Chapter 12 - Borne of Four
Shortly after World War II, a submarine was making its routine run off the coast of New England. Orders were given to prepare to dive. Individuals took their positions. The sub began its dive. Suddenly it was realized by a few men, and soon after via the intercom system to all men, that one hatch did not close and water was rushing in. The vessel settled to the ocean's floor. The men realized that they were helpless. One volunteered to enter the closed compartment and investigate. He returned with no encouraging word. It was then realized that if help was to be had, it would have to come from outside.
A surface buoy was ejected and soon visible on top of the water. It just so happened that a Navy Coast Guard vessel was nearby - watching, observing this experimental run. Immediately help was dispatched to the ship. By means of a special instrument and diving gear, connection was made. The men who were at one time helpless, were now saved and made their way, one by one, to the chamber and were raised to the surface. Perhaps none reading these lines have ever had such an experience, but I am persuaded as I write these lines, that every reader at times - has felt himself helpless. There is a time, when the help must come from the out side. A time when the individual feels suppressed by the water pressure of living - trapped in a certain situation - helpless.
The help must come from God, the helper of the helpless. Several years ago there was a young lady who, as she thought, performed beautifully before a New York audience. However, the critics, the next day in the newspapers, declared it to be a flop. This so upset her that for a year she refused to sing or study She was just crushed by this experience. She was hopeless. As she told a friend, she was helpless - a victim of despair. When asked, "Have you prayed?" she replied, "No." She made it a matter of prayer. Later she told a friend, "You know, it would not have mattered if God answered my prayers or not, it was enough to pray."
When we get ourselves in these "hopeless" situations, it is time to pray (I should inject at this point that praying must not be left to the "hopeless" situations of our living, but for "all" situations.) At this point, prayer can begin where human capacity ends.
These remarks form a preface to this chapter, VORNE OF FOUR. The story of a man, who as we read in the scriptures from John, chapter 5, was in a hopeless predicament. He was helpless. He said, "I have no friends to help me and bring me to the waters, when they are troubled, for healing." The difference between the man spoken of in Mark 2 and John 5 is that the man in Mark 2 had four friends."When he entered Capernaum again, after some days, it was noticed that he was at home, and a large number at once gathered till there was no more room left for them, not even at the door. He was speaking the word to them, when a paralytic was brought to him. FOUR MEN carried him, and as the could not get near Jesus on account of the crowd, they tore up the roof under which he stood, and through the opening they lowered the pallet on which the paralytic lay. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "My son, your sins are forgiven." Now there were some scribes sitting there who argued in their hearts, "What does the man mean by talking like this? It is blasphemy Who can forgive sins, who but God alone?" Conscious at once that they were arguing to themselves in this way, Jesus asked them, "Why do you argue thus in your hearts? Which is the easier thing, to tell the paralytic, 'Your sins are for given' or to tell him, 'Arise, lift your pallet and go'. But to let you see that the son of man has power on earth to forgive sins, he said, 'Arise, I tell you, lift your pallet, and go home." And he rose, lifted his pallet at once, and went off before them all; at this they were all amazed and they glorified God saying, "We never saw the like of it."
We want to see that Jesus saw the man's sins, first of all. He first dealt, not with the physical situation of the man, but he dealt with the sin of man. He then switched, or shifted to the man's physical needs.
I. The Healer
Luke, chapter 2, Verse 1, tells us that it was reported around that Jesus was at home.
This shows his popularity. He comes to a particular house. Whose home was it? We don't know, but we may surmise that it was Peter's. Mark 1:29 tells us that "on leaving the Synagogue they went straight to the house of Simon and Andrew, accompanied by James and John." So it could well be, but this actually is of no value. The Healer. Here, the people flock to the home and crowd the living room. They come to the windows and the doors, trying to get that view of the Saviour, the unusual One who was known as the Healer.
When I was in the country of Haiti in 1962 for a preaching mission, we experienced such a "stirring of the masses." The home in which we were in one evening for dinner was one of the better homes in the city. But at that, it was crude. The room in which we ate was next to the street. By that I mean there were no walls or divisions between our table arid the street which was just a few feet away. As we were eating what had been prepared for us, I felt the sensation of being watched. Turning my head I saw a number of the natives looking at the white man. It had been reported that we were there - notices had been sent through out the village - so the people came to see. Some were coming into the room, others staying on the outside looking in.
Later, following dinner, I was to address some ten or fifteen of the outstanding men of the Church and village. While speaking, I again realized that there were more eyes on me, and turning I was amazed to see people ail around behind me. There were fifty or sixty, I was later told, who had come to the house to see and hear what was going on. Through my interpreter, they were able to hear. So, this was not unusual for Jesus to be pressed by so many people. It was the freedom of the orient, as was the freedom of Haiti. However, for us today, it is not the size of the crowd, it is the content that is related to those present, for healing.
II. The Helpless
These helpers find their acts recorded in Verse 3 of Mark 2. This man who was so ill had some form of paralysis. The man could not help himself, but he had some helpers. Even though this man had faith, he could not demonstrate it by an outward act, due to his confining condition. But, he had four friends. These were the helpers. They acted upon their inward faith. I feel you will find that theirs was the truest friendship over. What a joy it is today to have a friend. These brought their friend to Christ.
But, as is so often in the case, there was a hindrance.
This is found in Verse 4. They could not get in because of the crowd. What did they do? Did they get discouraged and go home? No, they went on top of the house. They tore aside part of the roof and they let this man down in a most unconventional way - by ropes. Unconventional way, but an effective way. I could digress a moment and say that this is a way of getting the message of the Church into the world today. One might have to resort to unconventional means and ways. It is far better to be unconventional and fruitful than conventional and fruitless. For example, in Puerto Rico in some Churches, Sunday School is held in the morning for two hours. Then, Sunday evening the Churches come to their worship service. You may say this is unconventional - true, but the results show it to be effective.
The men uncovered the roof. There are several schools of thought. One feels that they merely unrolled an awning - this was the roof. Usually roofs were made up of this type of construction. There were large beams running in one direction at regular intervals. Atop these and running the opposite direction were smaller ones. These too, were covered with still smaller ones. These, too, were covered with still others. On many occasions this was topped by soil, making a smooth finish and one that would protect from the elements. On top some had placed tile, One reason I favor the latter interpretation is that usually homes, built in a circle with a court in the center and so covered by an awning were owned by weal thy individuals. If this were the home of Peter, since we know he was so wealthy, it is — more probable that his roof was covered by soil.
These helpers were determined and they removed the tile, they removed the roof because they had determined to get their friend to the Christ. Hindrances are before us today in many aspects. So, with these four men, but due to their persistence, they won and a soul was saved.
IV. The Helpers
The helpers received a blessing, too. Obstacles removed from us today as Christians, make us more effective. Because there is such a tie that binds Christians together in a particular family of God, such a family feels a oneness in helping others. When one suffers, all suffer. When one is blessed, all are blessed.
The song "Others" could be ours to sing. Who knows that some needed blessing might fall to the one near you because of your care and concern. Many have attested to the fact that they have felt strength at a special time. Later, via a letter or conversation, they discovered that a friend had remembered them to the Lord at that special tire.
This man was to be healed, but a careful examination of the scripture indicates that first he was healed of his sin. This would have been enough for him to say it was the happiest day of his life, but there was more. When a christian realizes that sins are forgiven, that is a happy moment for that one.
Have you heard these words recently from God, "I forgive". "I forgive you of your sins." Many have never heard these words and they live with a burden around their being. Jesus forgives - but further he says, watch - rise up - take your pallet and walk. Says Jesus, which is harder to say, your sins are forgiven or rise up and walk. Oh, the slowness of man to believe.
We are helpless people indeed. Like the men on the forgotten ocean floor in the sunken sub marine - they were helpless and they knew in their hearts that only from outside could help come. Think about it.
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