I’ve just returned from the BBC Men’s Retreat and was greatly blessed to be with more than 100 men going hard after God in worship, devotions, general sessions, and small group discussions for two days. David Michael, Jack Delk, Gil McConnel and Steve Johnson did a fantastic job of creating opportunities for men to encounter our good and sovereign God. I am grateful to them all.
David Michael indicated the three general session messages from me, Yoshi and Rick will be on the internet at some point.
In the meantime, I thought I would share the scripture reference I used and my notes. There is a great deal more I’m not including as the majority of my presentation was on God’s goodness to the Knight family through much difficulty. But I also wanted the men to see some of God’s goodness to us through his word, which I’ve included here.
Mark 2:1 And when he (Jesus) returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. 2 And many were gathered together, so that there was no more room, not even at the door. And he was preaching the word to them.
Preaching the word. We should go to where the word will be preached – homes, churches, retreats. It is the word we need, not “culturally relevant,” man-centered self-improvement courses.
3 And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men.
In John 9 we are told that some people in that culture thought there was a close connection between disability and sin. And we know that they would not have quietly been able to slip their friend into the back of a minivan to take him anonymously across town to private meeting. We can speculate on a few things about these men and what they were doing:
o It would have to be very public.
o They believed something important would happen
o They were not constrained by other people’s view of their paralyzed friend
o They were willing to risk ridicule, and probably a great deal of hard work, to bring this man.
o Who were these four men? We don’t know – brothers? Neighbors? Cousins? Father and uncles? Guys he hung out with before he was paralyzed?
Doesn’t matter what the relationship was – what matters is they are acting right now.
4 And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him, and when they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay.
o Goal oriented, focused, team work, creative.
o Overcame barriers, attacked obstacles
o Probably knew there would be consequences – at minimum, repairing a roof! Maybe more.
o But they are driven by a future hope.
5 And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”
o Their faith? Their faith? This is present in all three accounts – Matthew 9, Mark 2 and Luke 5. Their faith. Men joining together in faith. Things happen.
6 Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, 7 “Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?”
o I worked at a college for almost 9 years – this is what smart people do to each other. They go to all kinds of conferences and speeches knowing they won’t agree, and they they have reasons to be disagreeable. Its really something to experience. This account rings entirely true.
8 And immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to them, “Why do you question these things in your hearts? 9 Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk’?
o This is the most important question they have ever been asked. If Jesus is only a man, then it is much easier to say “your sins are forgiven,” because there is no physical evidence anything has actually happened. And a man cannot correct a disability by a word.
o But Jesus is not just a man, he is God. The universe was created by God speaking – and everything in it. And God said – and it happened. The heavens and earth were created, storms are stilled, people are healed. For God, creating is easy.
o And as God, Jesus is untainted by sin, holy and righteous. But he knew the consequences of sin is death – the wrath of God must be satisfied. So he knew that the act of forgiveness was an act of bloody submission to a horrible death. Jesus is not preparing for an ‘easy’ thing in the Gethsemane
Mark 14:36 And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”
o So, which is easier, from God’s point of view? Clearly, the scribes had no clue who Jesus is.
10 But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the paralytic— 11 “I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.” 12 And he rose and immediately picked up his bed and went out before them all, so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!”
o But their amazement was not placed correctly. Yes, amazing things have happened. They should have been amazed that sins had been forgiven – freely, for one who didn’t have the ability to come to Jesus regardless of his faith. It was ‘their faith’ that brought him to Jesus. Healing was a nice outcome, and truly a miracle. But, eventually, he would die, and without his sins being forgiven, he would be in a much worse state than if he had been ‘healed’ of paralysis, but left to die in his sins. And healing a physical ailment would not require Jesus’ blood to be shed.
Please, be amazed at the right things! We have Jesus – a risen, sovereign savior – as our advocate AND our king.