When You Have a Friend in Need
Pastor Leslie Tipton
January 30, 2011
1 A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. 2 So many gathered that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them. 3 Some men came, bringing to him a paralytic, carried by four of them. 4 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. 5When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "Son, your sins are forgiven." 6 Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, 7 "Why does this fellow talk like that? He's blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?" 8 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? 9 Which is easier: to say to the paralytic, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Get up, take your mat 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 tell you, get up, take your mat and go home." 12 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!"
28 One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, "Of all the commandments, which is the most important?" 29"The most important one," answered Jesus, "is this: 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' 31 The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these."
We’ve been listening to sermons here for sometime now about God’s greatest commandment, To love the Lord your God with all of your heart, soul, and mind. We’ve been told that we cannot love our neighbor correctly if we don’t do the first. That’s true, so true. And today we are going to look at a story about four friends who knew the truth, and knew that the Truth would set their friend free.
Some friends, very devoted friends, take matters into their own hands when they see that they have a friend in need. As the story goes, Jesus returned to Capernaum, and he is found in this particular story teaching in a home. It is obvious that his teaching had become quite popular, because, as the Bible intimates with us, “So many had gathered there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them.” There are many things that we do not know about these friends. We don’t know their names, we don’t know their nation of origin, we don’t know their skin color, we don’t know how long their paralyzed friend has known them.
However, even though we don’t know these things about his friends, there are a few things we do know. And that’s what we are going to talk about today.
The first thing we know is that they knew where to take their friend. They didn’t take him to a doctor, they took him to THE GREAT PHYSICIAN. They didn’t take him for a prescription, they took him for the WORD. Instead of giving up on him, thinking that they wouldn’t be able to help him because he couldn’t walk, they CARRIED him to the ONE, the ONLY ONE who could help him.
Mark 2:3 indicates to us that there were several friends that came with their friend, but only four of them carried him. These men were on a mission, and they were SURE of where their friend needed to be.
In our calling to fulfill the second greatest command, to love our neighbor as ourselves, we have got to know where to take our friends, and even just acquaintances, when they need help. It is a must! There is no better place to take them than to Jesus.
Hebrews 10:24 says “Think of ways to encourage one another to outbursts of love and good deeds.”
This man, this paralyzed man, needed someone to care enough to take him to Jesus. That’s us, folks. God has placed people around us, in our lives, for us to take to Jesus. Our coworkers, our relatives, our neighbors, our friends....WE have the opportunity to take them to Jesus. Even when it negatively impacts our schedules, even when it is inconvenient, when it is something we don’t feel like doing, when it is with someone we aren’t particularly fond of.....we are called to take them to Jesus.
The soldier's first article of faith is summed up nowhere more eloquently than in an 1865 letter from William Tecumseh Sherman to U.S. Grant: "I knew wherever I was that you thought of me, and if I got in a tight place you would come--if alive."
I don’t think I’m stretching it by saying everyone of us in here is alive. We MUST be there for our friends, our neighbors.
2. The second thing we know about our friend’s friends is that they didn’t let the obstacle stop them from their goal. There was a huge crowd, so much so that they were unable to get him in through the front door. They couldn’t get him close to Jesus, where they knew he needed to be. But they didn’t let that stop them. They didn’t just lay him down at the door hoping that someone else would pick him up and take him into the house eventually.
The word says that when they saw that the house was too crowded for them to get in the front door, they went up on the roof. Houses in this particular era and area were made with stairs that led up to the roof. So when the four of a kind found a full house, they beat the odds and went up the stairs. Up they go, onto the roof. We don’t know if one had the idea and the others followed suit, but we do know they made their way to the roof.
We, too, are called to beat the odds and not let the obstacles get us down. Obstacles tend to frustrate me, how about you? Anybody else frustrated by obstacles? Sure we get frustrated, because we had an expectation that something was going to go a certain way, and when it didn’t, we got frustrated. That’s what makes us stop and give up. Obstacles are just opportunities for us to grow stronger in the Lord, amen? If we would just take a moment and pray when we hit an obstacle, ask for God’s guidance, we would get so much more done for Him.
What kinds of obstacles do we run into when we are helping others? Maybe we don’t know a certain Scripture that might help them, or perhaps we don’t make the time to be with them. Sometimes we simply just don’t know what to do. But none of those things should be able to stop us in our mission to follow God’s command to help and love our neighbor. We just give up too easily. Sometimes it’s easier to give up. I tried, I really did. They were too many people there, we couldn’t get you in......sorry dude.
3. The third thing we know about his friends is that they were innovative in obtaining their goal. Again, did one suggest and the others follow? I don’t know, but to think of this is brilliant. The house itself was made of stone, with a roof made of mud and straw. They dug a hole in the roof and lowered him down, mat and all, right in front of Jesus. Wow! Now that’s thinking!
Can you even imagine being the owner of that home. Here you are, Jesus is teaching the crowd in your home, and the ceiling starts to crumble. Then a hole develops, and you realize that someone or something is digging through your roof. I wonder if his goals were blocked?
Innovation is defined as something new or different that is introduced. I’d say digging through the roof to get to Jesus is innovative. But they knew they had to get their friend to him. They were so close, they knew they couldn’t give up, so they went another route.
Sometimes we have to go another route to help our neighbors and friends, eh?
We should consider thinking outside of the box a bit more. Who can tell me in this place that some folks outside that door DON’T NEED US to help them dig through some things in their lives so that they can get to Jesus. Just like the paralyzed man’s friends, we are there to help dig through that barrier in new and different ways, and get them right in front of Jesus. And sometimes all that means is doing something practical, being a servant, meeting a need in a new or thoughtful way.
Sandra and I have a new friend. She lives down the street from us. We’ve been saying hi for months as she passed by walking her dog or after a run. Last Wednesday, I was leaving for work, and she was coming in from a run. A conversation began, we met officially, exchanged names, got to know a bit about each other, and parted ways. The next day, two police officers were killed in the line of duty in Miami Dade....one of the officers was our new friend’s life partner. We had no idea until the funeral on Monday. They lived a very private life together.
What can we do for our new friend? We don’t know her very well. We’re really just getting to know her. But we can be innovative in meeting needs and showing God’s love. A cup of coffee yesterday, a hug here and there, taking Bella (the lab) for a ride in the jeep. There are many, many ways to show our friends the love of God, and they don’t all have to be text book strategies.
These friends knew where to take their friend, they didn’t let any obstacles stop them, and they were innovative in their thinking.
But that’s not the end of the story. That’s right, they had another friend there. He knew where to take his friend, for he came to show us the way to God. He didn’t let any obstacles deter him from doing what he came here to do. And lastly, he WAS INNOVATIVE in accomplishing his mission while here on earth....very innovative. He was born of a virgin, conceived by the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit, lived a sinless life. He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one goes to the Father except THROUGH ME.” He is the WORD made flesh. And his name is Jesus.