“17 On one of those days, as he was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there, who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was with him to heal. 18 And behold, some men were bringing on a bed a man who was paralyzed, and they were seeking to bring him in and lay him before Jesus, 19 but finding no way to bring him in, because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down with his bed through the tiles into the midst before Jesus. 20 And when he saw their faith, he said, “Man, your sins are forgiven you.” 21 And the scribes and the Pharisees began to question, saying, “Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” 22 When Jesus perceived their thoughts, he answered them, “Why do you question in your hearts? 23 Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? 24 But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the man who was paralyzed—“I say to you, rise, pick up your bed and go home.” 25 And immediately he rose up before them and picked up what he had been lying on and went home, glorifying God. 26 And amazement seized them all, and they glorified God and were filled with awe, saying, “We have seen extraordinary things today.”
We ended our series on Intentions, talking about Community. Talking about how much we need each other… about how no man is an island, and the reality is that there will come times in your life when you will need someone to lean on… you will need someone who is willing to carry your burdens… who will weep with you, who will mourn with you… Thats what (Romans 12:15) says… we rejoice with those who rejoice, but we also weep with those who weep… we mourn with those who mourn. We allow hard times to build us into a stronger community, one that can withstand the attacks of the enemy… one that can withstand the times that we feel numb… or we feel lost… or we feel like there is nothing that we can do.
This passage in Luke is one of my favorite passages in the whole bible. Its a beautiful moment in which Jesus heals a man who was paralyzed. Who had no where to turn. Who was numb. He couldn’t even move… but his friends, they could still move. And what did they do? They came alongside this man, and they fought! They knew, he needs Jesus, certainly Jesus can heal him… But the crowd was to large… to many people, and there was no way to get them in… so they went gangster.
They somehow get this man onto the top of the roof of this house… We all love the fact that they cut a whole in someones roof and lowered the man down to Jesus… but how did they raise him onto the roof? The whole thing would have taken an enormous amount of work. But just like James says (James 2:14-17) Faith without works is dead. We can have faith all day for the reconciliation of our City… for the reconciliation of Detroit back to Jesus, but if we aren’t working for it, its dead. It won’t happen. At least not on account of us.
These men, they could have had all the faith in the world that Jesus could heal their friend, but if they didn’t take action then that man would have died still paralyzed… never walking again. But no, they worked. They raised him up onto that roof, the cut a hole in the roof of the house large enough to lower the man through, and then lowered him.
But look at what it says…
When Jesus saw THEIR faith to said to THE MAN… “Man, your sins are forgiven.”
It doesn’t say that he saw the faith of the man who needed the healing… Jesus healed this man because of the faith of his friends.
Because he saw THEIR FAITH… he said to the paralyzed man… your sins are forgiven, and then he healed him.
This is why we put such an emphasis on community in our church. Because there are going to be moments when you won’t be able to carry yourself… but there are plenty of others who will be able to.
When I spoke two Sundays ago, I told the story of how there was a series of events that happened all one after another in the course of 24 hours…
The first one was Zach went to the hospital.
Then I found out about my friend David, that he was killed in New York.
Then the next morning I found out that my pastors father passed away.
and then that evening I got call from my mom, and I didn’t share the details of this during service because she wanted to wait until a few tests came back… but she called to tell me that she had been diagnosed with cancer. Again. 12 years ago she had cancer, and she fought it and she won. She had been clean of it for 12 years… but when she called to tell me that it was back, especially after having the day I had had so far… I just went numb. I literally said to her “Don’t tell me that. Not today.” I couldn’t even begin to tell you what I was feeling, I couldn’t even get to a point that day where I could process any of it. Dawn and I went to dinner, and I didn’t say a word. I just sat there, and acted all dumpy.
Its easy to believe in the power of healing, when its all just a theory.
Its easy to believe in the sovereignty of God, when its all just a theory.
But when the day comes when your faith is really tested, it is hard to do what James says… its hard to count it all joy. Yet we know, because we have read it and been taught it over and over and over and over…
When your faith is tested… it will produce steadfastness
And when steadfastness has reached its full effect… you will be perfect.
Isn’t that what we all want? To be complete. To know that we are all that we are supposed to be… to know that we did all we can do, and that God used us in exactly the way that he wanted to?
When I heard my mom tell me those words… I didn’t feel complete. I actually felt really alone. My kids were all in the house running around, yelling… I was telling them to be quiet so I could listen to the words that my mom was sharing with me… I was surrounded by children, on the phone with my mother, about to go and meet up with my wife, and I felt alone.
Because my faith was being tested, and i was shutting down to it. But when I began to talk about it, to work it out a little bit in the context of community, to open up to my family a little, to share my heart with other people in the church, even if they were nothing more than a listening ear I felt like they were carrying my burdens with me.
When I finally opened up to my wife about it, it just felt like suddenly she was carrying it with me. She was lightening my load… I realized, “man, if I need this, then other people need it too…” I text my sister who lives in Georgia, and i asked her “Are you okay?” – How can I help carry her load? She just responded to me “No. Not really. I hate that I am down here… I hate that we live here right now.” – and strangely, that inspired me… the next day I told Dawn, “after church Sunday we need to go to Lansing. For 8 years we didn’t live close to family, now we do… we can be there. And we went… and honestly, I didn’t really even think about making that trip until I got that text from my sister… about her saying “I can’t be with them right now, and its killing me.” So we went and just spent some time with my mom. Let her spend some time with her grandkids.
I was in New York this week and I was talking with my Pastor there. He was asking me “How nice is it that your parents are able to go to your church?” and I told him… “Man, I don’t even feel right telling you this with everything you have gone through in the last couple of weeks… but we aren’t sure how much longer they are going to be able to come… my moms cancer came back, and they may need to move down south for treatment, we aren’t sure yet.”
And I literally could feel him taking on that burden, right there with me. Maybe for him it just hit so close to home, he had just went through something horrible, and I could see him break a little for me… for my family. It was community. It was someone weeping with me while I weep.
Community and healing, they go hand in hand. Jesus healed this man because of the faith of his friends…
faith that was not dead and without works… but the faith of his friends that took action and did the most unconventional thing possible to get that man close to Jesus.
Maybe you are here and you say “I don’t need anything right now” – but maybe someone else needs your faith, for their miracle. Maybe I need your faith, for my Mom’s miracle.
Come alongside each other.
We need your faith.
I need your faith.
Courage Church needs your faith.
Detroit needs your faith.
carry each other burdens.