What Excites God?

Bible Book: Mark  2 : 1-12
Subject: Faith; Witnessing; Forgiveness; Sharing

As a pastor I can really relate to the story of a pastor who was candidating [being interviewed] at a church, and they told him that they wanted to call him provided he would agree to live by faith. When he asked the six men on the committee what they meant by that, they said, "Well, what we mean by that is, you're not going to have any stated salary, but you're just going to trust God to meet your needs." The man thought about it for a minute, and though it cost him the church, he gave a good response. He said, "I've got a better idea. Each of you men has a salary. Why don't we put all the salaries together, divide the total by seven, and all of us can live by faith."

Well, I want to tell you today that nothing excites God more than to see people live by faith, and specifically faith in Him and His word. Nothing excites God more than for people to act like what they say they believe is true. In other words, when people take God at His word and act accordingly, God gets excited.

In one of the most familiar miracles in the Bible, we're going to see three things that excite God, and you and I can be a part of all of these things. We can see these things take place on a daily basis and know that not only does God get excited about these things, but it will excite us as well.

I. God Is Excited By Friends That Share

"And again He entered Capernaum after some days, and it was heard that He was in the house. Immediately many gathered together, so that there was no longer room to receive them, not even near the door. And He preached the word to them. Then they came to Him, bringing a paralytic who was carried by four men." (vv.1-3)

This is a story of a man who was paralyzed. In fact, the Greek word that is used to describe this man gives us our word paralytic. It literally means "to be loosed on one side." Because of some malfunction in the motor area of his brain or his spinal cord his nerves had collapsed and his muscles were incapacitated.

In other words, this man was crippled. His arms hung on his side like Christmas ornaments on a tree. His legs were as limp as spaghetti. Now it is very obvious that he needed Jesus. But even more than that, he needed somebody to bring him to Jesus.

You see even if this man on his own could have gotten to the house, he could not have gotten in the house. Verses 2 & 4 tell us that the place was absolutely packed and there was not room for anyone else. All of the seats were gone; it was standing room only, and this man couldn't even stand.

Now what breaks your heart is to think about the fact that here were men who were carrying this paralytic, and they were trying to get into this house, but nobody would let them through. You see this crowd cared more about seats than they cared about souls. They were more self-centered than they were soul-centered.

Did you know there are people just like that in church today? You walk into a church today and sit in the wrong seat; you sit in that place where Grandma Jones or Uncle Ben's been sitting for forty- seven years, and you're liable to be sued, if not shot. There is a tragedy in that type of mentality. You see, that mentality says, "I care more about me than I care about you, even if you might be lost and in need of salvation."

Now may I get very personal for just a moment? Did you know that the single most important part of a worship service is the invitation? That is the time when you bring everything you've worked for and prayed for all during the week to a point; where you invite people to come to Christ and give people an opportunity to receive the Lord Jesus. You would think that a church member would be prayerful and careful not to do anything to disturb that time; everything to be a help and not a hindrance. But that's not always the case. May I ask you a question? Can you hardly wait for the invitation to begin? Or, can you hardly wait for the invitation to end? That will tell you a lot more about your spiritual condition than you may even want to know.

I want to respectfully ask everyone of us to consider that every time we come to church, we ought to provide an atmosphere and an attitude that is most conducive to people being able to get to Jesus. I tell you, without shame, that every time a lost sinner walks into this church, I want everything he sees, everything he hears, and everything he feels to tell him, "These people are really concerned about me."

Now the tragedy is that the biggest hindrance to this man getting to Jesus was the scribes and the Pharisees. They didn't do anything to help this man get to Jesus. They hadn't brought anybody to the service that needed to hear the gospel. Do you know why they were there? Just to criticize. The only thing they had to say was this: "Why does this man speak blasphemies like this? Who can forgive sins but God alone?" (v.7)

Did you know the greatest hindrance to people coming to Jesus is not an atheist or an agnostic; the greatest obstacle is the cold, calloused, carnal, critical, church member who, by his attitude and his comments, give a lost person every reason not to come to Jesus. I am convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt, when you come to church you will see exactly what you're looking for. If you want to find something to criticize, you'll find it. If you want to find something that will be a blessing, you'll find that as well.

So if you want to keep lost people from coming to church, criticize it; if you want to keep the lost from coming to hear the preacher, criticize him; if you want to keep the lost from being loved and cared for by our people, criticize them.

But I thank God for these four men who were willing to bring this man to Jesus. I call them friends because you'll never have a greater friend on planet earth than someone who wants to bring you to Jesus. Do you know why they did it? Because they cared.

The first step to sharing is caring. No matter how much you have to share, if you don't care you'll never share. But these men cared enough about this man to go pick him up and bring him to Jesus. I tell you, whenever we try to bring anybody to Jesus, it always excites our Heavenly Father.

You think about it long and hard and you will realize if you're saved it is because somebody cared about you. If you think about it, most of us who are saved here today are saved because somebody brought us to Jesus. It may have been your parents, it may have been your pastor, it may have been a person you didn't even know. But somebody was concerned enough to bring you to Jesus.

I want you to understand something. I realize that salvation is totally of God. From A to Z, from Alpha to Omega, from beginning to end, God is the author and finisher of our faith, and nobody can come to God unless the Father draws them. But the method that God uses to reach people is other people. Friends that share excite God.

II. God Is Excited By Faith That Shows

"And when they could not come near Him because of the crowd, they uncovered the roof where He was. And when they had broken through, they let down the bed on which the paralytic was lying." (v.4) By the time these friends had arrived the house was full. People jammed the doorways, kids were sitting in the windows, outsiders were peeking over shoulders, and, quite frankly, they had a choice to make. Do we go in or give up?

But they didn't give up for this reason; they had faith. Amazingly, they climb up to the top of the house, cut through the roof, and lower the friend down by a blanket.

Now think about it. It was risky to do that; they could have fallen. It was dangerous to do it; the paralytic could have slipped out. It was certainly not kosher. I mean after all, de-roofing someone's house can be construed as anti-social. It was intrusive. Jesus was busy preaching a message. But it was their only chance to get this man to Jesus, and so they climbed to the roof, and they cut through the roof. That's what real faith does. Faith acts. Faith shows.

You have to love these men. I mean they get on top of the roof, cut a hole in it, and let the man down through the roof. They didn't care about criticism, they didn't care about rejection, they didn't care what people thought. They were not even saying to themselves what most Baptists would have been saying, "Who's going to pay for the roof?" They were just determined to get this man to Jesus.

You see, they not only had faith enough to believe that Jesus could meet the need of their friend, but they had faith enough to do something about it. They didn't just simply "pray about it" they put some feet to their prayers.

Now verse 5 is not only very revealing, it's very fascinating. Listen to it: "When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, 'Son, your sins are forgiven you.'" Do you see that? Jesus saved this man, and eventually healed this man, not because of his faith, but because of their faith.

You see Jesus knew there was only one reason that would have motivated them to go to all of that trouble to get that man to Him, and it was this: They believed Jesus could and would heal him. It will be a great day when every Christian wakes up one morning and realizes and believes that God can use them to bring other people to Jesus.

We ought to believe in our hearts that God can save anybody. Sometimes we get intimidated by the doubt of the sinner. I want to remind you of something. God is more concerned with the faith of the saint than He is with the doubt of the sinner. Great doubt does not hinder God; little faith hinders God, and God can use you to bring other people to Jesus if you will believe that He will.

But notice that they brought this man to Jesus. If they had brought this man to the synagogue he would have died a cripple. If they had brought this man to those religious leaders, he would have died a cripple. But they brought him to Jesus.

Just one other point. It was "they" who brought him to Jesus. God wants to use all of us together to bring people to Jesus. Sometimes it takes a team effort to bring just one person to Christ. I read about a Christian doctor who had a burden for not only the bodies of his patients, but also for their souls. One of his patients came in and this doctor suspected that he was suffering from a serious illness. He spoke to this man and said, "John, you may have something seriously wrong with you, so let me deal with what might be a greater problem. Are you ready to die? Are you ready to meet God? Do you know Jesus as your Lord and as your Savior? That doctor witnessed to him, but the man refused to be saved.

Well, the doctor recommended him to see a specialist that very day. Unbeknownst to this man, that specialist was also a Christian. When the patient walked out of his door, the doctor called the specialist and said, "John is coming to see you, would you witness to him?"

When the man walked into the office the specialist examined him and said, "We're going to need x- rays, and I'm going to recommend to you a radiologist that I want you to see immediately. But before you go, I believe you have another problem that only one doctor in the universe can treat, and He is the Great Physician. Your problem is sin, and let me tell you how He can cure your problem." He, too, witnessed to the man, but the man refused to be saved.

Well, unbeknownst to the man this radiologist was also a Christian, and when he left the office this doctor called the radiologist and said, "John is coming to see you, would you witness to him?" When this man walked into the radiologist's office they did a chest x-ray. When the results came back the man said, "Do you see anything wrong?" The radiologist said, "I see two problems; one is minor, and one is major." The man said, "What's the major problem?" The doctor said, "It's your heart." He said, "What's wrong with my heart?" He said, "It's desperately wicked, and it needs to be saved." He witnessed to this man and the man still refused to be saved. The doctor said, "I want you to immediately go to the pharmacist and get on the medication he is going to prescribe for you and I believe you will be healed."

Well, unbeknownst to the man the pharmacist was also a Christian. He called the pharmacist and said, "John is coming over to get his medicine, would you witness to him?" He walked into the drugstore and he said, "Do you have my medicine?" The pharmacist said, "For which illness?" The man said, "What do you mean which illness?" He said, "Well, I have this medicine for your physical illness, but I can prescribe for you the blood of Jesus for your spiritual illness." He witnessed to him and the man was wonderfully saved.

There is nothing more exciting than friends who share and a faith that shows.

III. God Is Excited By Forgiveness That Saves

"When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, 'Son, your sins are forgiven you.' But some of the scribes were sitting there and reasoning in their hearts,

"Why does this Man speak blasphemies like this? Who can forgive sins but God alone?"

And immediately, when Jesus perceived in His spirit that they reasoned thus within themselves, He said to them, "Why do you reason about these things in your hearts?

"Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, 'Your sins are forgiven you,' or to say, 'Arise, take up your bed and walk'?

"But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins"-He said to the paralytic,

I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go your way to your house." (vv.5-11)

Now to prove that Jesus could forgive this man's sin, He heals this man's body. So the man is not only healed, he is saved. Do you understand that the real miracle was not that this man was no longer lame, the real miracle was this man was no longer lost. It wasn't just that this man was cured, he was converted. He didn't just go away healed, he went away holy.

Now I want you to see in this story two things at the same time. You see, first of all, the greatest thing man can ever do, and you also see the hardest thing God can ever do. What is the greatest thing a person can ever do in this life? I'll tell you. The greatest thing a person can ever do in this life is to bring another person to Jesus Christ.

But what is the hardest thing God can do? Well, you'll see it in the question Jesus asked in v.9. "Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, 'Your sins are forgiven you,' or to say, 'Arise, take up your bed and walk'"? Now notice the question is not, "Which is easier to do?" The question is, "Which is easier to say?" Now don't miss this. The thing that was the easiest for Jesus to say was the hardest thing for Jesus to do. Yet the hardest thing for Jesus to say was the easiest thing that Jesus could do. Now let me explain that to you.

Let me put the question this way. Was it hard for Jesus to heal that man? You say absolutely not. All He had to do was just say a word. "Arise, take up your bed and go," and the man was healed. Now that was easy to do, but it was very hard to say because when you say to a paralytic "get up and walk" everybody immediately knows it is put-up- or shut-up time by whether or not the person gets up and walks. So it's a very hard thing to say, and yet for Jesus it was an easy thing to do.

But now let's turn it around and let me ask you this question. Which was easier for Jesus to do, to forgive this man's soul or to heal this man's body? You see, it is easy for anybody to say "your sins are forgiven you" because nobody can tell whether or not that has actually taken place. But what was easy to say for Jesus was the hardest thing to do. Providing this man with health only took one word from Jesus. But to provide this man with Heaven took his life.

To heal that man's body took a simple command; to forgive that man's sins took Jesus' blood. The first was done in the house of friends; the second was done on a hill with thieves. One took a word, the other took His body; one took a moment, the other took His life.

That is why God gets excited over a forgiveness that saves, because of what it cost Him and what it cost His Son.

Forgiveness is the greatest miracle that Jesus ever performs. It meets the greatest need that mankind ever has. It costs the greatest price that God could ever pay, and it brings the greatest blessing the world can ever receive.

Jim Bakker is a name that will live in spiritual infamy. He literally went from the penthouse to the outhouse. He went from being a spiritual hero to being a spiritual zero. He tells the story of how he was in prison and had lost everything-his wife, his ministry, his reputation, and he spoke of a dismal day in prison when everything seemed dark.

He was doing the job he had been assigned to do in that prison, which was cleaning the toilets. While he was down on his knees scrubbing toilets, he was told that a guest had come to see him. He looked at himself in that unpleasant clothing, with a day old beard, disheveled hair, a gaunt look, and he wondered if he could really go and meet anybody. But God had broken him. Recognizing his true state, that this is exactly what he had descended to, he went to that little meeting room to meet his guest.

You can imagine the shock on his face when he walked into that room and there stood Billy Graham. Without a word, Billy Graham reached out to him and hugged him.

Here were two men: one man who over a lifetime is probably admired by more people than any other man who perhaps has ever lived in the history of the world, outside of Jesus Himself; a man who had avoided the seduction of money and sensuality that had caved in the empire of Jim Bakker.

Here was another man who had received unbelievable anger and bitterness from a public whose trust he had betrayed. But the greater point is this: The grace of Dr. Graham's forgiveness was only an outflow of the grace he himself has enjoyed, and that each one of us enjoys when we, too, come to Jesus for forgiveness. You know what really excites God?

When we seek forgiveness.

When we share forgiveness.

When we show forgiveness.

And, this is something we can all do together.