Saturday 14 January 2017

Coming home (Mark 2:1-12)

[Preached at the Chinese Church combined service on Sunday, 8 January 2017. Translated into Cantonese.]

When Jesus heals the man, he tells him to get up, take his mat and go home. Every day after work or after school when we pack our bags and go home. What is so special about this man? Why does the crowd go, “Wow! We have never seen anything like this.”

Because he cannot walk. Because, if this man wants to go home, he has to be carried home. The word for this is “stuck”. To be “stuck” means you want to go home, but you can’t. Like this Chinese New Year: You want to go home, but you are stuck at work. Or here in church, you want to go home but you are stuck because my sermon is too long-winded (cheung hei)!

But Jesus heals the man and he goes home! And everyone goes, “Hooray!” Yet, Jesus says: More important than going home is being welcomed home. More important than going home early or quickly is being loved in your own home.

Look with me to verse 1.

Jesus goes home
Verse 1: “The people heard that he (Jesus) had come home.” It’s like when Along comes home. Or when David comes home. Everyone says, “Let’s have tea in Wetherspoons!”

Jesus has just come home after travelling the villages. And everyone says “Let’s go and see Jesus!” Verse 2: “They gathered in such numbers, there was no room left.” “Not even outside the door.” So many came that some were standing outside next to the rubbish bins.

And Jesus “preached the word to them.” (verse 2) They wanted to see Jesus. Jesus wanted them to hear God’s word. Those standing outside couldn’t see him. But everyone could hear Jesus preaching God’s word to them.

Imagine your house full of people. That’s stressful! Is there enough food? Are there enough chairs? Imagine every Chinese person in Cambridge came to CCCC on Chinese New Year. Two thousand people! What should we do?

What we should do is preach God’s word. That was Jesus’ number priority. “That is why I have come,” Jesus says in Mark Chapter 1 (verse 38), “so that I can preach there also.”

Whether we go out to them or they come to us. We want to preach God’s word to our friends. That’s our number one priority.

Faithful friends

Some men came, bringing to him a paralysed man, carried by four of them. Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on.
Mark 2:3-4

These are good friends.Tam Wing-lun (Alan Tam) wrote a song about good friends. (

Nei wai liu ngor / 你为了我 (You’re there for me)
Ngor wai liu nei / 我为了你 (I’m there for you)
Kung foo wan nan chuit mong lui
/ 共赴患難絕望里緊握你手
(In times of troubles to the end, I’ll hold your hand)
Kan nap nei sau
… Pang Yau!!! / 朋友 (My friends!)

Good friends will do anything for you especially in times of trouble. “We will get you to Jesus.” They climb up the roof. They dig a hole (in Jesus’ house). Everyone is looking at them but they don’t care. Like Tom Cruise on Mission Impossible, they lower their friend down from the ceiling.

Parents don’t approve of these kind of friends. So naughty! But these friends are the best friends because of their faith in Jesus Christ. Look at verse 5.

When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralysed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”
Mark 2:5

What did Jesus see? Their faith. Not: Oi, what are you doing to my roof? No, the bible says he saw their faith. They were trusting Jesus to help their sick friend. “Only you can help him, Jesus.”

When my father was sick, for a long time he didn’t want to see the doctor. One day, he friend drove an hour to the house, put my father in the car, drove him another hour to the hospital and admitted him. For every check-up, he drove my father. He drove four hours each time. Not to the restaurant or to sing Karaoke, but to hospital to get the help he needed. What do you call that? A good friend.

Jesus sees our faith. When you pray. When you share the gospel. When you pick people up to come to church. Don’t give up bringing your friends to Jesus. But more importantly, keep trusting Jesus with your friends and family. “Jesus, only you can save them. Only you can change their lives.”

Secret enemies

Finally, we see some secret enemies.

Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, ‘Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?’
Mark 2:6-7

I call them secret enemies is because they are undercover. On the outside, they look good. Firstly, they were sitting there, meaning, they came early - not like those four friends who came late and the house was full. Secondly, even though they were saying bad things about Jesus, they said it secretly in their hearts.

But Jesus could see into their hearts. Verse 8: “Immediately, Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them and he said to them, ‘Why are you thinking these thing?’”

What were they thinking? Jesus cannot forgive sin. He is not God. He is insulting God because only God can forgive sin.

And Jesus asks them a question. “Which is easier: to say to this paralysed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk?’” Or put it another way: Which is cheaper? When we buy something we often compare the prices? This brand is cheap, but that brand has a big discount. Jesus offers two options: Which do you choose?

The first is Brand Forgiveness. “Your sins are forgiven,” and we say, “OK, let me think about it.” But the second brand is Brand Fortune. Get up: Meaning, Immediately! You are healed immediately. Pick up (your mat): Meaning, No need for your friends to carry you. You are strong enough to carry your mat. Go home: Meaning, Life is back to normal. And Jesus says: Which is better?

If I am honest, I want Fortune more than I want Forgiveness. When I pray, I ask God for health, for happiness, for my exams, for my job, for more time, for more money, for more people to like me. I pray for fortune more than i pray for forgiveness. And Jesus says, “Why are you thinking these things?”

But then Jesus says, “I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins…” and he heals the man. He gets up, picks up, goes home. Everyone goes “Wah, so amazing!” and he goes home. But what should they have said instead? They should have said,  “Wah, his sins have been forgiven.” They should have said, “Wah, Jesus has authority to forgive my sin.” Maybe even, “Wah, Jesus is God!”

Going home is important, but more important is being welcomed home. Why go home if you are only going to argue with your parents, to boast about yourself, to fight with your friends? Why go home if you are not welcome in your own home? We are stuck. We want to go home but we can’t, not because of money. Because we are not welcome.

But if you are welcome home, it means you are going back to a family who loves you. To friends who want to see you (Paaang Yaauuuu!!). And when Jesus says, “Your sins are forgiven,” he is saying, “God is welcoming you to come home.” “Son,” he says, “Your sins are forgiven.”

There is a story of a man named Paco who ran away from home. His father put an advertisement in the newspaper - “All is forgiven. Paco come home.” 800 sons named Paco came home. Why? Because all of us want to be forgiven. All of us want to go home.

At the cross of Jesus Christ, where he died for our sins, God is saying, “All is forgiven. Come home.”

All is forgiven

We have seen three things. Jesus comes home to preach God’s word. That is his number one priority - that people hear God’s word in the bible. Secondly, Jesus sees our faith. Don’t give up bringing your friends to Jesus. Jesus sees your love and your sacrifice.

But finally, Jesus sees our hearts. He offers us the most expensive gift God could ever buy - forgiveness. On the cross, Jesus died to pay for all our sins, for all our hatred towards God so that he can say to us, “Come home. All is forgiven.”

Let’s pray.

Heavenly Father,
We pray for our friends,
Who are sick,
Who are in trouble,
Who don’t yet know you as their God,
We pray, most of all, for them to be forgiven of their sin.
And to hear Jesus saying to them, “All is forgiven. It is time to come home.”
In Jesus name, we pray,