This week, we saw Jesus prove his authority to forgive sins. Check out the story once more:
And getting into a boat he crossed over and came to his own city. And behold, some people brought to him a paralytic, lying on a bed. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.” And behold, some of the scribes said to themselves, “This man is blaspheming.” But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts? For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he then said to the paralytic—“Rise, pick up your bed and go home.” And he rose and went home. When the crowds saw it, they were afraid, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to men. (Matthew 9:1-8)
Certainly, the story primarily highlights the divine authority Jesus possesses to forgive sins. But together with the additional details shared in Mark 2:1-12 and Luke 5:17-26, we learned three additional truths from within the story:
1. Interruptions to us are not interruptions to Jesus:
Mark 2:4 and Luke 5:19 both tell us that the paralytic was lowered through the roof of the house Jesus was located in. But we also made note of what Jesus was doing as the paralytic was lowered through the roof: he was teaching (Mark 2:2; Luke 5:17). This would have been a major interruption to the preaching and teaching of Jesus at that moment, yet Jesus responded with compassion and grace. It helps us understand we, too, need to be okay with interruptions. More importantly, we also need to learn to use interruptions as opportunities to reflect and teach the gospel of Jesus Christ to whomever is interrupting us.
2. Genuine faith persists toward Jesus:
In all three accounts, Jesus notices the faith of the men who interrupt his teaching (Matthew 9:2; Mark 2:5; Luke 5:20). In our time together on Sunday, we also noticed how their faith persisted to Jesus, despite the crowd blocking access to him. So persistent was their faith, that they climbed the house’s exterior stairwell in order to create an opening through the roof and lower the paralyzed friend to Jesus. And we learned: we, too, must persist over our own obstacles to Jesus—we must continue looking to him, setting aside the sin and weighty obstacles that keep us from him.
3. A godly community carries the mats of others:
One of the most beautiful aspects of the story is the glimpse we get into the love displayed by four friends: the carrying of a fifth powerless friend all the way to the all-powerful one (Matthew 9:2; Mark 2:3; Luke 5:18). It’s a glimpse that encourages us to ask the question, “Whose mat are we carrying?” Inevitably, someone in our lives is paralyzed in their own sin and needs more than anything else the forgiving power of Christ. So, whose mat are you carrying? Think of the neighbors, friends, coworkers, and family members who need Christ and ask yourself, “How can I help carry this person to Jesus?”
The “Stage 3” scream everyone wants to know about:
During the sermon, I mentioned the three stages of a child’s screams. Stage 1: When a child’s toy is taken away by a sibling. Stage 2: When a child is pushed, shoved, or hit by its sibling. Stage 3: When a child gets hurt really, really bad. Parents know that “Stage 3” cry all too well. It usually involves some sort of accident. Take, for instance, a time in my own life while I was playing with childhood friends in my neighborhood. My parents had purchased a new construction home in the early phases of the community being built. This meant a lot of homes were still being constructed after we had moved in. For us as elementary-aged children, this also meant we were able to grab unused brick roof tiles from the ground to see which one of us could throw them the furthest down a canyon. Right in the middle of our contest, one of those roof tiles hit me right on the top of my head, causing a very bloody head wound. Enter “Stage 3” cry!
Thankfully, my young friends were wise enough to help me back to my mom. They understood I couldn’t fix my bloody head on my own. They also understood they couldn’t fix the gash in my skull either! So they took me to the person who was able to help me at that moment: my mom.
It helps us understand something the four friends from our story understood: their friend needed help outside of themselves. And they knew exactly who to take their friend to. My dear church: as we go about our day-to-day lives this week, let’s remember we’re powerless to stand on our own. We all need Jesus. In our need for Jesus, therefore, let’s remember to be okay with interruptions in life, to persist over our own obstacles to him, and to help carry others to him. You can review the sermon and download the sermon note sheet here (includes follow up discussion questions for your small group).
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. (Rom. 15:13)
Grace and peace in Christ,
Pastor Marttell Sanchez