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Delivered By
Rev. Nathaniel Schwartz
Delivered On
January 26, 2014
Central Passage
Mark 2:1-12
Description

National Lutheran Schools Week
JANUARY 26, 2014
MARK 2:1-12

THEME:  “TAKE THEM TO JESUS!”

Today, I need you to put on your thinking caps and use your imagination.  Please imagine  - for a moment - what your life would be like if you were paralyzed.  Yes, imagine your life if you were unable to move.  How would you feel if your freedom was restricted?   How would it feel to be dependent rather than independent?  Imagine needing help every time you wanted to get a drink, go to the restroom, or go outside for some fresh air.  What would that be like?

I think most of us would agree that being paralyzed would be very difficult and even downright depressing.  We wouldn’t like losing our self-sufficiency.  We wouldn’t like having to always depend on others for even the basic things of life.

Well, hopefully this brief exercise has helped you understand the dilemma of the man in our text.  He was paralyzed.  He was completely dependent on others.  What’s more, he probably was impoverished because in those days there was no government disability to support him or Americans with Disabilities Act to insure that his special needs were accommodated for, and he had access to public places.

It would seem that this man had very little going for him.  But – wait just a minute – take a closer look at our text.  We see that this paralyzed man had at least four very good friends who cared about him.  He had friends who wanted to help by taking him to someone they believed could heal him.  That someone was Jesus Christ!

So we see these men carrying this paralyzed man on his cot to see Jesus, And when they discovered that the way to Jesus was blocked, they were not deterred.  Oh no!  They loved their friend so much and were so convinced of Jesus’ power to heal him that they hoisted their friend to the roof, removed a portion of the roof, and lowered their friend right in front of Jesus!

Clearly, these men were convinced that Jesus could help their friend. But Jesus didn't quite do what everyone expected. He didn't heal the man right away. Instead, Mark tells us that "When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, 'Son, your sins are forgiven.'"

What? This man needed to walk, and Jesus spoke about forgiving his sins?  What was going on?

My friends, Jesus knew that this man had a much greater problem than simply being paralyzed. He had a spiritual problem, a sin problem. That’s right, more than he needed to walk he needed his sins taken away.

You see, we may have aches and pains that annoy us. We may have serious physical afflictions that  threaten to destroy our body. But those are minor compared to our worst problem: our sinfulness. Sin is an inherited disease--we got it from our parents, who got it from theirs, and so on all the way back to the garden of Eden.

Sin paralyzes us when it comes to doing good.  It also makes us do crazy things, monstrous things like hating others, wanting what we can't have or shouldn't have, and telling lies about others.  Sin makes us say, "I don't need God. I don't need his Word. I'm good enough.”  Sin is worse than any disease you can imagine.  Other diseases may cause you aches and pains, but "the wages of sin is death."

And you thought your headache was bad! Your headache won't send you to hell, but your sins will. So what can you do? How can you and I escape? Well, how could the paralyzed man help himself? It's a trick question--he couldn't! Nor can you and I do anything to escape the punishment we deserve for our sins.

But the paralyzed man and his friends firmly believed that while they were helpless, Jesus – the One who had healed many others - had power to help them.

The religious leaders, however, weren’t so convinced.  In fact, they accused him of blasphemy.  So how did Jesus reveal his divine power? He revealed it by forgiving the man's sins.  Listen again to our text, as Jesus says, “Why do you question these things in your hearts?  Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven” or to say, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk’?  But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins – he said to the paralytic – I say to you rise pick up your bed, and go home.’  And he rose immediately packed up his be and went out before them all so that they were all amazed and glorified God.”

But in what other way did Jesus demonstrate his authority to forgive sins?  Well, my friends, when Jesus died on the cross, he didn't die for his own sins, he was sinless.  Rather when Jesus suffered, bled, and died he received the punishment you and I deserved for our sins. He died to pay for our sin and take away our guilt and shame.  Therefore, with John the Baptist we can point to Jesus and declare, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world."

That’s right, when Jesus died on the cross and rose again from the dead he demonstrated and proved that he did have the power to forgive our sins, and the power to give us eternal life in heaven!

Amazing!  These men in our text believed in Jesus!  They trusted in His ability and power to heal their paralyzed friend.  So they brought him to Jesus that He might help them.  And their faith in Jesus was rewarded.  Their friend was healed!  And the truth of today’s Epistle lesson was confirmed, “

So how about you and me?  Do we trust in Jesus?  Do we believe that Jesus is God?  Do we believe that in Jesus there is forgiveness, life, and salvation?  Do we believe Jesus has come to bring healing to our bodies and our souls?  And if we do, do we take our friends to Jesus?  Do we take our children to Jesus?

My wife is on Facebook.  This allows her to follow the adventures of many of our friends from church, from Prairie View Elementary School where she works, and the likes.  It’s fun to discover where many young parents take their children.  It’s fun to hear of trips to Arrowhead Stadium, Royals Stadium, Worlds of Fun, Justin Bieber Concerts, Soccer games and soccer tournaments, and hockey games.

The other day she told me about some folks who took their children to Disney World and another family who took their kids on one of those Disney Cruises.  It was then that I said to my wife.  “Wow, parent’s take their kids to some amazing places.  What I wonder is if they take them to see Jesus?”

Sometimes it seems that we’re so busy going to soccer games and baseball games and concerts and other entertainment venues that we forget about what’s most important.  After all, what’s more important than taking our children to see Jesus?   What’s more important than taking our kids to Sunday School and Worship so they can grow in their faith relationship with their Savior, Jesus Christ?

It really is a question of priorities, isn’t it? And God gets our attention today when our Epistle Reading declares, “Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.”

You know, there is only a limited amount of time for us to take our children to Jesus.

Indeed, studies show that more than 85 percent of those who come to faith in Christ do so by the age of 14.  Parents, the window is open right now, while you’re children are young.  But be aware of the reality that someday that window may shut.

As a parent, the most important place I want to take my son someday is with me to heaven!  And that’s why my wife and I took our son to the baptismal font that God might adopt Him into His family, wash away his sins, and gift him with the Holy Spirit and Spirit-given faith.  Of course, taking our children to Jesus means more that just taking them to the baptismal font.  That’s only the beginning of the spiritual journey.  The baptized child’s faith needs to be fed and nourished on God’s Holy Word as parents teach them to pray, read Bible stories to them, take them to Sunday School, and bring them to worship.

And one of the best ways to take our children to Jesus is to take them to a Lutheran School.  This is National Lutheran Schools Week, and so today we rejoice that God uses Lutheran preschools (like Abounding Love), Lutheran elementary schools, Lutheran High Schools, and Universities to help parents teach their children everything that Christ has commanded!

So then, empowered by the Holy Spirit let’s continue to strengthen and support Christian Education.  Let’s take our children to Jesus that He might bring them His love and forgiveness, healing and hope.  For whoever has the Son has life.  Amen and Amen.