Back in June this year, as our pastor was away on holiday, I preached at my home church of Becontree Avenue Baptist Church.
Mark 2;1 – 12
1 A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. 2 They gathered in such large numbers that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them. 3 Some men came, bringing to him a paralysed man, carried by four of them. 4 Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on. 5 When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralysed man, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven.’
6 Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, 7 ‘Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?’
8 Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, ‘Why are you thinking these things? 9 Which is easier: to say to this paralysed man, “Your sins are forgiven,” or to say, “Get up, take your mat and walk”? 10 But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.’ So he said to the man, 11 ‘I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.’ 12 He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, ‘We have never seen anything like this!’
I am not a great watcher of TV.
Some people will watch any and everything going, no matter how suitable or otherwise the content. I’ve known of people who love their sports channel so much they will even watch competitive chainsawing!
Lets be honest many programmes subtly or brazenly push an immoral and definitely anti-Christian agenda, trying to persuade the viewer that what they portray is normal life and perfectly acceptable.
However one of the few programmes I enjoy watching is “The Repair Shop”.
For those who are not familiar with the programme, people bring to the Repair Shop all sorts of battered, worn out, damaged, broken and mistreated items in the hope that the team of experts will somehow work their magic and restore the items to how they should be.
Some of the items are in so terrible a state you wonder if anything can be done at all. They look like a lost case.
In the Repair Shop you have toy repairers, leather workers, metal workers, wood workers, upholsterers, electronic engineers etc all involved in the dis assembling, cleaning, remaking, restoring, repairing and reassembling.
Often the results are astonishing.
A great deal of love and care are lavished on the items under repair, and of course the owners are so delighted with the results.
So, you may be asking what does a TV programme have to do with God?
Well, firstly lets get one thing straight. God loves everyone without exception. Even those who crucified Jesus. Even those who commit the most awful of crimes: murderers, rapists, child abusers, drug dealers, swindlers. He loves them all and longs for everyone to turn back to him through faith in Jesus.
God doesn’t turn a blind eye to their sinful actions. He doesn’t approve of the way people behave and live their lives. Oh no!
For each and everyone one of us there will be a day of reckoning.
Let’s put it this way. There will be a day when you and I reach the checkout in life’s supermarket and everything in our trolleys, our sins or misdeeds will be put through the till and we are presented with the bill. How are we going to pay? There is no celestial Tesco Clubcard to lower the bill. And nothing we have will pay for our sins.
If we have not come to faith in Jesus who has taken care of our bill, we have the certainty of judgement in front of God’s throne. The Bible tells us in Hebrews 4:13 “ Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”
Also in Revelation 20:11 – 15 “11 Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. The earth and the heavens fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. 13 The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what they had done. 14 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. 15 Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.”
Everyone’s deeds have been recorded and they are judged on what they have done. However we also read of the Book of Life where the names of believers in Jesus are written. If your name is in that book then you are saved and will be in heaven where you will be with God and with Jesus forever.
As I said God loves everybody and longs for everyone to repent and accept Jesus as their saviour.
To have that relationship with God restored to what God originally designed it to be, before the fall when sin came into the world, is the greatest healing of all. To know that we shall be with God for ever in Heaven when our days on this earth are over is the most wonderful gift we can ever aspire to.
Yet many of us have problems whilst we are on earth. Life is not as God designed it, because of sin. We all have problems and illnesses. Sin affects us physically, mentally and spiritually.
Many illnesses are as a result of our lifestyle choices, particularly in the “West”. People smoke, eat the wrong foods, drink too much alcohol. They don’t look after themselves or others.
A few years back at the funeral of a woman in her early 70’s, who had died of a smoking related lung disease and diabetes, her partner on leaving the chapel raged at God shaking his fist and threatening God because the woman had died. The fact that he was the one who kept her supplied with cigarettes and fed her McDonalds and KFC had nothing to do with her death in his eyes.
Many people wreck their bodies and their minds with alcohol or drugs. In the USA there are many people hopelessly addicted to pain medication pushed on to them by the pharmaceutical companies.
Dawn was only 59 when she died. Her final 13 years were spent in a nursing home. She had taken to drink. In fact she drank in a day more than twice the weekly recommended quantity of alcohol. She brought upon herself alcohol induced dementia.
Mental illness in another major problem which is not really understood and often there is little sympathy for the sufferer.
During the Covid pandemic many people’s mental health suffered, partly because of the isolation but also because of the fear of catching covid.
Sometimes mental illness is caused by demonic activity. I am careful how I say this as a few years ago a lady with mental health issues went absolutely ballistic when I said this. Perhaps I had hit a nerve.
The Bible warns us to have nothing to do with the occult, things like Ouija boards, tarot cards, fortune telling, witchcraft etc because God doesn’t want us to be hurt.
I do recall taking the funeral of a man in his 30’s who had lived rough for many years and suffered from mental issues as well as alcohol and drug abuse. Speaking to his family who were not Christians, I learnt that he was about 15 when he played with a Ouija board. What happened in that session is not known except the poor lad spent the next few months cowering with fright in his bedroom. And that was the beginning of his problems. His parents didn’t realise the terrible harm that can come from playing with the occult.
A lot of spiritual problems are down to demonic activity. Just look at the parable of the Sower and the seed. Jesus says that the devil doesn’t want people to hear the word of God and be saved. The evil one is happy if people’s minds are full of religious nonsense that keeps them from receiving the gospel and being saved.
We have to be careful with giving the devil too much credit for the problems we encounter. I once heard of a church minister who tried to exorcise an evil spirit from the church’s projector as it failed to work!
So we come to our Bible reading from Mark’s gospel.
We don’t know what the man had done that he was now bedbound. Whilst it may be interesting to find out, it really is none of our business. After all, we would not like anyone else finding out our deepest and darkest secrets, the things we are most ashamed and guilty about.
Irrespective of what the man has done to get him in this condition, his friends not only stick with him but activity seek his healing. They go to great lengths to deliver their friend to Jesus, so convinced are they that Jesus is the answer to his problems. They are not put off trying by the huge crowd both in and around the building.
I see from Facebook people who post about their problems and illnesses . And some of the “friends” comments “sending healing thoughts” or sending you “positive vibes”. What good does that do apart from assure the person that their friends have thought about them? Why not assure the person that you will pray for them and then get on your knees?
Jesus looks at the man and knows that sin is the issue. He has a need to be forgiven, then what ever has paralysed his body will lose its power over him.
The religious leaders who seem to know more about religion than about God are outraged and accuse Jesus of blasphemy.
Jesus proves that he is the Son of God by telling the forgiven man to get up and walk.
The man is cured. He is restored. And people are astonished to see him get up and walk. This is what we read in v12 “ He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, ‘We have never seen anything like this!‘”
Jesus is still in the business of forgiving people’s sins, reconciling them to God, our Heavenly Father, and healing the physical, mental and spiritual wounds that each and everyone of us carry.
For those of us who know Jesus as our Lord and saviour, we have the job of bringing people to Jesus, just as the owners of the objects in the Repair Shop have brought them to the shop for repair.
Like the friends of the paralysed man we have to be faithful to those who need to come to Jesus and we have to do our utmost to bring that reconciliation about.