True Friends

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What would you do to help a friend in need? There are moments in my life when I was helped by my friends and I had an opportunity to be a help to a friend in need and there are moments in my life when a friend has been there for me. There’s always helping with things like moving, talking about life over a cup of coffee, lending a few dollars to help them when they are down, or watching a child for them. Then there are the times that are significant, like standing by their side while they say goodbye to a loved one or supporting them during the low points in life.
1 Corinthians 15:33 warns us “That bad company corrupts the best of morals.” The opposite is also true…“Keep company with good people and good people you will imitate.”
Real friends are hard to come by…they’re rare because there is a connections in our souls that cannot be manufactured or formulated. It takes time and it requires as many troubles as it does celebrations.
Real friends love us…not “because of” but in “spite of” our weaknesses and flaws. They don’t overlook them, but they look past them. Real friends don’t run from our burdens…They help carry them.
The man in our text has such friends. His weakness is he’s paralyzed. He’s confined to a mat every day. He cannot walk. He has to beg for help just to meet his daily needs. He’s broken and the religious leaders of his day would have said, “Either he or his parents must have been terrible sinners for this to happen. He’s being punished by God.” That’s the way many looked at sickness and disease during Jesus’ time.
If anyone needed a friend, it was this man. It was these friends who did everything they could to get him to the only hope he had and that was a healing touch by Jesus. Little did they know they did much more than that. You never know what kind of impact you are going to have in someone’s life by being a friend and when you do it in the name of Jesus that impact is so much more.
Church is an identity, not a location. You are either a missionary or a part of the mission field. You are missionary to a world in need of Jesus’ friends. There is a realization in you that this world need acts of kindness because this world needs more Jesus. What usually keeps us from doing more are the influence of people around us who say you can’t make a difference.
As Jesus’ popularity grew, it became increasingly difficult to get to Jesus. Luke tells us that Jesus would “withdraw to desolate places to pray (Luke 5:16). No doubt the healing of a leper only magnified his popularity and the word got out what had happened. One day, as Jesus is teaching, the friends of this paralyzed man tenaciously work to give their friend hope.

The Men on a Mission

Luke 5:17–19 ESV
17 On one of those days, as he was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there, who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was with him to heal. 18 And behold, some men were bringing on a bed a man who was paralyzed, and they were seeking to bring him in and lay him before Jesus, 19 but finding no way to bring him in, because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down with his bed through the tiles into the midst before Jesus.
There are a number of people of interest in this narrative. Each had a purpose. Each had a mission. The tension of the story isn’t the man being lowered through the roof, but Pharisees and the Teachers of the Law who had come from all over the region- not to be taught by Jesus, but to be a sort-of investigative committee. These are the critics and cynics who think they have all the answers and with Jesus on the scene they just knew there must be something wrong with him. It was their job to figure it out and get rid of this preacher. Pharisees, by the way were in many respects faithful to the Scriptures, but they abandoned the heart of the Law for the Letter of the Law. For this Jesus was their greatest critic (See Matt 23:23; Matt 6:1-5; Luke 11:38-39).
Then there’s the crowd. A mix of people who are hungry for the message of truth from Jesus, a hope of a miracle, or just plain curious about what all the excitement was about over this man from Nazareth. Jesus, was of course, the other presence who sat in the mist of this crowd preaching on the Kingdom of God. The atmosphere must’ve been electric as God’s truth moved through the ears of the those listening and into their heart.
Then there’s the paralytic. He has no possible means of getting to Jesus and to be a part of this crowd. There were no social services then; no means for disabled people to have the same advantages as the rest of crowd. He was completely dependent on others for everything: his food, transportation, finding shelter, and even connecting with God at church.
Lastly there’s the men on a mission. These were the friends of the paralytic who knew they needed to get their friend connected to the Master. In their kindness and mission to help him physically, they were also unknowing changing his eternity.

The Master’s Message

We can only imagine what went through everyone’s mind as the crowd in the house started hear noises above them, parts of the ceiling coming down, and then a hole emerging. Suddenly someone shouts, “There’s a man being lowered down!” Down through the whole the paralytic’s friends lower through. Everyone’s eyes were on the man and on Jesus. What was going to happen next
These men set a worthy example in many ways. What an act of love for their friend. They cared for their friend and were willing to sacrifice to see their friend healed by Jesus, but what Jesus especially admired about them was their faith. And it was by this faith that the paralytic was healed, for when Jesus “saw their faith, he said, ‘Man, your sins are forgiven you’ ” (Luke 5:20). When Luke referred to “their faith,” this man was included. God does not forgive our sins on the basis of someone else’s faith. To be forgiven, we must put our own personal trust in Jesus, as this man did.
Hebrews 11:1 ESV
1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
Their faith was persistent. They arrived at the house and would have observed the crowd and see that it was impossible to get in. None of them said, “The crowd is too big. I guess this isn’t the Lord’s will.” Instead, they started climbing! When the four tore through the roof, they took the kingdom with determined force. Such graced tenacity is the key for the church making an impact.
DON’T QUIT (author unknown)
When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
When the road you’re traveling seems all uphill,
When the funds are low, and the debts are high,
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Life is strange with all its twists and turns,
As everyone of us sometime learns,
And many a failure turns about,
When he might have won if he stuck it out;
Don’t give up though the pace seems slow,
You may succeed with another blow.
Success is failure turned inside out,
The silver lining of the clouds of doubt,
You never can tell how close you are,
It may be near when it seems so far;
So stick to the fight when you are hardest hit,
It’s when things seem worse, THAT YOU MUST NOT QUIT!
Their faith was creative. Some who were standing idly by and saw the four’s success probably thought, “Why didn’t I think of that?” Perhaps they did not love as much or believe as passionately as the four friends. A faith that truly believes Christ is the only way will be inventive. This is the genius behind the Quito radio station, which sits directly on the equator at 10,000 feet and broadcasts the gospel to virtually the entire globe.
Their faith was sacrificial. Someone would have to repair the roof, and that would require time, labor, and expense. A faith that brings Christ’s power to the world must always be willing to pay the price.
John 15:13 ESV
13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.
A famous missionary C. T. Studd said; “If Jesus Christ be God, and died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for him.”
Mother Teresa once said, “if you give something that you can live without, it’s not giving”
Forgiveness was offered and offered freely by Jesus. This kind of forgiveness is also rooted in love and sacrifice. God freely offers forgiveness but that forgiveness is costly to him and only requires faith from us. This faith that Jesus is referring to is the faith of the friends and the paralytic.
"Forgiveness is radical Forgiveness dissolves alienation, brings reconciliation, restoration and renewal. Forgiveness is the most radical force in history. Jesus is the most radical person in history."

The Magnificent Moment

Luke 5:21 ESV
21 And the scribes and the Pharisees began to question, saying, “Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?”
The real paralytics that day were the pharisees. What a contrast to the 4 men who went to great lengths (including vandalism) to bring their friend to Jesus. There’s no record of any help from the religious leaders to help the man come to Jesus once he was lowered down. Instead of love, they showed indifference. Instead of faith, they showed criticism. Instead of unity, they chose to divide. How often do we do this in church? We must fight against the temptation of these negative spirits.
Appalled that Jesus would pronounce forgiveness of sins, the Pharisees and Teachers of the Law accuse Jesus of the ultimate sin, blasphemy. “Only God can forgive sins.” They were absolutely correct that God can forgive sins. Their criticism arose out of ignorance because they didn’t know the true identity of Jesus. By claiming the authority to forgive sins, Jesus was either God, or a blasphemer. There is no middle ground; Jesus could not have been merely a good man, a true prophet, or a teacher of morality and ethics, if He were a blasphemer of God (John MacArthur).
Rather than meet them head-on, Jesus unmasks their own hearts. I’m sure the heart of the paralytic must’ve been sinking too.
Luke 5:22–23 ESV
22 When Jesus perceived their thoughts, he answered them, “Why do you question in your hearts? 23 Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’?
Why did Jesus do this? First, despite the man’s physical condition, his greatest need was his eternal condition. Secondly, it begs the question to all of us too. What’s our priority? Health, wealth, happiness or reconciliation with God? Third, man tend to put the greatest emphasis on miracles. To most of us, the greatest challenge would be the healing of a leg or disease. Telling someone is forgiven is easy - is costs us nothing. For God it’s the other way around - signs, wonders, and miracles are the easy part - forgiveness cost Him his son. With that, Jesus shows them which is easier:
Luke 5:24–26 ESV
24 But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the man who was paralyzed—“I say to you, rise, pick up your bed and go home.” 25 And immediately he rose up before them and picked up what he had been lying on and went home, glorifying God. 26 And amazement seized them all, and they glorified God and were filled with awe, saying, “We have seen extraordinary things today.”
With a word from Jesus, the paralytic is on his feet. His restored body dancing around praising God as the crowd rejoices in the witness of a true miracle. The rays of light shining down on the scene with the dust in the air. The Pharisees, who were just moments ago so arrogant, now feeling very small in the presence of God’s greatness. Charles Spurgeon wrote: “I think I see him! He sets one foot down to God’s glory, he plants the other to the same note, he walks to God’s glory … he carries his bed to God’s glory, he moves his whole body to the glory of God, he speaks, he shouts, he sings, he leaps to the glory of God.” This is the image of our lives restored from God. Don’t go back to laying on a death bed paralyzed by sin!


This is what Luke is continually leading us to understand. These miracles are verifiable and undeniable by the testimony of those who were there and they demonstrate Jesus’s authority. Jesus’s authority in your life. His authority over this world, his authority over satan, his authority over nature, his authority over sickness, his authority over our wretched state, his authority over our sin. These are images of our eternity. This is our hope. Whoever a man (or woman) is, whatever he has done, no matter how heinous his sin—whether murder, infidelity, perversion, child abuse, betrayal, embezzlement, lying, jealousy, hateful gossip, or whatever—Christ can save him completely and eternally. This is the gospel, the good news.
Our forgiveness is costly. It was paid for by Jesus on the cross. It was verified with His resurrection. It was sealed with his ascention and the coming of the Holy Spirit. It will be culminated at the Rapture. Are you Rapture ready? That can only be true if you have faith in him to forgive your sins. This is why we celebrate Easter. Not only today but every Sunday.
Isaiah 55:7 ESV
7 let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
Hebrews 8:12 ESV
12 For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.”
Take it to the Cross
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