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Text: Mark 1:40 -2:12

Proposition: The barriers that block people from finding God are overcome through an attitude of heart, for a broken and contrite heart He will not refuse.

Introduction:  As Jesus preached throughout the Galilee He spoke out the message of the Gospel, the Time, Purpose, Choice and Belief that makes up the good news that there is hope for you. I imagine it was a lot like throwing out seed on the ground, it went everywhere and sometimes it took root in the unlikeliest of places. Sometimes it was the people in the front rows of the crowd that heard and responded to the words of Jesus, sometimes it was like a few crumbs that barely reached the people on the outside edges. Often there are people that have all kinds of things that block their view of Jesus, the well dressed backs of the crowd, the social barriers that tell us we are not good enough or even the barriers of poor health and the stigmas that go with that. Sometimes the barriers to getting closer to Jesus, to being able to hear all of what He has to say and to see up close the things that He has done and is doing, sometimes the barriers that block the way are barriers we put there. You know, barriers like, “When I get my life together then I’m going to see about this Jesus…” or “ Once I’m feeling better or am not so busy, then I’ll go to see Jesus.” But a barrier is a barrier, it blocks your view, prevents your ability to get close and even muffles the details of what you hear. This morning we’re going to look at two stories of people who faced incredible barriers, impossible barriers some might say. The first is a man who could walk, talk, think, and choose, yet none of these capabilities were of any use to get past the barrier that blocked him from coming to Jesus. The other person was a man who was popular, who had a home and people that loved him yet when he heard about the things Jesus was saying he too faced a barrier that seemed impossible to overcome. And maybe that’s where you are right now, facing a barrier that seems impossible to overcome. Let’s see how God’s grace intervened for these two. Turn with me to Mark 1:40-2:12. 

I. No Matter the Stigma and Isolation, Come to Jesus. 

Leprosy is a bacterial generated disease, it kills the nerve endings and destroys the body. The people who had leprosy were to keep away from the general population and in cases where it was not advanced enough to be physically evident, they were by law required to cry out a warning to people coming their way, “Unclean, unclean!” But lepers eat, and lepers need clothes and they are like all people drawn to voices of hope and love. Somewhere in the region of the Galilee this leper saw the crowds around Jesus, he heard from a distance the things they were saying about Jesus, things like demons being cast out and sickness being healed. But greater than these things was the truth that went with this power, truth about God, truth about life after death, truth about what people really needed to do in order to find God. I think there comes a time in a person’s life when they are desperate for change and they know it’s a now or never kind of moment. That’s what occurred here as he found an opening in the crowd and pushing forward  and came and fell at the feet of Jesus. He begged Jesus, “Lord if you are willing, you can make me clean.” It’s strange the things that make us unclean, in the cases of society it can be like this a disease, sometimes it’s our actions, sometimes our attitudes. In fact when it comes to our sin nature which we are all born with, we are all an unclean people. Sin has been defined as that which comes from our inner nature that is self preserving and self justifying, it means we often know what the right thing to do is and yet we choose not to do it. That’s the sin that makes us as unclean as this leper was before Jesus. But something happened here, hope pierced through the shame and condemnation and hate and anger…  and for a few moments he saw Jesus and he believed, “If you are willing you can make me clean.” He believed completely in the capability of Jesus, it’s just that he was unsure if Jesus was willing to restore this kind of a person, to overcome this kind of a problem, to do this for me. It’s okay to believe that Jesus heals people, but will He heal me? And frankly until you come and ask you’ll never hear the words that Jesus said that day, “I am willing, be cleansed.” Instantly the power of Jesus Christ reversed the damage, reversed the missing and crushed parts and it reversed even the identity of this man.  But perhaps the most surprising part of the story is in what happened next. Jesus sternly warns the man to go to the priest in the Temple and do what was prescribed for sacrifice. The stern warning implies that Jesus had great purpose in having the man do this. It was to be a testimony to the priest who performed this and to all who were around them. Jesus had His eye on bringing the gospel to others through this man as he went in obedience to Christ. Sadly, verse 45 begins with the word, ‘However’, meaning that the man said one thing and did another.  Through his disobedience not only did the priest not hear the gospel neither did the many people in the cities where Jesus was going to go. Now Jesus kept to the deserted places until the time was ready for Him to die on the cross. Consider the second fellow for a moment.                                                                                                           

II. Whether You Carry or Are Carried, Come to Jesus.

Capernaum was a small fishing village on the north shore of Galilee, likely it was also the place where Peter had a house and where his mother in law had been healed and where demons had been cast out. So when the people heard that Jesus was back in town, they came in crowds to hear and see Him. Perhaps this paralyzed fellow had heard Jesus the first time but couldn’t get there, perhaps it was his friends who saw Jesus heal people, whatever the case, Jesus was passing by and they weren’t going to miss Him again. It’s strange how God uses events that look like failure to be showcases of greatest faith. By the time they got to Peter’s house the crowds were so thick you couldn’t get close. They quickly made their way to the roof top and in a daring move that defied the opinions of others, they dug through the roof, strapped their paralyzed friend in tight, and they lowered him down right in front of Jesus. It was an audacious move, not only did they interrupt Jesus as He was preaching they exposed their friend to great risk, laying there paralyzed in front of an unpredictable crowd, in front of Pharisees, in front of this man called Jesus who had power to do anything. How desperate are you for Jesus, are the opinions of others enough to keep you behind the crowd, will you get to the roof top but not dig through? Wonderfully, Jesus looks at them and sees what others cannot see, He sees their faith and the evidence of their faith laying right at His feet. It’s no coincidence that both the leper and the paralytic found life at the feet of Jesus, it’s the safest place in the world for a broken person to be. Then occurs this strange subplot, Jesus says, “Son, your sins are forgiven you.”  The Scribes are outraged for they see this as something that only God can say or do, and rightly so. In one moment Jesus saw faith in the men of the roof and floor, in the next moment he saw unbelief in the hearts of Scribes who only sat and watched.  I love this next question because it has a double edge to it. Jesus looks at these unbelievers and says, “Which is easier, to say to this paralytic, ‘your sins are forgiven you ’, or to say, ‘Arise, take up your bed and walk?”  It’s a double edged question because from the human point of view you can’t see sins being forgiven, but you can see paralyzed limbs restored. So from the human point of view saying your sins are forgiven is easier because who knows if it really happened. But from God’s point of view, which is easier to say, well it’s far easier for God to heal frozen limbs than to heal the sin of a frozen heart, for that requires faith of a greater degree. It requires a faith that says that Jesus is able to pay the costs of my sin, the cost of which is death. Remember Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus.”  Notice that here again Jesus not only restores but He also issues a command as He restores, “Arise, take up your bed and go to your house.” Here again it’s testimony that that is being commanded, the evident testimony of a paralytic carrying their bed, carrying it to the people who knew them best, the people of their household.

How do you find God in a fallen world?  You come because you can no longer stand not coming. There is a tremendous awareness of your need and nothing else can meet that need. You come to the feet of Jesus, the broken and contrite heart Jesus will always see and hear. You come in belief that He not only can but is also willing to heal you. You come not out of intellectual awareness but out of spiritual awareness, John 6:44 says, “"No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.”   You come first to know Jesus, and then you keep coming to Him that He would be known through you to others, in obedience you go wherever He has commanded, to bring the news life.        

 

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