What Matters to Jesus
Every person can have a better understanding of who Jesus is by looking at the activities Jesus is involved in.
Clovis Chappell, a minister from a century back, used to tell the story of two paddleboats. They left Memphis about the same time, traveling down the Mississippi River to New Orleans. As they traveled side by side, sailors from one vessel made a few remarks about the snail's pace of the other.
Words were exchanged. Challenges were made. And the race began. Competition became vicious as the two boats roared through the Deep South.
One boat began falling behind. Not enough fuel. There had been plenty of coal for the trip, but not enough for a race. As the boat dropped back, an enterprising young sailor took some of the ship's cargo and tossed it into the ovens. When the sailors saw that the supplies burned as well as the coal, they fueled their boat with the material they had been assigned to transport. They ended up winning the race, but burned their cargo.
It is easy for us to assign priorities to Jesus that are not really his priories at all. I would like to look at the activities Jesus was involved in and make sure that we understand what is really important to Jesus.
Activity I. He preached
A. Jesus preached and what he preached was the word. The Greek word for “word” is logos. It is pretty commonly used in our society today in much of what we do and say. We use the word Theology. The last part of that word is ology, which is from the Greek word logos. It literally means one’s logical thinking about God. Biology is one’s logical thinking about living things. Usually when a word ends with ology it is ones logical thinking about something. The same is true in this passage as Jesus preaches the word. He is giving some logical thinking about the message he has come to deliver. Jesus came to deliver a message of good news about himself.
B. I think that many people have convinced themselves that Jesus came to heal people. While we see Jesus healing people that is not his primary purpose in coming to the earth. Some people believe that Jesus came for the purpose of alleviating all suffering. This was another thing that Jesus did, but it is not his primary function. He did not come just for the purpose of taking away suffering. He did a lot of things when he came into the world, but these were not necessarily the same as the reason for his coming.
C. Jesus was not performing miracles. He was not healing people either. He was preaching the word to them. Yet in the midst of this people are bringing the sick to Jesus. It is easy for us to lose sight of what Jesus is really about. We would like him to be about healing, prospering, and providing. This is certainly things that Jesus brings, but they can cause us to lose sight of what Jesus is really about. Jesus came to seek the sinners. He came to offer a way of salvation. He came for forgive people for their sins and show them the way to God. In his own words Jesus said he came to seek and to save that which was lost. If that is what Jesus came for, and that is what he is about shouldn’t we do the same? Our primary focus and mission should be to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ. We should be telling people that there is a way for them to be forgiven of their sins and to have a right relationship with God. Jesus’ ministry always comes back to this message.
Activity II. He perceived
A. When I use the word perception that can be seeing things that are not there, but it can also be see things that other people are unable to see. Last Saturday was Valentine’s Day. Suppose your wife came to you in the middle of that week and asked if you had anything planned for Saturday. You might answer yes I do. In your mind that means you are going to watch a basketball game with some friends. To her this means you have something romantic planned for Valentine’s Day. Obviously there is going to be trouble when Saturday arrives and the two of you have very different ideas of what is going to happen that day. When Jesus perceived something it was an accurate perception, rather than a missed line of communication.
B. There are two things that Jesus perceives in this passage. One is the faith of the man’s friends. In v. 5 it says that he saw their faith. He sees something that maybe others did not see. He knew that they were convinced that their friend would be healed if he could only get to Jesus. So they go to some pretty extreme lengths to get their friend in front of Jesus. In v. 8 Jesus is being condemned by the religious leaders who are gathered there. Rather than telling the man that he was healed, he told him his sins were forgiven. This created a problem for the religious leaders since God was the only one who could forgive sin. Since they had been watching Jesus they reasoned that he could not be God. Jesus knew what the religious leaders were thinking. He knew that this man was a sinner and he was in need of forgiveness. Jesus could see very clearly what was going on.
C. I might think that I am perceiving something and it ends up being one hundred percent wrong. Other times I might be right on the mark. Some people in our world might have a highly honed sense of perception. They might be able to see and understand things much better than other people are able to. No one has the ability to see things the way Jesus does. Jesus was able to perceive what the religious leaders were thinking without an apparent hint from them. He just knew. He was able to address their thoughts since he knew what they were thinking.
Activity III. He healed
A. I think it is safe for us to assume that Jesus does something that no one else has been able to do. He is able to heal this man. I would guess that these men had tried to get healing for their friend. I say that because of the lengths to which they go in order to get him in front of Jesus. This could have very well been a last resort for them. No doubt there were people around who were able to do things for people, but no one had the success rate that Jesus had. So the people gathered when they realize that Jesus has returned. It says in v. 1, “The people heard that Jesus had come home.” This simple bit of information causes Jesus to gather a crowd. Jesus is able to heal this man who is paralyzed.
B. I would again point out that Jesus was not healing people when this incident took place. He was preaching. In the midst of this preaching some men try to get their friend to Jesus so he can heal him. Since they are not able to get the man to Jesus by any of the traditional methods, they go up on the roof. They make a hole in the roof and they lower the man through the hole. He is lowered right in front of Jesus. This all happened while Jesus is preaching.
C. Just consider if Jesus were a doctor and this man was his patient. There would be tests that would need to be done. He might consult with other doctors on the treatment that would have to be given. All of these things would come together and he would diagnose the problem. Then hopefully he would prescribe something to bring about a cure. He might prescribe medicine. He might order some kind of therapy. He might say this man needs surgery in order for the problem to be cured. When all of this comes together it might take months or even years for him to get to this point. When this man is brought to Jesus, it does not take months or years for the man to experience healing. It appears from our perspective that this all happens in minutes. People might claim that Jesus only did what a doctor would do, but Jesus was able to do it in a much shorter time. The healing of this man seems to be tied to the faith of the men who brought him. This is a key in understanding what Jesus was about. Faith in Jesus is the only way for us to experience forgiveness and a relationship with God.
Activity IV. He forgave
A. I was sitting in a restaurant one day after ordering. I was waiting for my food to be delivered. When the food came I looked at it and it did not look anything like what I had ordered. I think I was about to mention the mix up to my waitress when another waitress came to our table with the item I had ordered. She told me and the other waitress that the orders had been mixed up in the kitchen. It ended up that the problem was fixed quickly and efficiently. Maybe you have been in a situation where you requested one thing and instead got something completely different. This could have been how the people here felt about Jesus and this paralytic.
B. When you see four men carrying a man on a mat to Jesus you assume that what they want is for their friend to be healed. I think that is what everyone was assuming. The statement in v. 5 makes me think that Jesus saw something very different. He says to the man, “Son your sins are forgiven.” Everyone assumes this man wants to be healed. Instead Jesus says his sins are forgiven. Verse 7 leads me to believe that this was not what the religious leaders were thinking either. “"Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?"” (Mr 2:7 NIVUS) it seems like it was okay for Jesus to heal people, but they did not want him forgiving people of their sins. That was something that only God was allowed to do.
C. Maybe Jesus saw something that the friends did not see. Jesus knew this man needed to be forgiven of his sins. It would appear that the man was repentant since Jesus dealt with the man in this way. The real need this man had in his life was not the ability to walk, but to be forgiven of some sin. Jesus saw that need and he dealt with it, because he was able.
D. Are you willing to allow Jesus to gaze into your soul? Are you willing to let him have a look at who you really are? Probably most people have something they want to keep hidden from God. So we really don’t feel comfortable allowing Jesus to peer into our soul, for fear he might see something that would embarrass us. Why not allow Jesus to have a look and be willing to make the necessary changes. He is ready to forgive if we will only ask him.
Jesus was certainly interested in preaching the word. This was important to him, even more important than gathering a crowd or healing everyone who came to him. In his message I would guess that repentance was stressed. This is the importance of turning from sin and false ideas about God and turning toward Jesus. It was getting on the right path.
If these things were important for Jesus, they should be important for us as well. We need to make sure that people are hearing the message of salvation, and given the opportunity to turn to Jesus.