Lake Hamilton Baptist Church
Hot Springs, Arkansas
July 22, 2012
 And when he returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home.  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.  And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men.  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.  And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”  Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts,  “Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?”  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?  Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk’?  But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the paralytic— “I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.”  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!”
-- Mark 2:1-12, ESV
Mark, the Gospel of action, packs a lot of it into this short story. To have been there on that day would have been a feast for the eyes. There was the Lord Jesus Christ, in the home of Simon Peter, leading a Bible study with a band of followers bent around His feet. There were the scribes, sent by the Pharisees, to spy on this new group of pilgrims pursuing a new covenant with God. Suddenly, a hole opens up in the thatched roof and a crippled man is lowered down by four faithful friends. Jesus continues to preach, the scribes charge him with blasphemy, friend help a friend in the house, and Jesus helps him out. Then the people said, “We never saw anything like this!”
You ain’t seen nothin’ yet. Jesus actually performed two miracles in this text. The people marveled at only one, the physical healing of a previously paralyzed man. But the greater marvel, the eternal miracle, is the one you can’t see. Let’s take a long look at this story once again.
Take a look at the priority of Jesus’ ministry.
The priority of Jesus’ ministry was not to perform miracles, although you would never know that today from watching the hucksters on religious television. Verse two shows Jesus doing what He thought was best, “He was preaching the word to them.” No doubt He spoke on the kingdom of God, and the repentance and forgiveness required to enter in.
From the outset of His earthly ministry, Jesus made preaching and teaching his main priority (ref. Mark 1:38). When Jesus preached, people marveled (ref. Matthew 7:29; Mark 1:22). To this day, Jesus, the living Word of God, remains the ultimate preacher of the spoken and written word of God!
Therefore, preaching the word of God and the gospel should be the priority for Christ’s church. Studying Scripture is far more important than seeking miracles. Preaching and teaching should be something we see and hear every time we gather for worship. When done with biblical authority, it should be marveled at, though the marveling should be at the message and never the messenger. But when you witness sound preaching and glorify God for what you’ve seen and heard, just remember you ain’t seen nothin’ yet, until you see what preaching can produce in people.
Take a look at the people involved in Jesus’ ministry.
You can see them all. There were devoted followers, the eleven disciples and a handful of others. There were scoffers and spies, namely the scribes sent from the Pharisees. There was one desperate, helpless, paralyzed man. And, we see his four faithful friends, who were willing to overcome any obstacle to get help for their helpless friend.
Every time people gather at Jesus’ feet, or in Jesus’ name, you can see the same basic kinds of people: the hungry, the hypocrites, the helpers, and the hurting. Eventually you can see the hungry get fed spiritual food and gain strength. Eventually you can see the hypocrites display their spiritual ignorance. And eventually, if there are enough helpers, you can see lives changed. Praise God, for the most part, for the people we can see at the feet of Jesus!
But you ain’t seen nothin’ yet. You can see the outward effect of the ministry of the word of God. You can see whether or not people attend, whether or not they stay awake during the sermon, their countenance as they come and go. But you cannot see inside, when conviction of sin comes, when faith and repentance take hold, when sins are forgiven, when the kingdom of God comes within. That’s why Jesus preached. And occasionally, He performed other miracles, also.
Take a look at the miracle you can see.
Physical, organic, healing miracles are rare. Moses and Aaron performed them. So did Elijah and Elisha. Jesus and His Apostles were endowed with the gifts of healing. I really don’t think anyone else ever has, even though I humbly stand to be corrected if given enough evidence. That a miracle happened in this story, however, is of little doubt. The people were amazed at the miracle they could see.
The miracle happened because there was a problem, a problem only God could solve. We don’t know exactly why the man was paralyzed, or what exact part his four friends played in the calamity. Perhaps they were all related when the man was born that way. Perhaps they were all together when the debilitating injury took place. Perhaps one or more of the four were a direct cause of the paralysis. We don’t know. We only know there was no other way, especially in that day and time, for this man to get well other than a messianic miracle. In plain life, all problems are, well, problematic. But in the providence of God, problems can lead us to God, from whence our true help shall come.
The miracle happened because there were people who cared about someone less fortunate. They could walk, their friend could not. They had faith (of some kind), their friend (apparently) did not. They could get to Jesus, even if it was the hard way, their friend on his own could not. I wish we in today’s church could see the need for spiritual ambulances as much as we understand the need for physical ambulances. If we has a friend seriously injured in an accident, what would be our first thought? We have friends all around us who are spiritually sick and dead, unable to bring themselves to Jesus. Should not our vehicles be the spiritual gurneys that seek to bring them to the feet of Jesus?
This miracle happened, in the words of the great theologian Forrest Gump, because God showed up. He was sitting right there, in that small house near the synagogue in Capernaum. And God, as only God can do, reversed the curse. The paralytic picked up his mat and walked away changed. This is the miracle you can see. But, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.
Take a look at the miracle you cannot see.
This is an oxymoron, or this is faith. Yes, faith is seeing something you cannot see. You can see Jesus and His glory. You can see people and their problems. You cannot measure a person’s greatest problem, which is sin and separation from God. And, you cannot put into a test tube things like forgiveness, reconciliation with God, redemption, and salvation, God’s greatest miracle (although once again, you can see evidence).
God can do miracles that restore the body. But if this is all you can see, then you ain’t seen nothin’ yet. The point of this story is that God can give forgiveness, for all of your sin, millions of them, and restore your soul to a right relationship with the Almighty. And in truth, the miracle you cannot see is greater and more difficult that the one you can.
If you took a hundred paralytics and put them in a room with God, how many do you think would readily receive the miracle required to make them get up and walk? I would wager it would be a hundred percent. We live in a world of eight billion people where the gospel offers forgiveness wholesale to whoever believes in Jesus Christ. What percentage of the planet is taking up that offer by taking up the cross? Plus, a crippled man made well will one day be unable to walk again. But forgiveness lasts forever. So which is the greater miracle? It is the one you cannot see.
Jesus is Lord, for this passage proves it by showing Jesus doing things that only God can do. Forgiveness is free, for there was no bill sent to this man, nor an offering taken. The forgiveness God gives comes by grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. It is the greatest miracle. I hope you’ve seen it, experienced it, and shared it. For if you haven’t, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.