.com/hebrews/Hebrews4-1-16.htm

The pastor giving these connective expository sermons going through the Gospel of Mark failed to give sermons on Mark 3:7-19 and 3:20-35.  Here is a link to two expository sermons covering those verses given by Pastor Joe Focht, Calvary Chapel of Philadelphia.

See https://resources.ccphilly.org/detail.asp?Teaching=SAM1000 and https://resources.ccphilly.org/detail.asp?TopicID=&Teaching=SAM1001


 

content Editor Peter Benson -- no copyright, except where noted.  Please feel free to use this material for instruction and edification
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