Overcoming spiritual paralysis during a pandemic
Luke 5:17 -26
With Peter Veysie
George Methodist church
8am and 10am
Sunday 29th August 2021
I am hearing more and more stories of doom and gloom and how people have been brought to a standstill during this pandemic emotionally physically spiritually and mentally and funny enough socially as well where we have lost the art of meeting. People are paralysed with the thought of where to go and what to do and it’s very real. We are caught in a time of overwhelming uncertaintiy, poverty and the stats now say that 1 in 3 people are unemployed and it might be even worse.
We have to take our minds back to another season where a very similar situation was taking place. Chaos reigned during the time of Jesus where Roman rule had taken over, religious leaders and succumbed to manipulation from authorities and people were struggling to make ends meet. Communities were struggling with disease and discomfort and they needed to hear a voice of hope encouraging them to overcome and be healed. Jesus job description is found in that famous Isaiah scripture which he quotes – “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free” Luke 4:18 and Isaiah 61:1-3
In our story this morning we see Jesus confronted by many who needed healing from many diseases Luke 4:38-44 and in the middle of these miracles and healings he calls his disciples to follow him. I always love the fact that one of the first people Jesus heals is a leper and how the disciples are challenged by their religious minds with the possibility of their rabbi being unclean and now them. This could have caused them to experience spiritual paralysis but Jesus overcomes this.
Today I want to explore the amazing miracle that Jesus does with the paralysed man and through the story, find keys to overcoming our own spiritual paralysis. You might recall that I have shared this same scripture before, but I believe that there are new insights to learn for the time that we are in now which will really give you tools to overcome your own spitual paralysis.
1. The religious critics. Verse 17
I want to put this scripture in the context of the story as we find ourselves walking with Jesus along the sea of Galillee and the fisherman have been fishing all night but without a catch of fish – put your nets on the other side ???They were called to become fishers of men.Jesus then heals a leper and touches him which by the law of Moses would make him unclean and his new disciples, but this is not a problem for Jesus – “Lord if you are willing,you can make me clean.” Go and show yourself to the priests…
News about him was spreading far and wide and now he comes to where he was staying in Galilee. Mark says it’s Capernaum, Matthew says it’s his town and Luke doesn’t say which town it is !!!
The Pharisees and teachers of the law are sitting there probably listening and waiting to trip him up.
I often think that the first point of paralysis comes with the what will they say or the fear of the critics in our lives. I find it quite powerful that Jesus is not deterred by this and continues to teach no matter what.
There are so many voices around us at the moment and we need to be cautious of them and discerning as to what is true and what is false !!! The critics will always be around you. I remember a prophecy that I received when I was a lot younger about mutterers and stutterers that would be there throughout my ministry and I must say that it’s really true, but I have to be careful that these voices do not paralyse me which they have done before. I am sure you are aware of those religious critical voices in your life which just sap the energy out of you. Jesus knew all about this and shows in this particular context how to not allow them to derail you.
2. The Power of the Lord was with Jesus to heal the sick. Verse 17
I want to say that even Jesus knew that he needed power from on on high to heal the sick. Fundamentally one could say that Jesus does not need any specific motivation to heal the paralysed man. He has come into the world out of love for us human beings, to help us, to save lives, to heal lives. Nevertheless we get in this story a hint that there is a right time, a “kairos time”, for the healing of the paralysed man. It says in verse 17:
And the power of the Lord was present for him to heal the sick.
We are here given a small insight into the mystery that the healing action of Jesus takes place in association with his Father. Jesus acts with authority, but not in an autocratic way.
It’s quite profound to me that this is where we can find paralysis too when it comes to doing what the Lord wants us to do. If you have a moment it’s often difficult to just stop and pray for someone. We get afraid of what they might think, but I have found that it is very seldom that people will say that they don’t want prayer and even the hardest of people. Don’t get paralysed out of a fear of not knowing what to say. Ask for power from the Lord and be bold in knowing that He will guide you and give you wisdom. The same power that raised Jesus from the dead. Romans 6:10-11
3. The friends that bring the paralysed man to Jesus.verse 18 -20
These friends who probably had been living with this paralysed man for many years had found themselves having to carry this man to Jesus. The house is so full that they can’t get in and so they go up onto the top of the house break open the roof and let the man down for Jesus to heal him.
It’s hugely significant at this point that Jesus points to the faith of the friends and not the faith of the paralysed man. Verse 20 “When Jesus saw their faith,he said, “Friend your sins are forgiven”
I love the fact that they had worked through their own possible paralysis and possible lack of faith to get to this point. The boldness of the friends breaking through the roof is most profound to me. I believe that there are times when you have no way of taking another step in your own physical or spiritual paralysis and you just need a group of friends to stand with you and boldly ,through prayer ,take you to the feet of Jesus. There is nothing more satisfying than to find people who love you so much and who are willing to sacrifice their own lives or even their reputation for the sake of a friend.
James 5: 13 -16 “Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. 16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective”.
When we are paralysed with whatever it might be then we need our sisters and brothers to bring us to the feet of Jesus. Ephesians 4:2
Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.
4. The critics will look at the “hole in the roof” and miss the whole point !!!
Critics by the way don’t just go away and it seems that the bolder we get spiritually, the louder they become. Some can easily overcome you, but remember that they might be experiencing an adventure in missing the point and focussing in on the hole in the roof rather than the freedom that the Lord has just brought to the paralysed man.Religious thinking can paralyse us and others who have this mindset can do the same and may I say conspiracy theorists and fear mongers will do the same to you and all they are doing is focussing on the hole in the roof. Galatians 5:1 It is for freedom that Christ has set you free no longer to be subject to a yolk of slavery !!!!
5. Pick up what’s been holding you down and get rid of it – the mat !!! Roll it up!!!
Get up take your mat and go home !!! The very thing that’s been controlling you all the time – pick it up – Allow the Lord to take authority over it !!! Our paralysis can hold us down and it’s often that “mat” in our lives that we need to take authority over. Take up your mat – pick it up and don’t let it hold you down. It had held this paralysed man for years and now the Lord says pick it up and if necessary thow it away. What is holding you down and still causing your paralysis ?
6. Everyone was amazed and gave praise to God. They were filled with awe and said “ We have seen remarkable things today.”
When your paralysis is overcome people will praise God knowing that he has been involved in your healing and restoration. The testimonies of what has occurred during this season will long be with us. From people losing loved ones to coming out of ICU to being there with those who have lost hope, to healing and getting through this still with battle scars and all the time praise and honour is given to our Lord Jesus Christ.