Fishers of Men
February 13, 2022 | Who's your one? | Fishers of Men| Mark 2:1-12
To listen to the sermon audio click here
(Adapted from the NAMB Who’s Your One campaign.)
Last week we looked at the call of Jesus to follow Him. This week, we want to look a little deeper at the implications of the statement Jesus makes, when he says, I will make you fishers of men.
If we are committed to reaching our one, and others for Christ, what would it look like if we truly began to fish for them?
See, it's really easy to get caught up in the idea of missions without taking our role in the mission seriously. We get excited about a program our church is doing, or we get excited about seeing God use other people to bring people to Jesus, and we celebrate, and we cheer, and we forget that we are called to be about that work as well.
Think about it this way. Today, around 70,000 spectators will watch the Superbowl live in Los Angeles, another 100 million or more people domestically will watch it on television or streaming.
Over 100 million spectators, cheerleaders, fans, and at the very most today, if everyone that is dressed out plays at least once, 92 men will play a part in the game. Most likely it will be a lot less than that.
There will be thousands that put on jerseys to look like they are on the team, 70 thousand that gather around in close enough proximity to the game to witness it, there will be thousands of others that will talk about how they would do it, or what those guys should or could have done from the comfort of their own living rooms, professional analyzers will break down plays, and critics will talk down players, cheerleaders and fans will yell and celebrate for their team, and some weep and cry when their team loses. And for all that, it will come down to a handful of men and most likely a handful of plays.
That may be okay for football, but it makes a horrible plan for the church reaching the lost.
The church doesn’t need spectators, fans, or cheerleaders, it needs disciples who understand their mission to make disciples. So if we are going to get serious about this call, we are going to have to understand what it means to be fishers of men. Shortly after calling Andrew, Peter, James, and John, and before he calls Levi or as he is commonly and later called, Matthew, we find an encounter that illustrates how we can be efficient in bringing people to Jesus.
My prayer is that, as we read this passage, the Holy Spirit would begin to put on our hearts a burden, a passion, for the one.
Mark 2:1-12 (ESV) 1 And when he returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. 2 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. 3 And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. 4 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. 5 And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” 6 Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, 7 “Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” 8 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? 9 Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk’? 10 But 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, pick up your bed, and go home.” 12 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!”
There’s a lot to unpack here, so I want to walk you through four statements concerning these men who brought this paralytic to Jesus. Four statements.
THESE MEN HAD AN URGENT MISSION
Mission drives us, doesn’t it? It drives us as individuals, as families, as businesses, and it also drives our culture. Over the last couple of years, I’ve seen a rise in family mission statement signs. You’ve probably seen them.
They say something like in this family we do hugs, we do second chances, we do honesty, we do forgiveness, we do laughter, we do real, we do fun, we do love, we do family, The Cutlers.
There are a million variations, has anyone seen these?
Maybe yours is a little older and a little simpler, it says something like live, laugh, love or something equally cheesy! No offense if you have that sign.
We hang them in our homes because it is a picture of what we want our family to be. You have a mission statement for your family. My family went a little more practical, this is the sign, in our home.
Mission statements define us, they drive us, they give us direction.
We develop mission statements to help keep us on the course, for our families, our companies, our churches. When we get off course from our stated mission, it helps get us back on track because it defines the basics and essentials. For example, here are a few popular companies’ mission statements.
INSTAGRAM: To capture and share the world’s moments.
FACEBOOK: Our full mission statement is: give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together.
GOOGLE- “To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”
I highlight these three because each one of these companies has the resources, financially, creatively, and labor force to do a billion different, even good and valuable things, but these mission statements keep the company pursuing, not just the good things, but the best things to fulfill their mission.
I think mission statements are good and necessary. I mentioned months ago that every church ought to have a well-defined mission statement and one of the things our leadership is focusing on this year.
Whenever we get off course, our mission statement reminds us of where we are supposed to be headed and what we are supposed to be doing.
You say, Pastor, that’s business and this is church! I understand if that is your reaction, but listen, even Jesus had a mission statement. He said it was to…
“For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10, CSB).
You can quickly and easily see how this was the driving force behind all that he did and the things he wouldn’t do.
James and John wanted to call down thunder from heaven to destroy a village that didn’t welcome them, Jesus turns and rebukes them. When Peter tries to rebuke Jesus after he stated how he would fulfill his mission by dying, Jesus told Peter to get behind him Satan. When the people tried to forcefully take Jesus and make them their king, he slipped out, because that wasn’t his mission.
What was the driving mission for the men in this passage? What was their vision? What was the thing that they were hoping for? I would say that these men (at least 4) had an urgent mission, a defining mission that drove them to this place of desperation.
To get this man, who was paralyzed, to Jesus. It drove them to carry him however far their journey was, it drove them to seek out and find Jesus, and it drove them, as we see, to do whatever it took to make it happen.
Here are some questions to consider as we think about this story.
• What drives you? What’s your driving mission?
• What are the things that move you? Is there anything you are eagerly expecting God to do?
If we are disciples then why not let the mission of our master drive us? That God would use us to seek out and save the lost?
But listen, these men didn’t just have a mission…
THESE MEN HAD AN EAGER EXPECTATION
They actually believed that Jesus could heal this man.
Think about that for a moment. Paralyzed people don’t usually recover, right? Whether this man had been born this way or something had happened, up until these men had heard about what Jesus was doing throughout Galilee, he was hopeless.
Then, maybe first there were some rumors. There was a teacher who had commanded an unclean spirit out of a man in front of everyone in a local synagogue. Then someone maybe shared that they had heard that he was healing people with all kinds of sicknesses and casting out demons when he taught in the synagogues or in homes. Synagogue after synagogue, little town after little town the buzz begins to grow in the area of Galilee, there is a man who teaches and heals, unlike anyone they had heard of. Then the news begins to travel that this man even completely healed a leper by touching him. This is crazy.
We don’t know who had the idea first. The men or the paralytic, but someone gets the idea that maybe this Jesus of Nazareth could even do something for a paralyzed man.
You can imagine, as word reaches them that Jesus has stopped in a town close enough for them to get to, their excitement building. The belief that Jesus can be the answer to this man’s problems and so they eagerly make their way to Jesus, hopeful, expectant.
They took a risk because of the mission. What if Jesus said no? What if healing a paralytic was beyond his power, what if he wouldn’t see them? But they stepped out in faith because their mission demanded that they get to Jesus and the expected that when they did, just maybe, Jesus could and would heal their friend.
This is what we find throughout scripture.
Mission plus faith in God equals movement full of eager expectation.
This is true of men and women throughout the Bible (e.g., David facing Goliath, Joshua leading the Israelites to march around Jericho, or Elijah on Mt. Carmel facing the prophets of Baal).
Hebrews 11 is full of stories where the characters believed God would do what he said so, they eagerly expected him to, that it radically altered their lives. It goes on to say, these died, before they saw the greatest promise and work of God in sending his Savior and yet they did not stop eagerly expecting God to do what he had said he would do.
We now live on the other side of Jesus’ work on the cross and through the empty tomb. How much greater should our expectations be?
How much more should we be willing to move with eager expectation?
So why don’t we? I think because we don’t like taking the necessary risks. Do we?
What if I bring up Jesus and they get angry about it? What if I bring up Jesus and they ask questions I don't know the answers to? What if they reject me? What if it costs me that promotion? What if those friends talk about me behind my back? What if I take that job where I feel God calling me but it’s less money? What if I volunteer for that thing God is speaking on my heart and I fail?
But what if, God saves your friend? What if God puts you in a mission field for his glory? What if God uses you to change the culture of your workplace, your school, your neighborhood? What if we just got our one to Jesus? Couldn’t he? Wouldn’t he? Radically impact their life for eternity.
Eager expectation says, yes he can, yes he will, because he did it to me and he says he will do it for them. Right?
• Do you have an eager expectation of someone coming to faith?
• Does your eager expectation move you to action?
• Are you willing to take risks to see men and women saved?
These men had a mission that moved them, they had an eager expectation that Jesus could heal this guy, and…
THESE MEN HAD AN UNYIELDING RESOLVE
Because of the crowd, there was no way to get to Jesus. They hit a pretty significant obstacle.
They can’t get to Jesus. (doors, windows, crowds)
We all know what that’s like, right? We are cruising along, doing what we think we should be doing and bam, all of a sudden there doesn’t seem to be a way forward. Does this ever happen to you? You talk yourself up, I’m going to share Jesus with my friend, my co-worker, my neighbor and you get yourself all prepared, and bam, something happens that just shuts you down. You don’t see them that day, you get overrun with work, someone gets sick, etc… I’m going to start a bible study, I’m going to go on a mission trip, I’m going to volunteer at the shelter and bam. What feels like a closed door.
At this point, many of us give up. We throw up the white flag of surrender. There’s no way in—or so it seems.
Here’s the thing that struck me right in the gut this week. When this happens, we usually try and Christianize it, don't we? ‘Lord, this must not be the way.’ Or ‘I guess this isn’t what the Lord wants me to do?’
Jason Gaston, a pastor at Summit Church, said it like this, “for most of us, an open door is just Christianese for the path of least resistance. Open door terminology for most of us is, “Lord, we’ll walk through that open door because it seems easy.”
Right, we assume that an open door is equal to the path of least resistance. I’ve had well-meaning people tell me that if it’s what God wants, then the doors will open. What are they saying? It will be easy.
Have you been guilty of this thinking before?
I would argue it’s pretty common and ingrained in the church, but is it biblical?
Imagine for a moment if the apostle Paul would have only walked through open doors? Half of the New Testament would have never been written. Flogged, beaten, thrown in prison, shipwrecked. Does any of that sound like an open door? Paul- God is leading me to Rome, Christians, Paul don’t go to Rome, they’re going to kill you. Stop after stop on his way to Rome, Christians were prophesying that this would happen. Paul said, you are probably right, but I’m going to go anyway.
Listen, sometimes where there’s a closed door, you need to dig a hole in the roof. Sometimes you need to improvise and find another way to get someone to the feet of Jesus. Sometimes you got to kick the door open and not just give up and say, “Oh, must be a closed door. God doesn't want us to go this way”
These men encountered ths closed door, but because their hope and belief were so strong, they kicked open that closed door, they took the risk, and they got their friend in front of Jesus.
We are going to need this kind of unyielding resolve as we try to follow Jesus, as we try to share Jesus with our one. You are absolutely going to encounter obstacles in the way, but don’t surrender because there’s an obstacle there. Sometimes you have to dig a hole in the roof, right?
• What are some obstacles that have derailed you from the mission?
• What would it look like for you to dig a hole in the roof in your current situation?
So these men dig a hole in the roof of this place and let this man and his bed down into the place Jesus is and because of that…
THESE MEN HAD AN ASTONISHING ENCOUNTER
They get this man to Jesus, they fulfilled their mission, they are eagerly expecting something to happen, they have brazenly overcome the obstacles, and Jesus, when he saw their faith, shocks everyone when he says, (ESV) “Son, your sins are forgiven.”
I can’t imagine what these men were thinking, or even this paralytic. I mean they thought his primary need was external, physical, right? I mean, they brought him here, hoping that Jesus would heal him, and Jesus, seemingly ignoring his physical condition, speaks to his spiritual one.
Here is the wonderful thing about this passage. I think Jesus knows exactly what he is doing here. In this day and time, the common assumption is that for someone to end up like this, it was a result of sin.
This is clearly evident in John 9:1-2 (ESV) 1 As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
This was evidently the common thought of the day with the implication that this man or his parents must have had a large amount of sin for this to have happened to him.
So Jesus doesn’t address the obvious physical problem, he doesn’t do what the men expected or even the paralytic may have hoped, he goes to the heart. Everyone there, the man included, most likely thought this was evidence of some sin, so Jesus addresses the unspoken need first.
Son, your sins are forgiven.
The religious leaders, the scribes, and Pharisees are shocked. They are all thinking, this guy just blasphemed, but no one wants to be the first one to say anything, so they are all sitting there thinking, who does this guy think he is? Why didn’t he just heal this man and get back to his teaching, right?
This whole thing just got real messy. Here’s where I say, I think Jesus knew exactly what he was doing. He knew what they all thought about this man’s condition, he knew what everyone was expecting him to do, and he knew that they would miss why he was really here if he started there.
So Jesus pronounces this man’s sin forgiven and the religious leaders are astonished. Jesus, being Jesus, knows what they are all thinking. The Bible says he was perceived in His spirit.
This is where he has them right where he wants them.
Mark 2:8-11 (ESV) “Why do you question these things in your hearts? 9 Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk’? 10 But 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, pick up your bed, and go home.”
In four short sentences, Jesus brings home the point. This man’s greatest need is the forgiveness of sins, and I have the authority and power to do so, but because you can’t see that, I will prove it by doing the impossible and making this paralytic walk, so get up, grab your bed, and walk. What’s the implication? If you believed that sin made him paralyzed, then if he is walking by you now, carrying his bed, he must be forgiven.
The beautiful thing about this passage is this. I love the order that takes place here, and it’s true of Jesus in all of His ministry. These guys thought their friend needed to walk. The external circumstance was the most important thing. What Jesus looked at was the man’s internal posture. What did He say first to them? “Son, friend, your sins are forgiven. And then, “Take up your mat and walk.” Listen, the greatest need that you and I have, the greatest need that the one has, the greatest need is not an external change, but a heart change.
Don’t settle for the mundane when Jesus wants the miraculous. People thought the primary need was external. What Jesus did in this passage is true for everyone. He shows us that the greatest need is an internal posture of the heart that needs to be changed.
Does your friend, co-worker, child, spouse, your one need to get their life together, quit their destructive behavior, do they need to be a better husband, wife, employee. Sure, maybe, but what they need more than any of that is to have their heart changed by Jesus.
I love this picture, Jesus changed the inside (you are forgiven) and then changed the outside (get up and walk) to match. That’s a picture of what the gospel does for the believer.
These men had an urgent mission, an eager expectation, an unyielding resolve, and it led them to experience an astonishing event. Because they were willing to do whatever it took to get this man to Jesus, he experienced the miraculous.
Here’s the truth, at some point or another, we have all been this paralytic. Hopeless and helpless to change our situation. Someone looked at you and said with an urgency that moved them, my mission is to see that person come to faith in Christ. They were eager and expectant that God could and would do what only he can, and if they were anything like you and I are, they encountered some obstacles, but they made a way and because of that you experienced an astonishing event.
So, who are you fishing for today?