We’re in the middle of a series of messages on “Hope”, specifically, how we receive hope. Hope realized is an incredible joy, but there is a process to receive hope. This week we confirm three important requirements for receiving hope but add an important twist! All that is found in the story of a paraplegic.
Last week we talked about Hope, and that if you’re going to realize it, receive it, and find its fulfillment, it’ll require three things of you:
All Hope has Jesus Christ the Lord as its center and origin.
This week we’ll add in another essential part of what Hope does. Hope always hires help. Here’s this week’s example story from Luke 5.17-26:
17 Now it happened on a certain day, as He was teaching, that there were Pharisees and teachers of the law sitting by, who had come out of every town of Galilee, Judea, and Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was present to heal them. 18 Then behold, men brought on a bed a man who was paralyzed, whom they sought to bring in and lay before Him. 19 And when they could not find how they might bring him in, because of the crowd, they went up on the housetop and let him down with his bed through the tiling into the midst before Jesus. 20 When He saw their faith, He said to him, “Man, your sins are forgiven you.”
21 And the scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, “Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?”
22 But when Jesus perceived their thoughts, He answered and said to them, “Why are you reasoning in your hearts? 23 Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Rise up and walk’?
24 But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins”—He said to the man who was paralyzed, “I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.”
25 Immediately he rose up before them, took up what he had been lying on, and departed to his own house, glorifying God. 26 And they were all amazed, and they glorified God and were filled with fear, saying, “We have seen strange things today!”
Here was a paralyzed man who had at least four, four that we know of, friends. They were convinced that the only hope this man had was Jesus. They probably knew this paralyzed man before and after his paralysis. They knew him before and after whatever caused the paralysis. Were they neighborhood friends, childhood friends, work friends? How did it happen? We just don’t know. An accident working? A disease? A runaway cart? Maybe they were cat burglars and he was injured that way? Maybe they were roofers? How ironic would that have been?
It doesn’t matter. He couldn’t move. He was paralyzed, and we assume was a paraplegic.
Before you start thinking that his situation doesn’t pertain to you, think about this. Have you ever been through something and you were frozen in some way? A shocking event. A terrible something. A considerable loss. A crime committed. Parents breakup and divorce? Sometimes people get stuck. At that age or stage of life. Or they can’t get past the awful. And it defines them.
This man, with no name, is illustrative. No name, just his frozen, immovable condition. “The Paralytic”.
This was another impossible situation. But we see that hope, once again, has three important requirements, but this time with a twist.
Again, we see that hope was in a Person. They took Jesus to the house where He was ministering and teaching. They heard about Him and they said “If we can only get him in front of Jesus”.
Getting there was a chore. First of all, he was a man on a mat. It was probably more like a rug or a sheepskin. There was no city bus, taxi or pick up truck. They walked. Then when they got there, the crowd. A “hey, there’s a Chik-Fil-A opening in Greece, crowd. Loads of people, acting as obstacles between them and Jesus. Not polite, move aside people either. They didn’t make way. It wasn’t going to happen. Don’t know whose bright idea it was, but someone said, Hey, let’s haul him up on the roof. How hard and dangerous was that? Did the paralyzed guy have any say in this? Don’t drop me!
You can tell that there were no women among these four friends. Because they may not have thought through all the problems this presented. They probably thought, “Ah, we’ll just figure it out when we get up there.”
Roofs are noisy when four people are tromping on them, and they’re dangerous. Okay, Jesus should be standing around under here. So they took the obstacle out of the way. Removing the tiling may have simply been removing the packed clay over a bed of closely piled sticks. But no matter what, Jesus and the folks packed inside the house had to have gotten some mess falling down around them. That opened up some space.
It was attention getting. It was very messy. It cleared out a spot for the man. Then he was lowered by ropes. Sort of hammock/gunny sack style. You’ve got to give it to the friends.
Hope is humbling. It requires humility.
All the friends were doing at this point was high fiving each other and smiling down through the hole in the roof. The man, he was lying in a pitiful lump on the floor in front of Jesus and all these people. Once again, Jesus talked to this man like he was a person. But the religious treated him as an impersonal test case.
Jesus said “Your sins are forgiven you”. The religious thought, how can anyone but God say that? Implying that He wasn’t God. But He is.
Did this man have tears from the free forgiveness of Jesus? For sure. But in answer to the religious questioning, He said, “Look, which is easier, forgiveness or healing?” “To show I can do the harder thing I’ll do the amazing lesser thing. I’m going to be this man’s hope.
And then we see that receiving Hope requires a third thing. Obedience.
Jesus basically says, “Okay, the rug was carrying you. Now, stand up, carry that rug under your arm and go home.” And the man did.
So what is the twist here that I was talking about?
You need others in order to realize Hope.
This guy didn’t have the ability to receive Hope alone. He couldn’t move, he couldn’t get to Jesus or humble himself or obey.
It says that Jesus saw “their” faith. Did that include the man? And then He healed him. Hope hires a staff and then delegates.
If one is in need of Hope, and of course, hope isn’t a wish, its a real expectation with a real fulfillment, you’ll need to be open to others. How can we do this?