Mark: Roof in Need of Repair!

Sermon by Derek Thomas on February 22, 2004

Mark 2:1-12

Mark 2:1-12
Roof in Need of Repair

Dr. Derek Thomas

Now turn with me to the gospel of Mark and chapter 2.
We’re going to read together verses 1-12. And before we do so, let’s come
before God and ask the Holy Spirit for His work of illumination that we might
not just be readers of the word, but that we might understand what it is He has
caused to be written. Let’s pray together.

Lord our God, we bow again in
Your presence. We ask now that by Your Spirit You would cause this word, this
word in the gospel of Mark to be opened up. Come, Holy Spirit, and help us to
understand this word. Write it upon our hearts. May the meditations of my
mouth be acceptable to You. May, O Lord, all that we do in this hour this
evening be of glory to You. And this we ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.
hear the word of God.

Mark 2:1-12:

1 And when He had come back to
Capernaum several days afterward, it was heard that he was at home. 2 And
many were gathered together, so that there was no longer room, even near the
door; and He was speaking the word to them. 3 And they came, bringing to
Him a paralytic, carried by four men. 4 And being unable to get to Him
because of the crowd, they removed the roof above Him; and when they had dug an
opening, they let down the pallet on which the paralytic was lying. 5 And
Jesus seeing their faith said to the paralytic, “My son,
your sins are forgiven.” 6 But there were some of the scribes
sitting there and reasoning in their hearts, 7 “Why does this man speak
that way? He is blaspheming; who can forgive sins but God alone?” 8 And
immediately Jesus, aware in His spirit that they were reasoning that way within
themselves, said to them, “Why are you reasoning about
these things in your hearts? 9 “Which is
easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven’; or to say, ‘Arise,
and take up your pallet and walk’? 10 But
in order that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive
sins, [He said to the paralytic] 11 I say
to you, Rise, take up your pallet and go home.” 12 And he rose and
immediately took up the pallet and went out in the sight of all; so that they
were all amazed and were glorifying God, saying, “We have never seen anything
like this.”

Amen. May God bless to us the
reading of His holy and inerrant word.

This is a text about missions. This is a story of
four men, at least four men, who are bringing someone else to Jesus. That’s
what missions is, bringing people to know and understand and comprehend and to
exercise faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus seems now to be living in Capernaum,
following the incident of the cleansing of the leper. In his disobedience he
had not headed Jesus’ warning not to tell anyone. He told everyone and,
consequently, Jesus has to go away. And He’s been gone and He was in desolate
places; now He’s returned to Capernaum, and in the words of the first verse, “He
was at home.”

Isn’t that an extraordinary little phrase? Because
Jesus’ home would have been in Nazareth some distance away to the west. So
whose home was He in? He evidently had taken up residence in Capernaum on the
short, northeast shore of the Sea of Galilee. It’s probably Simon Peter’s
house. Crowds have gathered and they’ve gathered at the house. They are at the
door. Jesus seems to be preaching, teaching from inside the house. The place
is packed with people. It’s impossible to get in or out. A miracle is about to
occur. There’s a man, a paralytic. I need to explain perhaps that it means
that “he cannot walk.” Not that he’s drunk or something, but he cannot walk.
They want Jesus to heal him. Maybe they are close friends, but they can’t get
into the house. It takes four men to carry him on a pallet, a stretcher, a bed
of some kind. So they climb onto the roof of the house, and they begin to take
away the roofing material in order to lower him down into the room where Jesus
was. All kinds of questions come to mind. What kind of roof was this?
Normally houses were single-story with flat roofs. People sometimes slept on
the roof of the house when they celebrated Tabernacles. Very often for a week
they would have booths on the top of their houses. It was enormous fun,
especially for children. It would have been made of some kind of, I don’t know,
there are engineers right in front of me, so I’m nervous now, but they would
have been made of some kind of wooden beams and plastered in some way with a
mud, clay sort of mixture. It wasn’t much of a roof for sure.

Whose house was it? Probably Simon Peter’s.
There’s a Mrs. Simon somewhere and I’m sure she has something to say about
this. How could Jesus continue to preach with all of this noise up above Him?
Suddenly there’s a shaft of sunlight; there’s a hole in the roof. Mud is
falling down. People are moving away now from perhaps, now, the center of the
room. Bits of material, mud clay are falling down onto the floor. Suddenly the
hole is enormous and a bed, a pallet of some kind, a stretcher is being lowered
down. And this man, this paralytic is lying there, and looking up you can see
faces in the hole in the roof silhouetted against the light of the sun, perhaps,
peering down. And Mrs. Peter is looking for the State Farm Insurance policy.
Some words are exchanged. It seems to take many of them by complete surprise
what it is Jesus says to this man. Then Jesus heals him. It’s instant. It’s
sudden. He rises; he folds up his bed in some way, and he walks out in the
sight of them all and goes to his home. It’s a miracle! When Peter on the day
of Pentecost in Acts chapter 2 in verse 22, is talking about miracles he
categorizes miracles by using three different terms. He says, “Jesus the
Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which
God performed through Him.” Miracles, wonders, and signs. I want us to use
that three-fold categorization in order to expound what it is that’s happening
in this miracle.

I. This miracle is a word of power.

First of all, it’s a miracle. It’s a word of
power. It’s a display of power on Jesus’ part. There is immediate, creative,
power in Jesus’ words. This man, he rises; he gets up by the word of Christ.
He takes up his bed and he walks. Note that in verse 5 Jesus takes note of
their faith, the faith of the men who brought this man. That’s what he sees.
He sees their faith. They believed, they believed in Jesus’ power. It was a
reality; Jesus could see it. They had certain convictions about Jesus, about
His power, about His willingness, about what His reaction would be to them doing
this. They had faith. Jesus sees that faith. Faith always starts there with
convictions, but it’s more than that. They acted upon their faith. It
was a faith that worked. It resulted in them doing something. Nothing
was going to deter them. They overcame obstacles in order to get to Jesus. It
was a faith that persevered like Jacob saying, “I will not let you go until you
bless me.” That was the kind of faith these men had. They are to carry him
there, through the crowd, and then seeing the obstacle, the difficulty–they
couldn’t get into the house, perhaps hundreds of people there milling around the
outside of the house. So they, they have this idea, this scatterbrained idea.
‘Let’s climb onto the roof of the house.’ Maybe there were some people up there
already. And then they begin to demolish the roof. Imagine it. Imagine that
kind of determination, that kind of grit to their faith. They dig their way
into the house. They must see Jesus, and they’re bringing someone else to

Their concern
is about someone else. This is a missionary story. How good it is to have
friends who want to bring you to Jesus. Throughout all my school days as a high
school boy, I had one close friend: Richard. I suppose we were friends from the
age of 11 up until this point. The time I want to tell you about is when I was
18. For seven years he’d been my closest friend. We had spent many hours,
many, many hours together. We were both passionately, obsessively interested in
classical music. It was he who gave me a copy of John Stott’s,
Basic Christianity, in the fall of 1971. I was
a complete pagan. I’d never been to church. I didn’t possess a Bible, made
absolutely no profession of being a Christian whatsoever. I was completely
antithetical to all of it, but it was this friend, his perseverance, writing me
letters, saying I must read this book.

Mark doesn’t
tell us who these men were. He doesn’t give us their names, and the story is
repeated in Matthew and it’s repeated in Luke, and they don’t tell you either.
Their labors, and what labors these are, their labors go unsung, like that man
who preached in that little chapel in, was it Colchester, on one snowy winter’s
evening And a young, young man, a teenager named Charles Haddon Spurgeon,
actually on his way to another church but because of the snowstorm pulls into
this church. There’s hardly anybody there. He wasn’t a great preacher.
Spurgeon says he only had one thing to say, and he repeated it again and again
and again. And what was it that he said? “Look to Christ and be saved.” That
was his text. And he kept on repeating it and Spurgeon was converted; he was
brought to Christ. There’s a point at which this man, whoever he was, pointed
to Spurgeon who was sitting up in the gallery and addressed him, challenged him
to come to Jesus Christ, and he came. He was going to be an instrument in the
conversion of thousands of people. but we don’t know who this man was. Spurgeon
never discovered who this man was.

There’s a
little incident I put it in the bulletin that Ernie Reisinger. Many of your
know Ernie Reisinger, a Reformed Baptist minister now retired, living in
Florida. A biography of his life has just been written and published, and
there’s a wonderful little thing in the notes about a friend of his called
Wilmer who kept on inviting him to come to church, and he wouldn’t come. And
Wilmer’s wife when he finally did come, said, “So you are Ernie Reisinger,”
because every night her husband would come home and the dinner would be on the
table, but he would go to the bedroom, and he would get on his knees, and he’d
begin to pray for Ernie Reisinger that he would come to church and hear the
gospel. And when Mrs. Wilmer first met Ernie Reisinger she said to him, “I’ve
been praying that you’d either leave or you’d be converted.” And, of course, he
was converted.

These are men
who do for others what they cannot do for themselves: they bring this man and
they bring him to Jesus. And that’s what evangelism and that’s what missions
is all about: It’s one poor sinner telling another poor sinner where he might
get bread
. They bring him to someone who invariably demonstrated that He
had authority and power. And Jesus speaks to this man and without any
incantations and no agonizing and no wrestling, just a word of command to rise,
to get up, and to take up his bed, and to go home. And Jesus sees their faith.
He sees their faith. What is it that sends Tim and Sara Horn to England, to
? It’s not the wonder of British culture, though there are some
wonders. It’s this: there’s a heart that’s concerned for the souls of others.
What is it that sends the Bradfords to Peru? It’s this. What is it that sends
the Robertsons to Malawi and to Africa? It’s this. What is it that sends John
Wagner to Scotland or Bonnie Dolan to Zambia or the Chedids to work amongst
Arabs? It’s this. They want to bring others to Jesus. That’s what missions is
all about. Oh, for a heart…oh, for a heart like these men, whoever they were.
We get so caught up in the miracle, and there’s an extraordinary miracle here,
but think about these men. They brought this man to Jesus and they were
prepared to stop at nothing. I don’t know how you would feel if you were Mrs.
Peter with a hole in your roof. I think Mrs. Peter rejoiced that day at the
conversion of this man whose sins were forgiven.

This miracle is a sign.
It’s a word of power,
but it’s also, in the second place, a sign. It’s a sign. All of Jesus’
miracles are signs, signs of something deeper, something more profound than a
mere miracle of healing. What was Jesus doing in Capernaum? Verse 2, “He was
preaching the word to them”…He was speaking the word to them. And what was the
content of Jesus’ preaching and teaching? Well, we’ve already seen in chapter
one, verse 15 that the time was fulfilled and the kingdom of God is at hand.
“Repent and believe the gospel.” That’s Jesus’ preaching: “Repent and believe
the gospel.” And this miracle is a sign; it’s a visible demonstration of Jesus’
word. The kingdom has come; the King is here; the Lord of glory has become
. Those…in the words of the 2nd Psalm that we were
thinking of this morning, that glorious missionary Psalm, in the donation of the
Father to the Son before the foundation of the world, the Son the Messiah has
come now to claim His prize, to gather His trophy.

These miracles
are the royal insignia of who He is and it’s what Jesus said that got them.
“Your sins are forgiven,” He said. “Your sins are forgiven.” It astonished the
multitude. And the Jewish leaders especially were terribly annoyed that Jesus
would utter these words, “Your sins are forgiven.” It was wholly unexpected.
It’s not remotely what they thought Jesus would say. What they wanted was for
Jesus to heal this man, which of course He did.

But Jesus,
first of all, talks about sin. That was His first point of concerns, sin.
That’s the fundamental issue, sin, and it needs to be dealt with
. That
extraordinary first sentence in J.C. Ryle’s Holiness chapter 1, “Sin. He
that would make strides in holiness must first consider the greatness of sin.”
That’s not a way to start a book, by the way. It’s the fundamental thing. It’s
what Anselm, Anselm of Canterbury, in Cur Deus Homo1 has a
character called Bozo. He’s trying to argue for the incarnation. Why did Jesus
have to become flesh? Why did Jesus have to become man? And Bozo can’t get
it. And the reason he can’t get it is because you have not yet considered the
weightiness, the gravity of sin. It’s because of sin that Jesus has to become
incarnate. It’s because of sin that Messiah must come. Maybe you think this is
a disappointing word from Jesus, “Your sins are forgiven.” This man is sick and
needs to be healed, and maybe you’re a tad disappointed that Jesus wouldn’t heal
him first and then perhaps speak to him about sin if He must. But He speaks
to him about sin first, before He heals him, because that’s his primary need,
you see
. Because even though Jesus is going to heal him of this malady, he
will get sick again and one day he will die as we all will, every one of us
here. With exception unless Jesus comes again, every one of us is going to
die. We may be delivered from this sickness or that sickness through an
intervention of the sovereignty of God or through the means of the skill of
physicians but one way or another, we are all going to die, everyone of us.
We’re all heading for the grave. We’re all heading for that day of the
disillusion of body and soul. And, you see, the primary thing is not the
healing of the body. It’s not the primary thing. It’s not the main thing.
It’s not the most important thing. The most important thing is my
relationship with God. The most important thing is eternal life. How can I
come into the presence of Almighty God? How can I come into the presence of a
holy and a righteous God?

You know, you
remember Hamlet, that famous soliloquy, “To be or not to be? That is the
question.” In the movie Lawrence Olivia plays the part of Hamlet, and he’s the
prince of Denmark, and he’s holding a dagger. He’s utterly miserable; he’s
contemplating ending it all and he hesitates. He’s on the battlements of a
castle somewhere in Denmark, and he hesitates because, What if death is like
sleep? What if death is like sleep and in that sleep there are dreams? And
what if those dreams will haunt you for all eternity forever and ever? What if
death is some kind of wretched, eternal nightmare with phantoms of guilt
pursuing you forever? “Conscience doth make cowards of us all,” he says. And
Olivia drops the dagger at that point. He’s scared to die. He cannot live, but
he’s scared to die because he doesn’t know what’s going to happen after death.
He doesn’t know what he’s to do with his sins and with his guilt. That’s the
issue. That’s the fundamental issue. That’s the most important issue of all.

If I were to
come into the presence of almighty God, if I am to live as long as God Himself
lives, I need my sins to be forgiven and that’s the great question.
can my sins be forgiven? My friend, do you know the answer to that? How can my
sins be forgiven?
By faith alone in Jesus Christ alone. “Nothing in
my hands I bring.” This paralytic had nothing…he had nothing to offer. And
Jesus didn’t take any offering from him. He just said, “Your sins are
forgiven.” He came to Jesus in faith with nothing in His hands. “I dare not
trust the sweetest frame but holy lean on Jesus’ name.” “On Christ, the solid
rock, I stand. All other ground is sinking sand.” That’s why Jesus’ says to
the man, “Your sins are forgiven you.”

But the Jews
got it, you see. They got it. They understood it. That’s the tragedy in some
ways because no one can forgive sin except God. So in uttering these words,
Jesus was claiming to be God. They got it. They accused Him of blasphemy. of
course. It’s the beginning of the journey that lead inexorably to Jerusalem and
to His crucifixion and desertion upon the Cross. And He says to them, “Which is
easier, to say ‘Your sins are forgiven’ or to say ‘Rise, take up your bed and
walk and go home’?” And He says to this man, “Rise, take up your bed and go
home.” And immediately it happened, immediately. It’s a word of power. It’s a
sign of Jesus’ deity and kingship and royalty and power over all the forces of

This miracle is a wonder.
But it’s also a wonder.
It’s a wonder. Do you see their reaction in verse 12? They were all amazed
or fearful or filled with awe or whatever it is your translation
may have, but, “They were amazed and they worshiped God.” Missions isn’t the
prime thing. You’ve heard John Piper say this, and if you haven’t I don’t know
where you have been, “Worship is the main thing.” Missions exists because
worship doesn’t exist
.” This man is brought to faith and he’s healed as a
sign of the insignia of royalty in King Jesus, and they see something now that
they’ve never seen before. ‘We’ve never seen anything like this!’ Ah, they’d
seen some things, I’m sure, but you’ve never seen anything like Jesus, because
you can’t put Him into categories. You can’t put Him into a pigeonhole and say,
“Well, that’s Jesus,” because He defies categorization, because although he is a
man, and he’s a real man a man of flesh and blood, there’s something far more to
Him. And there’s a sense, inn the words of Lewis, there’s a sense in which “The
One that was born in the stable in Bethlehem is bigger than the whole world.”2

And it’s one of those awe-inspiring moments when
they’re conscious of being in the presence of the supernatural. When they are
conscious of being in the presence of the transcendence of Jesus, that there is
something more to this person, that He truly is the Lord, God, the Son of God,
the Divine Messiah who God had sent into this world. What they’re giving
expression to, my friends, is that this is no ordinary man: He’s the Son of God;
He’s the Lord of glory! “I stand amazed in the presence of Jesus the Nazarene
and wonder how He could love me a sinner condemned, unclean. How marvelous!
How wonderful! And this my song shall ever be. How marvelous! How wonderful is
my Savior’s love to me!” My friends, can you say that tonight? Can you sing
those words tonight? “How marvelous! How wonderful is my Savior’s love to
me.” May God write this word upon our hearts for His name’s sake. Let’s pray

Our God and our Father, we
thank You for this glimpse of the beauty and glory and transcendence of our
Savior. Give us each one a glimpse of it. To any here tonight who may be a
stranger to grace, who’s sins are uncovered, and who have no peace–come, O Lord,
by Your gracious Spirit and draw them to Christ this Mission’s Week that they
might behold His loveliness and attractiveness and beauty and gentleness, to
know the joy of sins forgiven and peace with yourself, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.

Please stand and receive the Lord’s benediction. Grace,
mercy, and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.

  1. Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1100 A.D.) in his work on the
    atonement, Cur Deus Homo? [Why did God become Man?]
    (1098) uses his pupil, Bozo, to attack the idea in patristic theology that
    through the fall Satan had obtained just rights over man and that the death of
    Christ was a ransom paid to the Devil. His argument is set forth in the form
    of a dialogue between Anselm and his pupil, Bozo, in which Bozo raises the
    questions frequently posed by unbelievers and Anselm answers them. The basic
    question which Bozo poses and which Anselm seeks to answer is that which
    relates to the necessity and reason for the atonement.
  2. In The Last Battle, the last of The Chronicles
    of Narnia
    by C.S. Lewis, we read this: “It seems then,” said Tirian, …
    “that the Stable seen from within and the Stable seen from without are two
    different places.” “Yes,” said Lord Digory. “Its inside is bigger than its
    outside.” “Yes,” said Queen Lucy. “In our world too, a Stable once had
    something inside it that was bigger than our whole world.”
    C.S. Lewis, The
    Last Battle, Book 7 of the Chronicles of Narnia.

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