Picture of Pastor Gettys

Sermon delivered August 9, 2008 by Pastor Don Gettys

McDonald Road Seventh-day Adventist Church

McDonald, Tennessee

Biblical quotations are from the New International Version NIV unless otherwise noted. Divine pronouns and titles are capitalized.

Rooftop Faith

Luke 5:18-20

(RealAudio Version available)

Sin is fun--for a season.  Right?  But we need to get a control of sin. 

Once upon a time there was a young man.  The story is in Luke, chapter 5, and he devoted his life to having the high life.   He didn’t have much control over his life and so he got involved in a lot of sin.  Now the Bible does not say if it was drinking, or immorality or anything else, but eventually this youth lost his vitality and he became paralyzed.  Whatever he was doing, he ended up paralyzed with no hope of recovery.  His body was wasting away, and it affected his mind.  His mind was not what it used to be.  He was languishing away, and he would lie on a mat, and this mat was about 3 feet wide by 6 feet long.  Not quite the size of what they dig to bury a person in the ground, and he was confined to that mat for the rest of his life.  He was in pain, as well.

Now I want you to picture yourself this morning as that man.  You are that man.  At least a lot of us are.  Are you paralyzed by sin?  Do bad habits keep coming back into your life?  Do you really need some help here?

His greatest desire was to have his sins forgiven.  That was the biggest thing in his life.  “Lord, I’ve really blown it.  I’ve messed my life up.  And I need my sins forgiven.”  He had lived the life of Riley and he was deeply sorry for it and then the good news came that Jesus was in his very town.  Jesus came right there where he lived, but the bad news was that he was confined to his mat and he couldn’t go to Jesus for healing, because he was totally handicapped.  He needed a miracle, and he viewed his spiritual paralysis as being greater than his physical paralysis.  And that’s the way you always need to think of things.  Spiritually, that’s the greatest thing.  Don’t be concerned about your blood pressure.  Don’t be concerned about your heart.  Be concerned about your spiritual heart and your spiritual connection with Jesus.  You know, it’s true that sin is the greatest illness there is, but Jesus is the greatest healer there is, and Jesus can take care of your sin problem.  The Creator of the world was in town, and Jesus came to Peter’s house, and He came into the house with the disciples and with a huge delegation of the Jewish leaders.

Verse 17 now, of Luke, chapter 5, says that one day He was teaching and the Pharisees came, the teachers of the law who had come from every village of Galilee and from Judea and Jerusalem.  They were sitting there, and the power of the Lord was present for Him to heal the sick.  The power was there, and it says they came from every village in Galilee.  Every village.  How many villages would that be?  This would be a big crowd of dignitaries.  Leaders of the Jewish religion.  They were all there, and I think Jesus viewed this as His opportunity to convince the Jewish leadership that honestly He was the Messiah that they were looking for.  This was their great opportunity, but, alas they had not come to hear Jesus.  They had come to hear mistakes.  They hadn’t come to get a blessing.  Jesus’ leathery audience had come to catch Jesus make some type of mistake so they could prove that he wasn’t the Messiah.  They were critical.  They were a bunch of nitpickers, and they came to find fault with Jesus. 

And I think some people today come to church with that same purpose.  They come to find fault with the service.  “Well, we don’t like this,” or “We don’t like that,” or whatever.  Always come for a blessing and you will always receive a blessing.  Right?

Luke, chapter 5, the last part of verse 17 says the power of the Lord was there, was present, for Jesus to heal the sick.  How many of those people got healed?  None.  How many of them needed some healing power in their life?  They all do.  Do you?  I do.  Nobody got healed.  Why didn’t they get healed?  They were in the power-house.  Have you ever been in the Chattanooga power house at the Chickamauga dam?  I’ve been down there and seen those big dynamoes underneath the dam.  It’s awesome.  They were right there in the power-house.  The power was there and nobody was getting healed.  Why not?  Because they didn’t ask.  These synagogue PhD’s were above asking Jesus to heal them.  Is Jesus’ healing power in your home?  I think it is.  It’s there.  Jesus has not gone out of the healing business, and so all you have to do is ask Him.  They didn’t ask.  Jesus is in every Christian home.  That’s my opinion.  If you ask Him to come into your home, He’s there.   He’s there to give you life.  He’s there to give you victory over defeat.  You may say, “Well, I could never overcome this thing that’s got me.”  Yes, you can through the power of Jesus.  The power is there for you to live a victorious life through Jesus Christ.  You just simply have to get connected to it.  I read my Bible, I study my Bible every day.  I did it this morning before I--I wouldn’t dare leave the house without doing that.

During this theological summit, four neighborhood friends came to the impaired man’s home, and he begged them, “Can you help me?  Jesus is in town and I need help,” and they agreed.  They volunteered to provide transportation for this man, and so they picked up his mat and went off, and their mission was the same as our mission.  The same as our mission ought to be.  Our mission is to bring other people to Jesus.  That’s your mission as a midwife.  That’s your mission as an executive.  That’s your mission in life is to bring other people to Jesus.  To get people connected with Jesus.

Peter’s house had a door.  I don’t think they all came in through the roof every day, do you?  It had a door.  And the door was open.  Here in Collegedale how many of you lock your doors at night?  Don’t not raise your hand, but we lock our doors at night, don’t we?  We do.  Over there, they leave their doors open in the daytime, even.  In Palestine when the door is open, there’s no doorbell in Palestine, so you just come in.  The door is open, that’s an invitation for visitors.

I want to read to you now about the worst verse, one of the worst verses in the entire Bible.  It’s verse 19.  Luke 5:19.  This is such a pity that this happened.  Verse 19 says that when they could not find a way to come into the house because of the crowd.  Because of why?  Why couldn’t they find a way to bring this man to Jesus?  Because of what?  Because of the crowd.  Such a shame.  The crowd stood between the man in need and Jesus.  Don’t you ever stand between somebody that needs Jesus and the person.  Don’t do that.  Don’t block their way to Jesus.  Never stand between the needy and the Saviour.  Many in this crowd were blocking the way.  They were actually a living barrier to Jesus.  The man could not get through because of this crowd.  It was impossible for them to reach the Life-giver.  Nobody was budging.  In fact, they all had their backs turned to the man that was in need.  And we do that as Christians.  We turn our backs on people that have needs.  This is a shame that this happened here in this verse.

And it’s still the same today.  In my 43 years as a Seventh-day Adventist pastor, I have seen it over and over and over and over again.  Somebody comes into the church, they’re happy, they’re here to worship, and somebody else says something that cuts them to the heart.  Have you ever seen that?  And they walk out, and they never come back.  Such a shame.  They get hurt.  They stop attending.  They haven’t set foot in the church for years.  I’ve seen cliques.  You know what a church clique is?  I’ve seen a clique give the cold shoulder to others.  We need to avoid shunning.  Avoid the holy huddle.  Have you seen these holy huddles around the church?  You can’t get in there.  Have you seen me go in the middle of those huddles sometimes and just pop up there, and “I’m here.  What are you guys talking about?”  They don’t like that, but I do it, and I don’t think they’re all holy huddles.  We need to be inclusive, don’t we?  Include everybody.  We need an open door policy.  Give them your seat.  I had a person in one of my churches, somebody came in and sat in their seat.  Do you own that pew?  Do you hold title to that pew?  Can you take it down to the pawn shop, well you don’t do that anyway.  You don’t have title to that pew.  Nobody does.  You don’t own that pew.  If somebody comes and their sitting in your seat, they’re sitting in Jesus’ seat.  You can find another seat.  I wish that one requirement for membership in the McDonald Road church--Now I could never pull this off, but I wish that one of the requisites of membership in this church was that you must warmly greet at least 4 people every Sabbath, other than your family.  A visitor, a member, somebody new, hopefully, each week.  4 every week, or you can’t be a member here.  I wish that that would be.  I can’t enforce that.  We should do that.  Greet people.  Find out their name.  Learn who they are.  Don’t just be like a fireman.  You come in here and then when it’s time you go straight out that door, straight to your car.  Linger.  Get acquainted with people.  Be friends.

You know, our world has millions of hurting people.  They can’t pay their bills. Their kids go to jail.  Shame on families like that.  We would never be like that.  Help them.  Keep the church doors open for them.  There are people in this church struggling with disease, struggling with sickness.  We need to help them.  We need to be stretcher bearers.  We need to be like those 4 friends.

Again and again these stretcher carriers tried to push their way in to Jesus.  They went to the windows.  They went to the doors.  The front door.  The back door.  The sick man was on the stretcher.  They were trying to help him.  His friends may have thought, “You know, there’s no use.  We can’t get in.  We’ll just come back some other day.”  I don’t know why they just didn’t wait until Jesus was finished, and then when He came out after the meeting, they could have, but they didn’t.  Maybe they thought, “Well, we’ll just go on home.  We’ll try it the next time that Jesus comes into town.”  And then, Sister White says, the man on the mat thought of the roof, himself.  He thought of the roof.  And he mentioned to his 4 friends, “You know, we could go up on the roof, and you could take the tiles off of the roof and let me down and there I’d be, right in front of Jesus, and He would heal me.”  And they agreed.  They agreed, and you know, that’s a desperate idea, but I think sometimes we need to get desperate about our religion.  The Bible says the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.  So often we’re half asleep during our prayers.  Get fervent about your religion.  Try extraordinary prayer.

All the houses in Palestine, back in those days, had a--one section of their roof was a patio-like roof up there, flat roof, made of strong timbers covered with tiles and thatch maybe, or hardened clay, and people enjoyed the cool evening air up there.  They’d have parties up there, and go up there to pray.   This invalid had faith.  Faith in Jesus, faith in his friends, faith in the ropes.  I mean, the 4 people are holding the ropes, and if the rope slips, “I’m going to fall.”

One day I was in the attic over here at our house where we live, doing something, and attics are dangerous.  In order to walk through the attic, you have to step on the ceiling joists.  You know what those are.  The problem is you can’t see them because they’re covered up with insulation, so you put your foot down, you feel, “Yep, that’s one.”  You step on it.  Well, I was going along, trying to get through there, and I missed, and my foot slipped off of the ceiling joist and with my weight on it, it went down through the insulation and down through the drywall and came out the ceiling of my wife’s kitchen.  My wife was not very happy.  There was insulation all over the place and drywall, and guess who had to fix it, and so the next time you come to our house, don’t look up at the kitchen ceiling.  You’ll know what kind of a drywaller I am.

But the mat man may have thought, “What if the homeowner sues me for tearing up his ceiling?  What if Jesus leaves before we get through with our vandalism?”  But he persisted.  He had faith, and he got his miracle.  You’ve got to do that.  You’ve got to persist.

You know, his friends were willing to do whatever it would take.  Faith takes work.  It’s work to rip somebody’s roof apart with your bare hands.  They didn’t have tools and skil saws.  Faith persists.  The crowds did not stop the people.  Faith is innovative.  They created a skylight in that house.  Faith succeeds.  Jesus rewarded their faith.  You know, it can be dangerous to invite Jesus into your house.  Peter lost his roof.  It was a good thing that Jesus was not in the basement or they would have bored a hole right down clear through floor after floor til they got to Jesus.  They were going to do whatever it took and lower this man in front of Jesus.  These 4 roofers moved into action.  The faithful 4 believed that if they could bring this man into the presence of Jesus, Jesus would heal him.  They had that faith.  In fact, the man was willing to be lowered.  Only then could he be raised up.  You have to be lowered before you can be raised.  James, chapter 4, verse 10.  ”Humble yourself and He shall lift you up.”  The humble is first.

Now let’s go to verse 19.  It says, “When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus.”

Now I can just picture this happening.  Jesus is there trying to witness to the Pharisees.  These religious scholars and representatives and delegates from all of the synagogues in Galilee, and they hear this commotion up on the roof.  They hear this zealous scuffling and tearing noises, and everybody thinks, “What is this?”, and finally dust starts coming down, and plaster starts coming and dried mud and boards and sawdust.  I don’t know what all they’re doing up there.  They’re tearing the roof apart, and people begin to move over and get out of the way, and finally it disrupts the whole thing, and I can just see Peter jumping up.  “This is my house.  What’s happening?”  And I can just picture Jesus saying, “Peter.  Hang with Me here.  I know what’s going on.  You’re going to see something great.  Just relax.”  Pretty soon there’s an emerging hole.  You could see the hands tearing away.  Pretty soon the sunlight is coming into the living room, maybe shining on Jesus’ face.  All could see this hole gradually taking place, 3 feet wide, 6 feet long.

Then they see a stretcher being lowered into the house by the roofers, and I wonder where they got these four ropes.  You know, it takes coordination to lower somebody on a mat.  Have you ever done that?  4 people lowering a man on a mat.  If one lowers faster than the others, you could slip off that thing,  and you know, it takes team effort to save souls.  These 4 people were of one accord.  It takes innovation to save souls.  It takes work to win souls.  It takes risk.  They risked being placed in jail for their vandalism.   These volunteer roofers were crashing the party.  You have to think through the ceiling.  You have to think through the roof.  Are you willing to take a risk?  Are you willing to invite your next door neighbor to a corn roast to get better acquainted, to establish a relationship with that neighbor and to maybe lead that neighbor to Jesus.  Our ideas have got to go through the roof.

Luke, chapter 5, verse 20.  “And when He saw their faith, He said unto him, Man, thy sins be forgiven thee.”  He knew the man’s greatest desire was for forgiveness of sins.  Not healing, and so He forgave his sins. Jesus saw his faith, their faith.  The faith of the roofers.  He saw their faith and He healed the mat man.  The man on the mat.  That’s interesting.  He saw their faith.  That sort of reminds me of intercessory prayer.  Sometimes we need to intercede in the lives of people.  Somebody may be so deep into something they can’t help themselves, so they need a counselor.  They need some medicine.  The need some people praying for them, to intercede for them.

The man’s greatest problem was not his unmovable body but his load of sin.  And he desired forgiveness and before he even spoke, Jesus forgave his sins.  And this shows Jesus’ omniscience, doesn’t it?  Jesus was the eternal God.

Verse 21.  “The Pharisees and the teachers of the law began thinking to themselves, ‘Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God’?"

Jesus knew their thoughts.  Verse 22.  “Jesus knew what they were thinking.”

Jesus knows your thoughts, as well.  He does.  He knows what you’re thinking right now.  And Jesus thinks about you 24 hours a day.  Jesus is thinking about you, with positive thoughts.   Loving you, all the time.

And so Jesus asked,  "Why are you thinking these things in your hearts?”  Verse 23.  “Which is easier to say, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Get up and walk'?  Which is it?

And so the Pharisees and the Jewish Seminary professors tried to come up with an answer to that Pilpul question.  Pilpul is a form of interrogation.  The mat man lay there on his bed.  He knew his sins were forgiven but he was still an invalid.  Still immobile.  Still in pain.

All of us experience the mat.  Have you been on the mat in your life?  Have you been flat out?  Have you been disabled?  Are you disabled because of sin, because of disease, because of some defect in birth or whatever?  You’re on the mat.  You’re helpless.  You’re down and out.  You need some friends to help you.  To take you to Jesus.  To take you to church.  How did this man have so many friends?  Have you met people that are sick all the time and you ask them, “How are you doing?”  You don’t dare ask them “How are you doing” because they’ll give you an hour or 2 or 10 hours of, “Well, this hurts, and this scar,” and on and on and on they go.  You don’t dare ask them too many questions.  You just say, “You’re looking good today,” and then you lie to them.

But this man, I think, smiled in his pain.  He was cheerful on his mat.  He was a happy man.  He was friendly.  He was upbeat, and people liked to be around him, and if you’ve got to live on the mat, then be happy with what you have.  Be cheerful.  What an example he was to all of us.

Jesus had waited for an answer from His critics crowded around Him, but no answer came, and so Jesus showed the proof of His Divinity by telling them what they were thinking.  And then He said, “To prove to you that I can forgive sins, I am going to say to the paralyzed man, ‘Get up.  Take up your mat and go home,’” and verse 25,  ”Immediately he” did what?  “Immediately he stood up and in front of them, he took what he had been lying on and went home” how?  How did he go home?   Went home doing what?  “Praising God.”  Everybody was amazed.  Everybody gave praise to the Lord. They were filled with awe and they said, "We have seen a remarkable thing today.”

This man jumped up like a Thompson Gazelle and went out and ran home, and maybe he put that mat on the wall with the signatures of the mat-bearers and he was a testimony to the miraculous power of Jesus the rest of his life.  Or maybe he took that mat and went bounding up that stairway with it to fix that hole in the roof, to help his friends, because the mat exactly matched the size of the hole that it was, and the mat had 4 ropes conveniently tied to it that he could fasten it into the roof system and maybe that’s what they did.  I don’t really know.

For the rest of his life he was living proof of Jesus’ love and Jesus’ divinity, and he went out praising God.  What an example.

He couldn’t be silent about Jesus.  He told his testimony all over town.  “Jesus did this to me.  Remember, I’m the mat man, and now look at me.  Jesus healed me.”  And you know what, Jesus is going to heal every one of us.  You may say, “Well, Jesus hasn’t healed me, yet.”  He will.  If He doesn’t heal you in this life, you know what?  He will heal you in the next.  Amen?  Your day is coming.   Jesus was the focus of his life.  He was doubly saved that day.  Saved from sin and saved from the mat.  Saved by his faith.  By his faith in Jesus Christ.  Faith is the victory.  You know that.  That’s how you get victory.  You’ll never have victory over your problems until you get everything right with Jesus.

We’re going to sing our closing hymn now.  Faith Is The Victory.

Hymn of Praise:  #167 Alleluia! Sing to Jesus!
Scripture: Mark 5:21-24
Hymn of Response:  #608 Faith is the Victory

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McDonald Road Sermon transcribed by Steve Foster 8/18/08