These are my notes from a sermon series I did through the gospel of Mark. It has not been proofed for spelling or grammatical errors. I present it to you as-is.
What does it take for you to quit on God? How much or how little pressure does the devil need to use on you for you start doubting and giving up on God? Does your faith wilt when any obstacle comes your way?
Today you are going to see faith in action. God is going to show you some characteristics of what faith looks like. So let’s just dive right into this.
When Jesus returned to Capernaum several days later, the news spread quickly that he was back home. 2 Soon the house where he was staying was so packed with visitors that there was no more room, even outside the door. While he was preaching God’s word to them, 3 four men arrived carrying a paralyzed man on a mat. 4 They couldn’t bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, so they dug a hole through the roof above his head. Then they lowered the man on his mat, right down in front of Jesus. 5 Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man, “My child, your sins are forgiven.” 6 But some of the teachers of religious law who were sitting there thought to themselves, 7 “What is he saying? This is blasphemy! Only God can forgive sins!” 8 Jesus knew immediately what they were thinking, so he asked them, “Why do you question this in your hearts? 9 Is it easier to say to the paralyzed man ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or ‘Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk’? 10 So I will prove to you that the Son of Man has the authority on earth to forgive sins.” Then Jesus turned to the paralyzed man and said, 11 “Stand up, pick up your mat, and go home!” 12 And the man jumped up, grabbed his mat, and walked out through the stunned onlookers. They were all amazed and praised God, exclaiming, “We’ve never seen anything like this before!” (NLT)
Mark tells us that Jesus was able to see their faith (v.5). After “seeing their faith” Jesus responded by healing the man and forgiving the man of his sins. We are going to spend a couple of sermons on this. Today I want us to focus on the four men and the paralyzed man and the faith that Jesus could see. Before we unpack this I want to give you two thoughts.
- First, the way Jesus saw their faith was in their actions. James 2:17 says, “Faith, if it does not have works, is dead” (CSB). Real faith in Jesus will always produce some kind of works, some type of action that honors Him and others. Through the acts of these men we see faith at work.
- Another thought comes from Hebrews 11:6 (this is not on your outline so you will need to write this down). Hebrews 11:6 says, “It is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him” (NLT). These men who brought their friend to Jesus are examples of what faith is and what faith does. We also see that Jesus responds to their faith.
From these men and their act of faith in Jesus we see six characteristics of their faith that you I should have as part of our faith in Jesus. When Jesus saw their faith, what kind of faith did Jesus see and what kind of faith should Jesus see in you?
We are to have a compassionate faith
Number one, we are to have a compassionate faith. The word compassion is not used here, but it is seen. At some point these men had a conversation. They heard about Jesus being in town. They had heard about what Jesus could do. Perhaps, one of these men and maybe all four had been healed by Jesus in the previous days or weeks leading up to this. By this time, Jesus had already healed hundreds of people. But somewhere in the town these men began to care about this paralyzed man. They started having sympathy, empathy, and eventually it moved to compassion. Whenever true compassion is born, action will follow.
- Let me pause here for just a moment. This paralyzed man was already a rich man. He may not have had a lot of money or lived in the big house, but he did have four people in his life who loved him enough to care for him and to do what they are about to do. He had something that money cannot buy. He had the love and compassion of these men in his life. God was about to do an incredible work in this man’s life because his friends loved him. God loves to work in the atmosphere of love and compassion.
During the time of Jesus the sick, injured, or the elderly were often left to fend for themselves unless they had family or friends to take care of them. Their acts of care are acts of compassion. To help someone who is unable to help themselves is compassion.
Colossians 3:12 says, “Therefore, as God’s chosen ones, holy and dearly loved, put on compassion…” (CSB). Compassion is a choice. You choose to love and you choose to care. Like putting on a shirt, you put on compassion. You roll up your sleeves and help. You sit down and listen. You pick them up. You help them out. You cook for them. You clean up after them. Anyone who lovingly has taken care of a sick child understands compassion. Those who have had to care for an elderly parent knows what compassion looks like.
But when you take compassion and faith and put them together then you have a powerful force that is ready and willingly to do anything for the glory of God. When Jesus saw the compassion and love of these men, Jesus was “seeing their faith” in action.
We are to have a persistent faith
Number two, we are to have a persistent faith. Somewhere out in the town four men were having a conversation about Jesus.
- One of them had an idea, why don’t we go get Johnny and take him to Jesus and see if Jesus will heal him.
- So these four men go to Johnny and tell him their plan. Johnny likes it and agrees to it. (But this could have been Johnny’s idea. He could have told one of these men and he could have gone to get the others and they agreed this was worth a shot).
- They get a mat, put Johnny on it, and they carry him through town to where they heard Jesus was staying.
- They get there and there is a crowd packed inside the house and there is a crowd pack around the house listening to Jesus through the door and windows.
- Luke tells us that “they tried to take him inside to Jesus” (Luke 5:18, NLT). They probably tapped some people on the shoulder, “Excuse us we are trying to get this man to Jesus.” But the crowd would not budge. As Jesus was teaching, they may have told them to be quite or told him they could see Jesus later after He was done teaching. For whatever reason the crowd would not let the men through.
- This was not going to stop them. You know why? Because they had a persistent faith. They were convinced Jesus could do something and they were going to get this man to Jesus one way or another.
- One of them noticed some stairs going up the side of the house (which was common). One of them probably said, “Let’s go up those stairs and on to the roof and let’s dig a hole through roof and let him down to Jesus.” They all looked at each other and said, “That’s a good idea!” They took the man up the outside stairs.
- When they got on top of the flat roof they knew they were going to have to dig through about 2 feet of wood, dirt, grass, and sticks. You know why they didn’t change their mind or quit? Because they had a persistent faith.
- They started digging a hole through the roof. I don’t know what they started digging with. There could have been something on the roof they could have used and if not they started tearing up roof with their hands. Debris started falling inside the house, it interrupted whatever Jesus was saying, the pompous religious leaders who were there to trap Jesus were dusting off the dirt off their nice clothes. But these men kept digging and until they had a whole in the roof big enough to lower this man down to Jesus.
- So they lowered the man through the roof and onto the floor in front of Jesus. You know what got that man to that place at that moment? Persistent faith.
Now listen carefully, Jesus said in Matthew 11:12 that “from the time John the Baptist began preaching until now, the Kingdom of Heaven has been forcefully advancing…” (NLT). That does not mean you are going to force Jesus on others or you are going to be mean and arrogant with the gospel. What it means is you are going to find that when you get involved in bringing people to Jesus you are going to be swimming upstream, walking into the wind, climbing up hill, and the forces of darkness are going to try to put as many obstacles and road blocks in your way. You will have to be persistent, determined, and forcefully advance the gospel through the sin, the darkness, the rebellion, and the selfishness of this world.
- I don’t know enough about the Bible to tell people about Jesus, then let’s get to learning. Let’s move the gospel forward.
- I can’t go on that mission trip I don’t have enough money, let’s go raise some money or work for some money. Let’s cut back on expenses. Let’s move the gospel forward.
- I don’t how I can help others and minister to others. Let’s find out. Let’s take a hard look at what spiritual gifts God has given you and the experiences you have gone though and what you are passionate about when it comes to ministry. Let’s move the gospel forward.
When Jesus saw the persistence of these men, He was “seeing their faith” in action.
We are to have a creative faith
Number three, we are to have a creative faith. A faith that truly believes that Christ is the only way will be inventive! Faith will find a way.
Let’s look at this again in verse 4. Mark tells us, “They couldn’t bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, so” they quit… so they gave up and went home… so they just decided to pray about it… so they sat outside waiting and hoping they would get to see Jesus… no, no, no! Mark tells us they got creative! Inventive! Resourceful! Innovative!
Mark says, “They couldn’t bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, so they dug a hole through the roof above his head.” We are not told whose idea it was, but faith understands that there is more than one way to tie a shoe. If we can’t get to Jesus through the front door, then we are going to go through the roof.
Sometimes you will have to do something a little creative and a little drastic to get people to Jesus. Sometimes doing ministry as normal doesn’t reach people. Faith will drive you out of the box of comfort.
But let me be clear. This is not being creative for creative sake. If these four men had arrived at the house where Jesus was at and could have walked through the front door, then they would have walked through the front door. They had to be creative because the normal way of getting this man to Jesus wasn’t going too happened.
When Jesus saw the creativity of their faith, Jesus was “seeing their faith” in action.
We are to have a courageous faith
Number four, we are to have a courageous faith. We must have a courageous faith if we plan on reaching people for Christ. Mark tells us in verse 4 these men “dug a hole through the roof.” They dug a hole big enough to lower a man through. They did not ask for permission, they just started digging.
I can imagine that the four men on the roof thought about the owner being mad and maybe someone getting upset with them for digging through the roof… but they did it anyway. Whenever God lays someone on your heart to share Christ with them whether it’s a family member, a friend, a neighbor or a perfect stranger around the world it will always take courage.
One more thing. These men knew the difference between the value of a roof and the value of a person. They understood that fixing a roof is a lot easier than fixing a person. The men could repair the roof, but only Jesus could repair the man. You do your part and Jesus will do His.
When Jesus saw the courage of their faith, Jesus was “seeing their faith” in action.
We are to have a sacrificial faith
Number five, we are to have a sacrificial faith. Somebody would have to pay for the roof or fix it, and that would take time, labor, and expense. A faith that brings Christ’s power to the world is always willing to pay the price. I’m assuming these men who tore the roof up were willing to pay for the damages and have them repaired. To them the value of the paralyzed man was much more than the value of the roof.
Faith in Jesus leads to sacrifice. As a person of faith you are willing to pay the financial sacrifice to spread the gospel, you are willing to sacrifice time to advance the gospel, and you are willing to give up this and that for the sake of God’s kingdom and to see people come to Jesus.
When Jesus saw the sacrifices their faith was willing to make, Jesus was “seeing their faith” in action.
We are to have a unified faith
Number six, we are to have a unified faith. Look closely at verse 5. Mark tells us Jesus saw “their faith.” Jesus didn’t say He saw the man’s faith, but the men’s faith. When Jesus saw “their faith” He saw the faith of all five men. They all had faith and specifically Jesus said to the paralyzed man, “My child, your sins are forgiven.” You don’t become a son of God and have your sins forgiven based on someone’s else’s faith. They all had faith.
We are not told about the level of faith they had, but we are told Jesus could see “their faith.” The Bible talks about some people have great faith (Matt. 8:8-10; 15:21-28), others who had little faith (Matt. 6:30; 8:26), while others who had weak faith (Rom. 14:1-3). Regardless of what level of faith they may have had, it was enough.
They combined their faith, rolled up their sleeves, one on one corner, another on another corner, another on another corner, and another on another corner. In faith they picked him up, in faith they carried him through town, in faith they tried to get through the crowd, in faith they went up the stairs, in faith they dug a hole through the roof, and in faith they lowered the man to Jesus. As they unified their faith they were positioning themselves to see a miracle.
We all start out spiritually paralyzed. Before I came to Christ I could not walk spiritually. I was lost. Sin still had me paralyzed from the head down.
- But I had a grandmother who prayed for me as she picked up one corner of my mat.
- I had a grandfather who loved me and would come by to visit and talked about what the preacher said at church that Sunday and invite us to church. A little Jeff Stott would be playing on the floor with his toys listening to that conversation. My grandfather picked up one corner of my mat.
- My mother got saved and quit going to bars and doing things she shouldn’t have been doing, she started reading the Bible and taking me to church and I saw the transformation in my mom. My mom picked up the third corner of my mat.
- Then there was this old preacher named Gordie Givens who would come by to visit from time to time. When momma got saved we started attending his church and he would explain the gospel in a simple way. Gordie Givens picked up the fourth corner of my mat.
They picked this spiritually paralyzed sinner up and they carried me through the town of bad memories, passed the crowd of criticism, up the stairs of hope, and they lowered me through the roof of truth and they were able to lay me at the feet of Jesus so Jesus could say to me, “My child, your sins are forgiven.” God used their unified faith to bring me to Jesus and God used my individual faith to save me.
So let me ask you some questions as we wrap this up:
- Can your faith be seen? Is it a real faith? Does it produce action? Compassion? Courage? Sacrifice? Is it persistent?
- Are you joining your faith with others? Are you a part of a team that is moving the gospel forward?
- A compassionate faith is convinced that Jesus can and will help the person you care about, so you take them to Jesus.
- A persistent faith does not give up because of obstacles and detours.
- A creative faith is innovative, resourceful, and inventive. Its comfortable thinking and acting outside the box.
- A courageous faith is brave enough to do what others would not.
- A sacrificial faith is willing to pay the price for God’s glory.
- A unified faith is the combination of several believers joining their faith together to accomplish a mission.