Mark 2:1-12 The Power Of The Group

Authored By Rev. Chen Tientsu, Taiwan Presbyterian Church, Taiwan

1. I'm sure you've all experienced drama acted out in books or stage. There are different actors in a drama. One person is the leading actor and the others are the supporting actors. A drama is not just a one person thing. In order to tell a story right with drama, you need a lot of supporting actors. The issue is not whether a role is major or minor.  They're all important to the story.  You might say our lives are kind of like a drama.  We might not want the role we have in life, and we might even be jealous of the role someone else has.  We have a saying in Taiwan which goes like this, "When you compare a man to a man, you make him mad for life."

2.  A Christian shouldn't be thinking about the size of the gift he or she has received from God, but needs to think how each one has different gifts.  When a person fulfills the use of his or her gifts responsibly, God will recognize that.  Just like in the parable in Matthew 25:14-30, as the servant who had received the five thousand talents and the servant who had received the two thousand talents had both fulfilled their respective responsibilities, their master had praised them the same way with "You are a good and faithful servant.  You did well."  It is important in our lives that we attempt to responsibly fulfill the role we are given, even if we had never chosen it, as God and society will recognize it.

3.  As Christians I would suppose that we should have a greater sense of duty than the average person.  A Christian has a double role.  He or she is in a position as a member of society and in a position as a member of the kingdom of God.  Christ expects us Christians to carry both responsibilities.  And both of these positions have a connection to each other.  Unless we truly love God, we can't truly love people.  Put in reverse, if we've never loved people, we don't know how to love God.  In First John 4:20 it is clearly written, "While claiming, 'I love God,' if one hates his brother, he is a liar.  He, who does not love his brother visible to him, cannot love God invisible to him.  The person who loves God should love his brother as well.  This is the commandment we have received from God."  Faith in God understands the truth, believes that truth, and furthermore should put that truth into practice.  If one is unable to practice God's truth, then he or she cannot claim they are Christians carrying the responsibility to cooperate in God's plan to try to save the whole world.

4.  The main character in today's passage is a paraplegic who must receive assistance from other people.  He can't live like everyone else.  Typically, as one matures one must have more independence in one's daily life, but for the physically disabled that may be impossible, and so some people may give up or feel humiliated.  I'd say the healthy should assist these people under these terrible conditions.

5. This poor paraplegic's situation had unending sorrows.  His life had so many difficulties, we couldn't imagine them all, but it is part of being human that one has a will to live.  He heard that Jesus did miracles of deliverance, but he could never get to Jesus to see him face to face, but the good thing was that he had four men to give him help.

6.  This action, where four men got together in their strength and helped this unfortunate man, was the act of a group.  We need to be perfect by joining together in our hearts through our combined strength.  If these four men had not become one in mind and cast off their different thoughts and self centered thinking, it would have been impossible for them to achieve their goal.  They had resolved to assist their friend, but then they were hindered by the crowds and couldn't carry him directly in front of Jesus.  Problems like that come up in our lives, too.  Our ideals and visions get blocked by the different problems that reality brings. The same thing happens especially when we are about to serve God.

7.  The text says, "Since they were hindered by the crowd, they could not bring him to Jesus."  Their purpose was hindered by the crowd, but the will of these four did not die out.  The stronger their will became the greater their main strength became to achieve their life purpose.  Isn't this kind of faith necessary even when Christians serve in the church?  In carrying out the activities of evangelism, when we encounter various problems, right off we apply human reason, have negative thoughts, and end up quitting the activity.  We had better quit since problems have come up, don't you think?  People don't really need the gospel of the kingdom of God, do they?  There isn't just one and only one way to do evangelism.  There are a number of adequate methods to use to achieve the goals of evangelism.  Since the kingdom of God is so rich, we decide not to limit God's riches by our narrow minded perspectives.  These four thwarted men made the decision at last to "break the roof."  Their behavior might seem a bit lawless and absurd, but in order to achieve their important goal this type of resolve was necessary.  The gospel can cause confrontation and revolution when it meets up with our daily lives and cultures.  At those times when it does, we need to have faith and a courageous resolve.

8.  What all of us Christians need to wake up to is the fact that various obstacles will always emerge between us and God.  When we receive a blessing, facing a trial will also come with it.  So, it is important that we fight our battles by faith and keep reforming our ways before the Lord through repentance.

9.  Since so many problems are arising in society today, revolutionary voices are crying out louder and louder.  There's no doubt in our minds on this one that the social system is far from perfect.  But, is the church as an institution established in the name of God flawless and perfect?  In church history we find recorded undeniable facts of its depravity.  Jesus scolded aloud the merchants in the defiled temple and knocked over their stands of merchandise.  Has the church now gotten much better since the old days?  Is it good enough if a person who believes in Jesus repents of the sin he did only before his baptism?  When a person becomes a Christian, do they never sin in his or her day to day living?  If you think they don't sin, then is there any sense in reading responsively each week the Psalm of repentance for sin?

10.  When we try to fulfill the evangelistic mission, there are spiritual obstacles.  These obstacles gradually increase like weeds if not removed.  So, in order for us not to stumble in our faith life, when we face different obstacles, we cannot achieve our Christian mission unless we pull on through courageously.

11.  The four who carried the paraplegic, while hindered by the crowd, had decided to tear off the roof in the house where Jesus was and to open up a hole and then let the sick bed of the paraplegic hang down from it.  I suppose such a lawless act would not be permitted in modern times, but they have shown us how important it was for them to do their act of faith and with so much passion.  I suppose this kind of get out and do it behavior is missing in today's church.

12.  Wasn't the purpose for which the church was founded to bring people to Jesus?  In the real world we live in problems of every sort crop up, they get in the way of our relationship with God and it is hard to keep things right between us.  That's how it is.  God clearly wants to see everyone in the world saved, but we Christians, as the church, feel like just going on our own way doing our own thing.

13.  Jesus saw deep into these four men's hearts, he recognized their faith and the paraplegic man's faith and healed this unfortunate cripple.  The power of the four made it possible for the paralyzed man to come to the presence of Jesus.  And so the Bible shows us that the will and the work, the soul and the sweat of these four men brought this wonderful result of a sick man healed by Jesus.  Then, the Bible tells of the forgiveness of sin given by Jesus and the power of the healing of the disease.

14.  The work of the church does not advance by one person alone, but a group effort is necessary for it to happen.  God in Ephesians chapter four tells us what he wants for us in the church.  "But, in accordance with the proportion of Christ's gifts, his blessings have been given," (verse seven), "and he has made some as apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors, and some teachers.  Thus, the saints are qualified to the work of ministry and build up the body of Christ, and finally, we all become one in the faith and knowledge of the son of God, and become mature people, and grow till we become his abundance which overflows in Christ," (verses eleven through thirteen).

15.  If there are apostles, there are also prophets and evangelists, pastors and teachers.  To build up the body of Christ, the saints are suited for the work of ministry.  The great ministry team in the church along with the pastor is each and every church member and office holder.

16.  Moses lifted his hands and prayed at the battle between the Israelites and the Amalekites.  As long as he lifted up his hands, Israel took the lead, but if he lowered his hands the Amalekites would take the lead.  As the hands of Moses grew heavy, Aaron and Hur stood at Moses' sides and supported his hands, so at last they won the battle," (Exodus 17:10-13).  The church is the vibrant organic flock of God, a physically actively alive group for God.  It's supposed to grow and it's supposed to thrive.  The church is a community of God's family.  The main principle we are supposed to be about is to serve God as a group.  We are supposed to learn together until we can serve each and every member.  If we miss just one person, we're not done.

17.  There is a strong desire in the church to build God's family.  And we even hope that the children be able to minister in the church.  But if the adults don't do it, they won't have a model to follow.  I don't think we need to worry about how we should teach the children.  Watching and listening is enough.  Works for kids to do is becoming a topic of discussion in the church.  One scholar said as a result of his research, "It is the adult's responsibility."  Nobody wants to teach a child to do bad, but children every day imitate the bad habits of adults.  If ministry in the church is defined with a narrow sense, the ministry of worship as set in the sanctuary is time for us to do the duty of cleaning [our hearts].  If said in a broad sense, it would include applying the truth in our daily lives, witnessing the faith to others, sharing, and doing missions.

18.  The church today needs to build up a real live community so filled to overflowing with the love of God.  However, if we don't serve the Lord boldly with sacrificial love, a mind united in cooperation, and faithful courage, won't we be bringing grief to the Lord's heart instead?

19.  Faith takes up the challenge and takes up risks.  When the four men tried to help their friend the paralyzed man, they were hindered by the crowd.  However, the four men tore off the roof and opened a hole.  This was a risky act.  Since God has given the church the work of brining people to his salvation, even if different problems arise, we should take up the challenge by our faith.  Shouldn't we?

20.  In forming the family of God, all the officers and members of the church are the pastor's powerful assistants.  We want both the adults and the children and everyone after them to become a very very lively and active family of God, a community at that.  In closing, I would like to end by reading to you Ephesians 4:15 and 16.

21.

"Rather, rooted in love, speak the truth and in every situation, we will grow by looking at Christ our head.  In Christ, the whole body is joined tightly together and becomes connected by each joint being synergized together, and as it works in response to each part it makes the body grow and is built up by its love."

 
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