“The Faith of Friends…” Talk at The Point Church // 10/08/14

Luke 5:17-26 TNIV
7 One day Jesus was teaching, and
Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there. They had come from every
village of Galilee and from Judea and Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was
with Jesus to heal the sick. 18 Some men came carrying a paralyzed man
on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus. 19
When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on
the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the
crowd, right in front of Jesus. 20 When Jesus saw their faith, he said,
“Friend, your sins are forgiven.” 21 The Pharisees and the
teachers of the law began thinking to themselves, “Who is this fellow who
speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” 22 Jesus
knew what they were thinking and asked, “Why are you thinking these things
in your hearts? 23 Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or
to say, ‘Get up and walk’? 24 But I want you to know that the Son of Man
has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the paralyzed man,
“I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” 25
Immediately he stood up in front of them, took what he had been lying on and
went home praising God. 26 Everyone was amazed and gave praise to God.
They were filled with awe and said, “We have seen remarkable things
today.”

 

 

Talk // The Faith of Friends
 So we are on our 3rd Summer Sunday
and over the summer we are looking at some of
the parables of Jesus in Luke’s gospel
. Last week Will talked about healing
after looking at Jesus healing the man with leprosy. This week we see another
healing, this time of the paralysed man.
So in prep
for this talk, I’ve been reading a book called: Through Peasant Eyes’ by
Kenneth Bailey, which looks at the oral
traditions of story telling
in the middle east and particularly in relation
to Luke’s Gospel. Parables and much of the early sharing of the Christian faith
were shared orally by people meeting each other, sharing stories, social time.
In his book
Bailey says of the parables:
‘The parables of Jesus are a concrete/dramatic form of
theological language that presses the listener to respond. They reveal the
nature of the kingdom of God and/or indicate how a child of the kingdom should
act…’
and I was
really struck by this line but just to make it a bit simpler:
We are the children of the kingdom of God right?
So then, when we read the parables of Jesus, they should teach us how to act in
a general sense but also foster in us some sort of response. Some sort of action.
So as I was
looking at this passage, which has so much in it, and thinking on what to talk
about today, I thought ok, well what is it that should be the response here? What is the action that we should take away from
reading this story?
And what
stood out to me and what I want to focus on today, is not in the man who was
healed, ‘Matt’,  but actually it’s the people who carried him. The
people who did something extraordinary for this man, who went way more than the extra mile for him.
Not for themselves but for him, for this one guy, lying paralysed on a mat.
Why? Why
would they do that?
Well I think
it’s simple, the passage tells us that ‘Jesus saw their
faith’.
So. Jesus saw their faith. And that’s why we
asked you to think about how your faith has impacted others. How have others
seen your faith?
I think
these men were lovers of Jesus, early followers and they knew what Jesus was
all about and they wanted some of that for their friend. We don’t actually know
whether the friend wanted it but I guess he didn’t have much choice!
The point
is, they loved Jesus enough and they loved this man enough to be pretty radical
in getting him to meet Jesus.
And that is what I am going to suggest should
be our guide, or our response to this parable. A guide to what our actions
should be as children of the kingdom of God. Do we love Jesus enough to enable
others to meet him? Do we love others enough to be radical in how we help them
to meet him?
Do we?
There’s our
challenge… and it’s a challenge to us as individuals and as a church.
To love Jesus enough and to love others
enough.
Xxxxx
Another book
I’m reading, which I will probably be mentioning a lot in the months to come is
this: ‘Being Church, Doing Life’.
It’s all about people getting outside the church, being missional, meeting
people where they are at. I really recommend it, especially as we start to look
at being a transforming presence in Mid Sussex. Anyway, I just want to read you
a bit from this book: It talks about a mission heart, but don’t freak out at
the term ‘mission’ in this sense, it simply means having a heart for others.
P.152,
So – Are we up for it?  To be part of buildings Gods kingdom?
xxxxxx
So, going back to our passage in Luke, what do
we actually know about these men?

What can we learn from them? Well we don’t actually know that much to be honest
but we can use some assumptions too! This
parable actually also appears in Mark 2 and a version of it in Matthew 9 as
well.
Mark tells
us there were 4 men, here in Luke it just says some, but as it says he was
lying on mat we can guess that’s one at each corner, carrying it like a
stretcher.
So, four men
are carrying a paralysed man on his mat.
Now don’t forget this is a culture with
little medical provision
. There
would have been no hope for any cure for this man or any improvement. We don’t
know how long he has been paralysed, whether from an accident or injury or from
birth. But he would have probably been shunned by society. Often illness and
affliction were seen as spiritual
a judgement from God or something demonic. Many
people with long term illness or disabilities were reduced to begging in the
streets.
So for four
men to willingly pick up this paralysed man and carry him to see Jesus, I think
we can assume there must have been some quite strong connection – probably
family or perhaps friends. Of course as followers of Jesus they could have been
simply acting out of compassion but I believe with the lengths they go to it is
likely to be someone they know. And I think that is confirmed also when we see
what they do. Not only do they bring him to Jesus but they are so desperate to
get him before this great healer that they go to really desperate measures
don’t they?!
xxxxxxx
Here’s the other thing about this situation.
Here we have a building rammed with people to hear this young Prophet speak.
Of course we don’t know who all the people
in that house were but we do know that there were a lot of religious leaders there – from every village of Galilee and Judea
and Jerusalem. So we’re not talking 2 or 3 here, that’s a lot of religious leaders.  (v17)
We also know
from what happens later that they are really here to check him out aren’t they.
They want to prove him wrong, they want to be able to condemn him.
So we have a
house full to bursting (no H&S obvs!) with a bunch of cynnics come to check
out this guy, responding to reports of a prophet not following their teachings
perhaps, ready to catch him out, ready to condemn him. These are not men who
need Jesus, they are men who think they are better than him.
And yet outside there is a man, one man, who
cannot get in
. Possibly
the one man who really needs to get in and he can’t. His way is blocked by
religious leaders. His way is blocked by a crowd. Perhaps even his way is
blocked because of his condition, because of his needs.  In other places where Jesus has preached, the
bible talks of him healing all their sick but not here. Here it says the spirit
is present to heal but until this man comes in no one is healed. Are people repulsed by his needs? Do
they keep him out rather than making a way to let him in?
xxxxx
I think that gives us a picture of what the
church is often like. A

building full of people focussed on what is going on in the inside, whist
outside are those that really need to meet Jesus but for one reason or another
can’t or won’t come in. Perhaps we are repulsed by the needs of others? Perhaps
we don’t want to make a way to let people in?  ….
xxxxx
Yet here, outside there are 4 men showing
their love for Jesus
, showing
their love for their friend, absolutely determined to get in. Radically
determined I think. I mean that’s hard core isn’t it digging a hole in a roof!
(literally hard core!)
Not sure any
of our bits of paper will say that!
But anyway
they get in and what happens? Jesus saw
their faith. HE SAW THEIR FAITH.
Not the mans, Matt’s faith, but their
faith, the friends faith. IT is the faith of the friends in bringing this man
to Jesus that prompts Jesus to say to the man ‘Friend your sins are forgiven’.  That is the impact that our faith can have on our friends and
those around us. OUR faith… this is so key!!!
In the book:
‘being church, doing life’ – here’s an example from one person:
P;48 ‘Ive become a follower and lover of God, because I was introduced to him like that by people who have God in them, and not the religious stuff…”
That’s what
our faith can do for others….
xxxx
And Jesus
didn’t literally see their faith did he, its not like they had a sign around
their necks saying ‘full of faith’ – no
he saw it in their actions,
in their love for their friend. Having faith is
one thing, but we usually have to act on it as well. We don’t just sit there
waiting for God to wave some magic wand over us do we?
Do people around us, SEE our faith? In our
actions, in our lives?
In these
friends we see in them, their love of Jesus, they know who he is and what he
can do, not just for them but for their friend.
You
can just imagine it – They are undeterred. Outside the building
. They are so close. They can probably hear
Jesus’ voice, they know they are so close. Even the man on the blanket can
hear. They are not giving up now!
So they do something so crazy out
of desperation, they dig through the roof. Mark tells us: in 2:4 ‘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 paralysed
man was lying on.’ Or ‘through the tiles’ as it says here in Luke. Either way
it was not an easy task to say the least!
We see their desire to see transformation in
their friend
We see their
sense of urgency – they don’t give up and say we’ll come back another day – who
knows Jesus might not be there another day.
And we see
ingenuity. I mean they dig a hole on a roof – how’s that for thinking outside
the box!
xxxxx
I just wonder how often we take our faith for
granted.
You know
you don’t have to be standing on a street corner shouting about it, but we are
not supposed to be hidden, people should see our faith. Luke 8:16 parable of the lamp on a stand: ‘ no one lights a lamp
and hides it in a jar or puts it under his bed. Instead he puts it on a stand
so that those who come in can see the light’…
Can people see your light?
Now I’m sure
I’ve stood up here and said this before but
we are all different, ok
. I know that I am a natural evangelist, I will
talk to anyone about my faith but I know that not everyone finds that easy. But
we can all find ways to let our lights shine without shouting about it. If We are part of Gods plan to ‘contribute
to the salvation of others’ – then Surely God gifts us, prepares us, equips us
for all he has for us
?
We can all
impact those around us with our faith. That’s why I wanted to see what you said
– how you have used your faith?
How your
faith has impacted those around you – because we are all different. We can all
learn from each other.
So how do
people see your faith? How has your faith impacted others?
Share some
examples….. from the box! and expand on them…
xxxx
 
Earlier in the service we had asked people to write down times when their faith had impacted others and put them in a box at the front. Then at this point we read some of them out. It was a powerful time of encouraging each other as individuals and as the body of the church and then we prayed together… 
 
Some examples were:
 

“Prayed for many in the town, healings are happening here! this town’s ready for revival!”
“all my friends were gossiping in the common room at college and I wasn’t joking in but instead reading. This started a conversation about why I wasn’t joining in and showed Jesus!”

“I did a bible reading at school”

“I was walking down the street and a lady and her dog saw me. The dog approached me. The lady was so surprised that she kept asking what is it about you? Well I told her it was Jesus and I was able to pray for her right there”

“My friends come to me when they’ve got tough stuff going on in their lives and need advice”

“By treating anyone who comes into our house as if it was God coming in, we’ve recently had the theory tested when we found a group of half drunk teenagers partying in our house (as guests of our daughter). We didn’t kick off but cooked pizzas and made them all feel welcome”
” loved a friend who was going through a really tough time, ended up sharing Jesus with her and eventually she became a Christian!”

” Aiming to run a business with kingdom values, creating a supernatural workplace environment”
” Telling people at work that I go to church”