This is the first sermon I preached for my Intro to Preaching course. The prep work is posted separately. I don’t think my illustration was well placed and may not even be a good illustration to begin with. But I have posted as I preached it. It was intended to be a one-point, 5-7 minute sermon.
1When he returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. 2So many gathered around that there was no longer room for them, not even in front of the door; and he was speaking the word to them. 3Then some people came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. 4And when they could not bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him; and after having dug through it, they let down the mat on which the paralytic lay. 5When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven.’ 6Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, 7‘Why does this fellow speak in this way? It is blasphemy! Who can forgive sins but God alone?’ 8At once Jesus perceived in his spirit that they were discussing these questions among themselves; and he said to them, ‘Why do you raise such questions in your hearts? 9Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, “Your sins are forgiven”, or to say, “Stand up and take your mat and walk”?10But so 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, stand up, take your mat and go to your home.’ 12And he stood up, and immediately took the mat and went out before all of them; so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, ‘We have never seen anything like this!’
— Mark 2, 1-12
Recently I watched my friends’ five-year old son, Tyrone, while they went to dinner. It was interesting to see him adamantly insist on “doing things himself.” It was not the first time I experienced this and in fact I have vague memories of doing similar things as a child. After all, learning how to do things is part of growing up. What was interesting though, was that he still asked for help with things he either didn’t know how to do. And then there were the times when I insisted I help him so he didn’t end up injuring himself in the midst of learning how to do something.
Growing up in the US usually means “being able to support yourself” or something along those lines and this is not all bad. After all, we want our children to be confident enough in themselves to be able to live their lives to the fullest. But what happens when this is emphasized so much that a son doesn’t dare ask his mother for financial help for fear of being ridiculed for not managing his money well? Or how does this pan out when a brother doesn’t ask his sister for help moving their mother to a nursing home in her hold age?
In the case of the man who was paralyzed, however, we don’t even really know if he asked to be taken to Jesus. Maybe he was heartbroken from being rejected by his family and society because he was paralyzed. Maybe he had given up hope. I have a feeling that some of you have given up hope. And for those of you who don’t relate to that at this point in your lives, I am sure you know someone who has given up hope.
So where does this leave us? In a sermon Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave during the civil rights movement, he said, “Whatever effects one directly affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be [and vice-a-versa]…this is the interrelated structure of reality.” There are many things that paralyze us as people. Some of us are paralyzed by the fear of being abandoned. Some are paralyzed by anixiety due to the pressure we put on ourselves to perform. And some are paralyzed by depression which eats away at our desire to do much of anything. But fortunately, all is not lost! Paul wrote to the Corinthians saying, “For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.” (1 Cor 12, 1). Just as the four people in Mark 2 carried the paralyzed man to Jesus, we can carry each other to Jesus. Just as I use my right hand to apply a bandage to a cut on my left, each of us has different gifts we can use to help bring about restoration in the lives of others.
Each one of us sitting here is part of a connectional community. When you are unable to do something, other members of the body of Christ can step in to help. In helping you, they are helping the community as a whole. And there is freedom in that. Amen.
 Jr. King, Martin Luther, Strength to Love (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2010), 69.
King, Jr., Martin Luther. Strength to Love. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2010.