Manuscript for Four Responses to Jesus

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DATE: 3/17-18/18
SERIES: Mark 1-3
SERMON: Four Responses to Jesus
TEXT: Mark 2:1-12, 3:7-12 (ESV)

WELCOME

It’s good to be with all of you at Gateway Church this weekend. And one thing I want you to know — and it doesn’t matter if it’s your first time with us or if you’re worshipping at our North Main campus — one thing I want you to know is that God loves you and I love you too.

 

SERIES INTRODUCTION

And we’re continuing our series in the gospel of Mark. So if you have your Bible please turn with me to Mark chapter two. We’ll be looking at verses one through twelve. And then a few verses in Mark chapter three.  

And, if you’re a guest with us, something we like to do at Gateway is let you ask questions. So if you have a question during the sermon, you can text your question to the number printed on the bulletin or you can submit it on the Gateway app.

 

RE-ANNOUNCE AND READ THE TEXT

Here are the words found in Mark chapter two. Beginning in verse one.  

“And when he returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. 2 And many were gathered together, so that there was no more room, not even at the door. And he was preaching the word to them. 3 And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. 4 And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him, and when they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay. 5 And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” 6 Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, 7 “Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” 8 And immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to them, “Why do you question these things in your hearts? 9 Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk’? 10 But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins” — he said to the paralytic — 11 “I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.” 12 And he rose and immediately picked up his bed and went out before them all, so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!” (Mark 2:1-12 ESV)

And now let’s turn to Mark chapter three. Beginning in verse seven.   

“Jesus withdrew with his disciples to the sea, and a great crowd followed, from Galilee and Judea 8 and Jerusalem and Idumea and from beyond the Jordan and from around Tyre and Sidon. When the great crowd heard all that he was doing, they came to him. 9 And he told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, lest they crush him, 10 for he had healed many, so that all who had diseases pressed around him to touch him. 11 And whenever the unclean spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, “You are the Son of God.” 12 And he strictly ordered them not to make him known.” (Mark 3:7-12 ESV)

 

SERMON INTRODUCTION

So here we are again with Jesus healing people. And before we get to far into this sermon — let me just say upfront — that we’re not really going to deal with the story in chapter three. It really could’ve been added to last week’s sermon, but we already had three stories to look at — and sermons can only be so long before there’s mutiny — so we’ll look at the story very briefly today.  

The story in chapter three is very similar to the story of Jesus healing the demonized man in the synagogue from Mark chapter one. There’s a big crowd. Some of the people have demons. And Jesus heals them.  

And as He heals the people — the demons recognize who Jesus is — and they respond in fear — just like last week — and then Jesus commands the demons to not reveal who He is.

Again, very similar to last week’s story, but there’s one thing we should look at more closely before we go to chapter two. There’s a question you may have thought of last week — and I know some of you did because a few of you texted in a question like the one we’re about to ask — the question is this: Why does Jesus command the demons to not reveal who He is?

Now there’s some debate about this, but I think the reason why Jesus didn’t want the demons to tell others who He is is because Jesus had other people in mind who would be His witnesses — and it wasn’t the demons — I’m talking about His disciples.  

Later on we’ll see religious leaders accuse Jesus of being on the same team with Satan — obviously they were a bit off in their assumption — but if Jesus had allowed the demons to be His witnesses how much more so would it have looked as if Jesus was not on God’s team, but on team Satan?

So I think that’s the reason why Jesus commands the demons to not reveal who He is when He casts them out of a person.

But now, let’s jump back to chapter two. And here’s what we’re going to see.  

There are four responses to Jesus in our story. And what I want us to do, is take some time to do a personal evaluation as to which group we’re most like — which of these groups are you part of?

And this may be a bit uncomfortable because many times we don’t like to think deeply about our soul’s condition. We don’t like to be challenged about where we are spiritually. It’s much easier to just go on with life — than to pause and dwell on these type of spiritual things.

But — as you’ll see — not dwelling on these things will have eternal consequences.

So let’s see who we are in this story. We’ve got four groups to look at, but there’s one person in the story that — well there’s no polite way to say this — there’s one person in this story that just isn’t you. You don’t have a chance. I don’t have a chance. No matter who you think you are, there’s one person in this story that you’re not. And that’s Jesus.

Jesus is the center of the story — He gets the attention — and He always gets a response out of people. You can’t have an encounter with Jesus and not respond to Him — and in this story we see four responses to Jesus. There’s the response of the paralytic. The response of the paralytic’s friends. The response of the scribes — the religious leaders. And the response of the crowd.  

But which of these groups are you most like? That’s what I want us to discover. And we’re going to work our way from the largest group to the smallest group.

So let’s begin by looking at how the crowd responds to Jesus. Let’s begin in verse one.

 

MAIN POINT 1

“And when he returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. 2 And many were gathered together, so that there was no more room, not even at the door. And he was preaching the word to them. 3 And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. 4 And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him, and when they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay. 5 And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” 6 Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, 7 “Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” 8 And immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to them, “Why do you question these things in your hearts? 9 Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk’? 10 But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins” — he said to the paralytic — 11 “I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.” 12 And he rose and immediately picked up his bed and went out before them all, so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!” (Mark 2:1-12 ESV)

Here’s one way to respond to Jesus. “The crowd is amazed by what Jesus can do, yet they don't follow Him.” The crowd is amazed by what Jesus can do, yet they don’t follow Him.

Once again Jesus has attracted a large crowd. It appears as if we’re back in Peter’s house where — last week — we saw Jesus heal Peter’s mother-in-law. And although Jesus had to leave town — He’s found His way back for a brief stay — but another large crowd has gathered to see Him. And the crowd’s so big that not one more person can fit in the home. It’s standing room only. People are lined up outside the home. It’s a big chaotic mess.

And the crowd is present during the exchange between Jesus, the paralyzed man, and the religious leaders. So imagine being there and overhearing the entire discussion. The crowd’s right there when the paralyzed man stands up, picks up the mat he was carried on, and walks out of the home.  

And this crowd is rightfully amazed. Mark even tells us that the crowd, “glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!” (Mark 2:12b ESV)

Now — that doesn’t mean they worshipped God — it means they were so astonished by what they’d just saw that they had no doubt that Jesus was a great man sent by God to do amazing things.  

 

SUMMARY OF MAIN POINT 1

But that seems to be the extent of their response. They’re amazed at what Jesus can do, but they’re not compelled to follow Him — to be His disciple.

 

APPLICATION

And for many people — maybe even you — this is as far as your relationship with Jesus goes. You’re amazed by what He’s done — you’re astonished by His love, His sacrifice, His moral teaching, His miracles — but you’re not compelled to be His disciple. And that’s because — and maybe this is true for you — you’ve done the math — and following Jesus just costs too much — being amazed by Him is a lot cheaper — a lot easier — being amazed doesn’t cost as much.

Maybe you’ve experienced a miracle and you gave Jesus the credit for it, but you’re still not His disciple. You’re thankful for what He did, but you haven’t been changed. You’re not trying to obey Him, or live for His glory, or find your joy in Him alone. You’re amazed by Jesus — to be sure — but you’re not saved by Him. And like the crowds in Jesus’ life, when life gets hard and Jesus — instead of astonishing you — challenges you to obey Him — like the crowds — you just walk away from Him.

And if you’ve been in church for any amount of time, how many people have you seen walk away from Jesus who were once amazed by Him? They may still claim to be a Christian, but there’s nothing in their life that resembles a life that’s following Jesus. And this can be confusing — “man I thought they loved Jesus” — it can be saddening — and — man — it can be frustrating.

But that’s what happens when you’re just part of the crowd. You may be amazed by Jesus, but you’re life isn’t changed by Him.  

 

TRANSITION

Let’s look at a second response to Jesus. Let’s read verse one again.

 

MAIN POINT 2

“And when he returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. 2 And many were gathered together, so that there was no more room, not even at the door. And he was preaching the word to them. 3 And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. 4 And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him, and when they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay. 5 And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” 6 Now some of the scribes were sitting there, (and what are they doing? They’re…) questioning in their hearts, 7 “Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” 8 And immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to them, “Why do you question these things in your hearts? 9 Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk’? 10 But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins” — he said to the paralytic — 11 “I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.” 12 And he rose and immediately picked up his bed and went out before them all, so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!” (Mark 2:1-12 ESV)

Here’s another way to respond to Jesus. “The religious leaders are corrected by what Jesus can do, yet they still reject Him.” The religious leaders are corrected by what Jesus can do, yet they still reject Him.

Now here’s the dangerous thing about the religious leaders in our story. They have good theology, but they misapply it. They actually believe the right stuff, but they apply what they believe incorrectly — which causes them to reject Jesus.

Their correct theology is found in verse seven where they say, “Who can forgive sins but God alone?” (Mark 2:7b ESV)

And they nail it perfectly. Only God can forgive sins — so their theology’s good — but — like I said — their application is off — because when Jesus basically tells them, “You’re right. Only God can forgive sins. And to show you I’m God, I’m going to heal this paralyzed man” — which is exactly what He does — how do the religious leaders respond?  

Well we don’t actually get their response in this story, but — throughout the rest of Mark’s gospel — we’ll see the religious leaders plot against Jesus and ultimately have Him murdered because of their hatred towards Him.

 

SUMMARY OF MAIN POINT 2

Even when the religious leaders are corrected by Jesus — with undeniable proof that He’s God — they still reject Him. The choose to be His enemy instead of becoming His disciple.

 

APPLICATION

And for some of us, this is where we are. No matter what Jesus reveals to you — no matter what truth you hear or experience — you’re dead set on rejecting Christ. And this can be a particularly hard truth for those of us who love our unbelieving friends, neighbors, family members, and co-workers. We’re continually disheartened by their outright rejection of Jesus.  

But what about you — is this you? You’re not amazed by Jesus — like the people of the crowd — no — you hate Him. You might not say it out loud, but you’ve rejected Jesus and you refuse to follow Him — to believe in Him — to be His disciple.  

And friends, I fear that there may be many people here who are rejecting Jesus in the same way the religious leaders did. Meaning you have good theology — you’ve got accurate knowledge about God — but you refuse to submit to Jesus’ authority and are dead set on being your own authority.  

It could be your rejection of certain parts of the Bible, or submitting to the pastors in a local church, or refusing to forgive as Christ has commanded — it could be any number of things — but the point is that you’ve purposefully and willfully rejected Christ even when He’s proven to you that — if you’re gonna pick an enemy — pick anyone other than Him.  

Yet many respond to Jesus this way.

 

TRANSITION

A third way to respond to Jesus. Back to verse one.

 

MAIN POINT 3

“And when he returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. 2 And many were gathered together, so that there was no more room, not even at the door. And he was preaching the word to them. 3 And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. 4 And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him, and when they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay. 5 And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” 6 Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, 7 “Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” 8 And immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to them, “Why do you question these things in your hearts? 9 Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk’? 10 But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins” — he said to the paralytic — 11 “I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.” 12 And he rose and immediately picked up his bed and went out before them all, so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!” (Mark 2:1-12 ESV)

A third response to Jesus. “The friends have faith in what Jesus can do, so they carry their friend to Him.” The friends have faith in what Jesus can do, so they carry their paralyzed friend to Him.

Can you imagine the determination they must’ve had in order to carry their friend to Jesus? I’m amazed at their creativity. When they realize they can’t get their friend to Jesus through the front door — they find another way. I mean — they vandalized the home — but they got their friend to Jesus — and that’s what mattered most.  

And I love the phrase in verse five, “When Jesus saw their faith.” The faith of the friends. It wasn’t the faith of the paralyzed man that Jesus saw — it was his friend’s faith. They believed in what Jesus could do — that He could heal their friend.  

And this faith of theirs was the fuel behind their hard work. It was the fuel behind their creativity in making a hole in the roof when there was no other way in. Their faith is what led their friend to Jesus.

And notice the outcome for their friend. Not only is he healed — not only was he able to walk — but Jesus forgives the man of his sins. Now this isn’t implying that the man’s sin had caused his paralysis — what Jesus is implying — by first forgiving the man of his sins — is that being paralyzed isn’t the worst thing that could happen to the man.  

The worst thing that could happen is to be healed — for him to be able to walk — and yet still not be reconciled with God — to still be guilty — to still be destined for Hell while walking there on his own two feet.

 

SUMMARY OF MAIN POINT 3

But the friends of this man loved him dearly, so they carried him to Jesus. They had faith in what Jesus could do, so they carried their friend to Him.

 

APPLICATION

Now for many of us, this is the group we’re part of — or should be part of. You have faith in Jesus. You believe what the Bible says about Him. You believe that He can forgive sins and heal people. You believe all of the right things about Jesus — and — you haven’t rejected Him — like the religious leaders.  

But the question for you is this:  Are you carrying other people to Jesus? Are their people that you so love — like these friends — that you’ll pick them up, carry them and — if need be — tear a hole in a roof — so they encounter Jesus? Does your heart break for the people you know who will spend eternity without Christ unless they believe in Him?  

But how are they to believe in Jesus if someone doesn’t tell them about Him — the Bible asks. And the implication — for those of us who are Christians — is that we’re the ones who tell others about Jesus. We’re the ones who carry our friends and family members to Jesus. We’re the ones who tear a hole in the roof. We’re the ones who lead people into the presence of Christ.

And I believe that there are many of us who need to take ownership of our role in carrying people to Jesus. And it begins by giving up many selfish things in order to bring others to Christ. The paralyzed man’s friends missed out on stuff. If they would’ve left their friend behind they may have gotten a good seat in Peter’s house — maybe even a front row seat.  

But they loved their friend so much — that I believe — they joyfully sacrificed a front row seat so their friend could meet Jesus.

Who are the friends in your life that you need to carry to Jesus? Maybe invite them to Gateway so they can encounter Jesus. Or invite them over for dinner so that your friends — who don’t believe — are carried to Jesus by you. What kind of friend are you being to people who don’t yet believe in Jesus?

 

TRANSITION

We’ve seen the response of the crowd, the response of the religious leaders, and the response of the friends. Only one response left. One last time through our verses.

 

MAIN POINT 4

“And when he returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. 2 And many were gathered together, so that there was no more room, not even at the door. And he was preaching the word to them. 3 And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. 4 And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him, and when they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay. 5 And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” 6 Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, 7 “Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” 8 And immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to them, “Why do you question these things in your hearts? 9 Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk’? 10 But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins” — he said to the paralytic — 11 “I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.” 12 (And in verse twelve it says that he did what?  It says that he…) rose (he stood up on his once paralyzed legs) and immediately picked up his bed and went out before them all, so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!” (Mark 2:1-12 ESV)

A final response to Jesus. “The paralytic is changed by what Jesus can do, and he immediately obeys Him.” The paralytic is changed by Jesus, and he immediately obeys Him.

I think we can all agree that the paralyzed man is helpless — he can’t get to Jesus on his own. He needs his friends to carry him — Mark doesn’t even tells us if he wants to go see Jesus or not.

And even more baffling is that once he’s lowered in front of Jesus, he does absolutely nothing to earn his forgiveness or his healing. He doesn't even ask Jesus to heal him.

He’s simply a recipient of the kindness, goodness, and graciousness of Jesus Christ who forgives sinners — even those who have to be carried to Him by others — people who have nothing to offer Jesus — but their brokenness.

 

SUMMARY OF MAIN POINT 4

But this man — this paralytic — is changed by what Jesus can do. And notice his response. He immediately obeys.

“Stand up. Pick up your bed. And walk on out.” And I always imagine that Jesus thinks, “Walk on out while I give the ‘I told you so’ stare to the religious leaders. I told you who I was. So go ahead and take a good look at this guy walking on out of here.”

And the man — having been changed by Christ — simply stands up. Picks up his mat. And walks on out. No high fiving the crowd. He doesn’t moonwalk his way out — or do the worm. No celebration. And from what we read, not even a thank you to Jesus.

Just simple obedience. He received forgiveness. He received healing. And he obeyed.

 

APPLICATION

Now if we’re not careful — we may be quick to reject this as our group. None of us want to be the person in need — the person who needs to be healed or forgiven — the person who can’t even get to Jesus on our own. No one wants to be the person who’s paralyzed and unable to do anything for themselves.

But I’m sure some of us are here. You’re spiritually or emotionally paralyzed. Maybe you’re not reading your Bibles regularly or praying regularly. Maybe you’ve been spiritually stagnant or spiritually depressed for some time and you’ve kept it all to yourself.

Some here may seriously doubt whether or not you’re really a Christian — others have no assurance that you’re saved. Others lack hope, others have no joy, others no peace.

And here’s what this means.

First, more of us need to be carrying our friends to Jesus. Our friends right here in this church. It took a few friends to carry one guy to Jesus. And more of us need to come alongside our friends and carry them to Jesus.  

They need someone to genuinely care about them — not superficially care — but genuinely care about them. People who will help them connect to Jesus.

And here’s the second thing. Those of you who are struggling need to trust that it’s OK to let others know that you’re struggling. It’s OK to be struggling right now. It’s OK to need to be carried to Jesus.  

We won’t think any less of you, we won’t judge you — and if anyone does — my job as your shepherd is to protect you from those people. To correct them. To discipline them — if needed — and I promise that I will because I love you and them.  

But can we just give up pretending that life’s perfect and let others know what’s really going on? That you’re struggling. That your passion for God has been lacking. That you could use some accountability with basic things — like — reading the Bible. That there’s stuff going on that’s paralyzed you and you could use a few friends to carry you to Jesus.

 

PROPOSITION

Here’s the bottom line:  Everyone responds to Jesus, but few respond to Him in faith that leads to obedience. Everyone responds to Jesus, but few respond to Him in faith that leads to obedience.

 

SERMON CONCLUSION

The crowd responded by being amazed at what Jesus could do, but they didn’t become His disciple. The religious leaders were corrected by Jesus, yet they still rejected Him. The friends had faith in what Jesus could do, and they carried their friend to Him. And the paralytic is changed by Jesus and he responds with obedience.

Which of these groups do you find yourself in today?  

Are you simply amazed by Jesus?   

Have you been corrected by Him?  

Should you be carrying your friends to Jesus?  

Or are you like the paralyzed man — do you need to be carried to Jesus?  

Right now each of us are responding to Jesus. And, if you’re wanting to be close to Him, let me be a friend for you today — let me carry you to Jesus as we pray. Let’s pray.

 

PRAYER

Heavenly Father, remind us often that everyone responds to Jesus — we’re all responding to Him right now. Some of us have been amazed, but aren’t following Him. Some of us have been corrected, yet still reject Him. Some of us should be carrying our friends to Him. And some of us are paralyzed, and need others to carry us into Your presence.  

Help us to believe that Jesus loves to forgive sinners. He will forgive you — if you’ve only been amazed and have never believed. He will forgive you — if you’ve been corrected, but thus far have rejected Him. He will forgive you — if you haven’t been a good friend to others — if you haven’t carried your friends to Him. And He will forgive you — if you’re spiritually paralyzed and unable to walk on your own.

Jesus loves to forgive. And He offers His forgiveness to all of us. Will you receive His forgiveness? How will you respond to Him? Jesus is saying to all of us: Your sins are forgiven. Be healed. Stand up. And follow Me. In His name we pray. Amen.