We’re adapting the When People Meet Jesus sermon series by Simply Youth Ministry. This week was our week 1, where we looked at the account of when Jesus met the paralytic. Here’s my version of the sermon:
Some people don’t believe that He was God in the flesh, that He was the Messiah. As I’ve said before, if you don’t believe that, Jesus was either the greatest liar of all humanity or He was a crazy person. He was a liar or a lunatic or He was who He said He was. He was Lord, He was God in flesh.
We’re going to take a look over the next few weeks at what happens when people meet Jesus. When people met Jesus there was a life-changing response. Some of you come totally on your own with excitement. Some of you come; you’re pushed to be here. Some of you come with skepticism in your heart. This event that we’re going to read about today has all those types of people.
What’s keeping you from Jesus? After this service, if you and I could go to Costa Coffee and just sit in two little armchairs and talk and I said to you, “Tell me about your relationship with God,” you might say, “I don’t have one” or “I’m struggling” or “My relationship is growing and vibrant.” I’ve been talking to young people for 10 years. I’ve never met anybody when I say to them, “If Jesus really is the Son of God, if He really is who He said He was, and the Bible’s filled with his truth, and He could forgive you of your past, give you direction for your present and give you hope for the future that when you die you’d be with God in heaven, if that was true, would you want to be with a God like that?”
So I want to ask you this question: What’s keeping you from Jesus? Just be thinking about it as we go through this message. Whatever your deal is or wherever you are in your spiritual journey, I want to talk to you today about how you can be closer to God, how you can maybe even start a relationship with God if you never have.
What’s keeping you from Jesus is the crowd. You’re going, “My crowd just isn’t into church.” Or “I know some people who are Christians and I don’t necessarily like that crowd.” Is it the crowd that’s keeping you?
What you’re into. Does it feel healthy, does it feel negative? What is the condition of your life right now? What are you into?
A lot of times, especially in school, people will keep away from having a relationship with God because of what other people might say. “Someone asked you something in biology one time about evolution. They kind of made fun of my faith and I distanced myself.” What’s keeping you?
I want to read you an event that took place in the life of Jesus. Actually, this is recorded in three books of the Bible. I’m reading out of Luke 5:17 onwards: “One day Jesus was teaching. Some men came carrying a paralyzed man on a mat.” A little context: Jesus is in a house teaching. The house is packed with people. We don’t know this paraplegic’s name. I’ll give him the name “Pete” – Pete, the paraplegic. His buddies are carrying him.
They’re not out for a walk. It wasn’t like, we walk the dog, let’s walk the paraplegic. They didn’t just stumble into this house where Jesus was teaching. They were on a mission. Jesus had a reputation for being one that healed. They grabbed their mate and they take him to this house. “They tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus. When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof” Picture this for a second: they’re trying to get into the house and it’s totally packed. You’re going, “I’ve got my mate here, could you like move out of the way?” Other people are like, “I’ve got a bad hip. I’m waiting to get in line for Jesus.” They couldn’t get in through the crowd.
What I love about these guys is their creativity. They didn’t allow the crowd to stop them from coming to Jesus. “They went up on the roof.” Maybe some of you have some friends like this that will do things like this. All of a sudden you hit a dead end and one guy goes, “Let’s take him up on the roof! Let’s get on the fence, then step on the camel and get him up there.” You’ve got to imagine Pete the Paraplegic… “NO!”
It doesn’t say how they got him up there, but they get him on the roof and it says, “They remove some tiles.” You’ve got to realize that 2000 years ago the type of home, when it says “remove tiles” it wasn’t like they’re putting on hardhats and they’ve got a massive hammer. It wasn’t that type of thing. The tiles are made out of grass and sticks. It wasn’t that difficult to remove the tile. “They removed the tiles and lowered him down into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus.”
Picture this if it were to happen here. All of a sudden dirt starts popping through inside and a paraplegic is let down. Can you imagine his face as he’s being dropped in front of the crowd? We don’t know how he was let down, maybe it was like, “Hey, he’s paralysed… throw him! How much worse can he get?” We don’t know. The Bible says he’s there in the middle of everyone in front of Jesus.
Jesus, the God-man, standing right there “When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.” Wait a minute! Here I am the paraplegic going, “My sins? I want you to do more than that! We didn’t go on the roof and on the donkey and let down face first to have my sins forgiven, what’s going on here? I want to walk again. I want to ride my razor scooter!”
But what we’re going to find out in just a minute is that Jesus knew the deeper need. He came and his mates brought him so he could walk again. Yet Jesus knew the deeper need.
The next paragraph says, “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?”” A Pharisee was the religious leader of the time whose job was to kind of control religion at that time. They were freaked out by Jesus. With Jesus saying, “I forgive you,” all of the sudden these religious leaders were going, “Whoa! That’s blasphemous.” They say, “Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?”
The Bible says “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’?” That’s an interesting question, what is simpler? I’m not necessarily sure there is a right answer. Personally, I think it’s simpler to say, “I forgive your sins.” Because how can you actually even check that? You can’t quantify that. Or to say “get up and walk.”
That’s pretty miraculous to a paraplegic. What does Jesus say? He says, “But I want you to know that the Son of Man [Now Jesus is calling himself God in flesh] 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.” Immediately he stood up in front of them, took what he had been lying on and went home praising God.”
Do you think he went back through the roof? I doubt it! He’s probably swinging his mat, clearing the way, “I’m out of here! This is unbelievable,” racing his mates. Look at the result of the people in the crowd. “Everyone was amazed and gave praise to God.They were filled with awe and said, “We have seen remarkable things today.”
Now I ask this question, “So what?” So what does that have to do with us 2000 years later? When something is in the Bible – God’s love letter – and you read it, you ask the question, “So what?” Is this just an event that proves that Jesus was who He said He was? Is it just kind of a cute story of another one of the miracles that Jesus did? Or can we say, “What can we learn about this paraplegic’s faith and how might it relate to us or the friends that were there?”
Making it Personal
1. You identify your ROADBLOCKS.
That’s what these guys did. They hit a roadblock. The house is full. It’s too crowded. I started this whole message asking, “What keeps you from having an intimate relationship with God?” What are those roadblocks? Identify them. Be honest enough to say, I’m not growing spiritually because my friends are keeping me – the people I hang around with, or the stuff that I’m into. These are the roadblocks.
When you identify your roadblocks then it’s a very important question you’ve got to ask yourself. Do you want to do anything about them?
2. Get rid of your EXCUSES.
Once you identify them, get rid of the excuses. Excuses stink! I guess the older I get as a person and the longer I walk with Christ, the more I hate excuses. These guys didn’t have any excuses. They see that the place is crowded and what did they do? They went up on the roof.
What are your excuses? Here’s what people say to me. They see me and maybe they’re not doing very well and all of a sudden a youth minister walks into their workplace, “Oh, I haven’t been to church for a while because I’ve been working a lot… or my grades are bad… I’m busy… I’m playing this… my parents won’t drive me…” They just love to have those excuses. If you want to grow close to God, don’t worry about pleasing me.
Identify your roadblocks; get rid of your excuses…
3. Don’t hide your PAIN.
Don’t hide your pain. The paralysed guy he was there and there was nothing to hide, “I’m paralysed.”
Some of you in here are paralysed with what’s going on in your life, but you’re trying to hide it. How are you trying to hide it? When I say identify your roadblocks you say, “Well, I’m into partying.” Partying is just the tip of the iceberg. Why are you holding a beer on Friday night? Why are you smoking a joint on Saturday night? It goes back to a deep insecurity. It’s not the drug or it’s not the alcohol, it’s how you feel about yourself that forces you to do something you don’t want to do so you can fit in with other people. It’s that you’re deeply insecure.
Don’t try to hide your pain. You can hide it from me. You can hide it from your parents. You can hide it from your friends, but you can’t hide it from God. Everything is totally exposed before God.
God is not going to be surprised. When you say, “God, I’m into this and this” God is not in heaven going, “Oh, wow! You caught me off guard! I’m not ready to deal with that.” As a matter of fact, being a youth pastor for 10 years, there is nothing you could tell me that you’re doing that I haven’t heard in 10 years. There is no surprise. You’re not going to blow me away with what’s going on in your life, how pitiful and sinful and sad that it might be. You could say, “Chris I’m breeding Turkish people in my garage and I’m shaving their head and selling it to people who own a wig factory.” That’s not going to surprise me. Don’t hide your pain.
As a matter of fact, when the paralysed guy comes down and Jesus says, I forgive your sin, He was going after something much deeper that the physical hurt. The greatest pain that you have is your need for forgiveness. Some of you in here who haven’t been forgiven and you’re living with this guilt, you know what guilt does? Guilt creates anxiety. Guilt creates tension. You can get headaches, sick. There is a physiological connection between guilt and sickness. Some of you would feel better in life just to be forgiven.
Guilt impacts the body and hurts one’s spirit. If you get nothing out of today get this: Your deepest need in life is to be forgiven, to be reconciled with God. That’s why you were created; to have a relationship with God. Not a religion. I could care less about a religion. You and I were created to have a relationship with God. And guilt and sin separates us from God and our greatest need is to be forgiven. Your greatest need is not to have a friend. Your greatest need is not to be popular.
One of the things I love about this event is what Jesus does. He stops everything to deal with this one person. If Jesus was the visible expression of the invisible God and Jesus turned from the crowd to focus on the one, just imagine what He does with six billion people. When you come before God with your pain, God in only the way that He can, separates himself from six billion to focus on the one.
Just because you don’t understand God’s love with your finite mind doesn’t mean it’s not true. If God’s love was limited to your finite thinking, He would be a small God. If God’s love was limited to my finite thinking, He might be a little bigger God than yours but He’d still be a very small God.
4. Express faith in the miracle of FORGIVENESS
Forgiveness is something that you can’t get on your own. Forgiveness is something no friend can give to you. As a minister, I can’t forgive you. I can point you to the one who will and I can lead you to the one who does, but I can’t forgive you.
A lot of us want to fix it ourselves. You can’t fix your own spiritual condition. God does.
We make this so complex and we have turned this relationship into a religion and think that you’ve got to come to church so many times and when I come, do I need to bow and cross and sprinkle holy water? We’ve made it so complex.
We do that with life, don’t we? A thousand years ago they may have had one book and it was chiseled in stone saying like, “Don’t eat too much!” It wasn’t a very big seller because it was so heavy. Actually people were mostly concerned with not starving. We have made it so complicated.
I think we do that with God. Some of you in here who are so totally confused. Basic: God created you. He loves you. You’re separated from him because of the sin in your life. You can be forgiven and reconciled. It’s as easy as that. It’s a miracle. You cannot do it on your own. It takes faith. Faith that God is who He says he is.
Who do you most identify with, the skeptics? Some of you come here as skeptics. You don’t believe it. Please at least have the intelligence to investigate Jesus Christ. We could help you out with that in any way we can.
Maybe you’re like one of the friends. I like the four friends in the story who brought the paraplegic. I don’t know about you, but they did anything they could to get their friend into the presence of Jesus.
Some of you who have grown up in the church and you’ve been coming here for a long time. Your challenge is to maybe be like one of those friends, if you really care about your friends enough to get them in the presence of Jesus. You think they wouldn’t like this? Bring them and let them make their own decision.
Or maybe you’re like the paralytic. You’re totally paralysed. You’re not growing. You’re distant from God. Even the paralytic had a little bit of faith. The paralytic laying there had to say, “Okay, take me. I’ll go.” All it takes is a little bit of faith.
Or are you just one of the crowd? You’re not a total skeptic, but you’re not ready. You’re not ready to step across from living the world’s way to God’s way. My hope is that you would meet the life-changing Jesus Christ who so many of us in here have a relationship with.
Let’s review: You identify your roadblocks, get rid of your excuses, you don’t hide your pain, and you express faith and experience the miracle of forgiveness and…
5. You live a CHANGED LIFE.
What did this guy do after he was healed? He was changed and he lived in such a way he praised God. For some of us in here that have been Christians for awhile, we represent our school better than we represent Christ. We’re proud to wear our hoody. Wonderful, but live a life that represents Christ, that people might look at you and see and notice something different about you.
What I want to say as we start this series is that there are a group of adults that have walked with Jesus for a long time that are part of our youth ministry. If we can help you in any way, I don’t want to be somebody that just teaches you and it’s like a petrol station, you come in, get filled up and then leave. If we can help you in any way let us know. We’re not here because we want teenager friends, we’re so lonely. We’re here because we care about you. We want to help you. If you’re interested in growing, if you’re interested in growing spiritually, let us know. We want to be part of that life change.