What' s your biggest problem? Revd Rico TIce (The Healing of the Paralytic)

The text below is a sermon summary. The recording of the full sermon can be downloaded. See here. . To access the recording, click on Home Page + More Sermons (link bottom right) + Advanced sermon search (link bottom right) + By Bible Book + Mark + and this sermon is second from the bottom of the list - "29 September 2005".

What is your biggest problem? What is locked away in your mind, nagging away at you, like a dripping tap? Is your problem preoccupying you?. Be honest, bring it to mind right now.

Imagine if we knew the problems of other people around us. Their problems are spouses or children or choices about one child . Others’ problems are their parents and their in-laws. Some have big problems with money - or the lack of it. Then, there are the workplace relationships with a boss or with redundancy, possibly one leading to the other. The "big problem" may be an illness in a loved one or in yourself, knocking everything “off kilter”.

In Mark Chapter 2, a man comes to Jesus with a massive problem. He is a paralytic and his condition “defines” him. In the Bible, he is not called by his name but called “a paralytic”. There was no room for him outside the door. Here is this man: paralysed. We don’t know whether he is paraplegic or quadriplegic, how badly paralysed, whether he was born paralysed or not. There were no social services and no wheelchair services, so this man is reduced to begging. Begging is “rock bottom", in terms of self-esteem. This man is just as “a paralytic”. But he does have something - he has some faithful friends.

There is a Spanish proverb that says, “Friends are worth more than money”. Well, these friends cannot be shaken in their belief that that Jesus can heal their friend. So they bring him to Jesus. In fact, they get on the roof and pass him down through he roof! The reason is that Jesus keeps moving onwards in Mark, moving and healing and preaching a message. So the friends take off the ceiling of the room that Jesus is preaching in! Imagine the sounds of digging while Jesus is preaching inside and pieces falling and getting into people’s hair! Mark 2 v 4 says *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. When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic *Son, your sins are forgiven".

Do you think this paralysed man was pleased? I think he was bitterly disappointed. He was thinking about his legs, not his soul. He wanted to say “Jesus, can you do legs as well as soul?. The problem is my “pins” not my sins. The last thing I came for was a sermon…” The man was bitterly disappointed, but he had a massive problem. Being paralysed is a horrific problem (I know because I have a friend who is paralysed). But this man’s problem was bigger than that. Jesus said, "Your sins are forgiven”. Be happy. Happy?!

If you look through Mark 1, you will see Jesus is going about exorcising devils. In fact, we do believe in a supernatural world. Simon’s mother-in-law is healed at a Word, and gets up and makes lunch. Read Mark Chapter 1 for all those healings. Jesus saw these people with compassion, which means “the turning of the stomach”. As he saw the leper, He said “”Be healed”. Suddenly this leper could go home and be a father again.

So the friends put this paralysed man down through roof. But Jesus does not heal him. Instead he says, “Your sins are forgiven”. At the end of the story this man is walking around, healed. Here Jesus is full of compassion, but He delays in healing him, to makes sure the man’s sins are dealt with .

Jesus says that “sin” is the problem (sin is an awful religious word!). But “sin” is simply "putting myself first in God’s world", "running my life my own way". The Bible says that it is sin that cuts us off from a relationship from God. Jesus see a great problem in this man, which is this man's top priority.

If his sins are not forgiven, he is not right with God and cannot work out what life is about. Caring for others is what he thinks he needs to do. But if your focus is on the things of this life, you can die at any time. A highly successful, rugby-playing friend of mine died last week, aged 39 and I took his funeral service. Was he ready to meet God at judgment? That was the question as I took his funeral.

If we are not ready to met God at Judgment, that is our biggest problem. If you met that man, who had been a paralytic in Heaven, he would say “I had 50 years on earth caring for my family but then I had 2000 years in Heaven”. My friend was unexpectedly killed by medical negligence. We learn to put God off. Our diary is too full.

We have a problem and only Jesus can solve it. He has the authority to forgive sins. People said, “Who does he think he is?”. But Jesus knew what they were thinking. How disturbing! Think about Jesus Christ knowing all your thoughts.

Is it easier to say “Your sins are forgiven” or “Rise up and walk”? Yes it is, because sins being forgiven is invisible but telling someone to “rise up and walk” is visible proof (of a miracle). As proof of His authority to forgive sins, Jesus said, “Get up and walk”.

Paralysed people do not usually get up and walk. But Jesus says, “I am the one to forgive sins”. The Cross is not just about a carpenter from Nazareth being killed. As a teenager, I went to church and I knew that Jesus had died "for sins". But I did not realise that He died so that my sins can be forgiven. I never knew that that He died for me! Do you know that he has died for you? For the forgiveness of all your past sins, for your present and future sins (if you bring them to Him in repentance). I don't enjoy taking the funerals of people who do not know this....

We have hurt others and we have hurt the God, the One makes the rules. We can get into a right relationship with God - but before we can do that, we must have our sins forgiven. How we treat God and other people matters to God. We must have our sins dealt with.
Ask yourself: Have I had my sins dealt with? Give it some time…

By permission of Revd. Rico Tice, Associate Minister, All Souls Langham Place, London
(and with special thanks to Grace McDowell)

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