Date: July 28, 2013
Bible Text: Mark 2:1-12 | Roger Voegtlin
Series: Transcribed Sermons
Please turn in your Bibles to Mark chapter two. This is our text passage, so we’ll be turning to it several times. Mark 2:1-12. The title of my message this evening is “How to See Miracles.” This is one of my favorite passages in the Bible. I like to preach on this idea throughout the Bible, and how we can see them. So, again, Mark 2, starting at verse one. “And again he entered into Capernaum after some days; and it was noised that he was in the house. And straightway many were gathered together, insomuch that there was no room to receive them, no, not so much as about the door: and he preached the word unto them.” I want you to picture that. I hope you do as you read the Bible. It was jammed; there was no room on the outside, and the doors, and such. Everybody was coming to hear our Lord preach. “And they come unto him, bringing one sick of the palsy, which was borne of four. And when they could not come nigh unto him for the press, they uncovered the roof where he was: and when they had broken it up, they let down the bed wherein the sick of the palsy lay.” And this is the key.
One of the first messages I ever preached in this church was on that subject. It’s so important. It wasn’t when Jesus saw his faith, but when Jesus saw these four men, these people who were like us trying to do His work. “When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee. But there was certain of the scribes sitting there, and reasoning in their hearts, Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies? who can forgive sins but God only? And immediately when Jesus perceived in his spirit that they so reasoned within themselves, he said unto them, Why reason ye these things in your hearts? Whether is it easier to say to the sick of the palsy, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and take up thy bed, and walk?”
I like that. He just threw it in their face. “But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (he saith to the sick of the palsy,) I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house.” Can you picture that? Man, it had to be exciting. “And immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went forth before them all;…” And the scribes are sitting there with their mouths wide open. I don’t think it changed many in their minds, but they didn’t know what was happening. “…insomuch that they were all amazed, and glorified God, saying, We never saw it on this fashion.”
Now this was a miracle, and I’m saying, I couldn’t heal somebody sick of the palsy; we’re not faith hailers here, but I’ll say something, we can see God perform miracles. If we need something from God, He can and will answer our prayers, and I hope that you’ll be just encouraged by this though tonight. I don’t think many in here would disagree with me that the Bible is a miracle book. From the creation of heaven and earth in genesis to revelation and the last heaven and earth—all through the Bible there is an unbroken train of miracles. Now, I have no problem with the miracles we find in God’s Word. I believe each and every one of them. II Timothy 3:16 “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: “ All the accounts, all the miracles are inspired by God. Now I believe, and have no problem believing that one day God stood on the brink of eternity and spoke the worlds into existence. I believe that Moses saw the Red Sea pushed back and the people walked across on dry land. It ought to inspire us if we believe that. I believe that Jesus fed more than 5000, maybe 10,000. I’ve read scholars say it was probably more like 15,000; it doesn’t matter. It was at least 5,000 with only five loaves and two fishes. I believe that Jesus stood before the tomb of Lazarus and cried, “Lazarus, come forth.” And I can picture Him in my mind’s eye hopping out. He was all wrapped up in those grave clothes. I can see his sisters with their eyes sparkling. They get it pretty much off, and he starts kicking and dancing up and down praising God because a miracle, a true miracle, had been performed. I believe all the miracles in God’s Word, whether He performed them, Jesus performed them, Elijah, Ezekiel, Peter, Paul—but there’s one sad passage. We find that Jesus did not work miracles, and let this sink in, in His own hometown of Nazareth. In Matthew 13 it says, “…he did not many mighty works because of their unbelief.” I’ve got it underlined. If God doesn’t do things in our midst, it’s because of our unbelief. It’s not because of any shortcoming in Him. It’s us. We make the difference. Jesus’ power, do let it sink in. I think it’s the norm in Christianity today. His power, His hands were tied, as it were, because of unbelief. Can you imagine divinity standing shackled by man’s unbelief? But that’s exactly what happened in His own hometown. But thank God, we don’t have to live in Nazareth. We could live in Capernaum.
Those of you who were just in Israel, I love Capernaum, and I think it’s because there’s so many good things about it in the Bible. It was the opposite of Nazareth. Here, many of His miracles were performed. Here, He restored the man’s withered hand. And then at the synagogue, one day He cast demons out of a man and just confounded the people. It was at Capernaum that Jesus healed Peter’s mother-in-law, and you saw Peter’s house. But the miracle I like best worked in Capernaum was the miracle of the palsied man. I’ve always enjoyed preaching on this account because it’s so practical. Now get that word practical. I’m not going to preach up in the clouds today. I’m not going to talk about thing you don’t understand. This miracle was done because the Christians were Christians, because they followed the Bible. This story shows us so much we need to see in the year 2013. Now, again, this account shows us, first of all, what I want to look at, the preeminence of preaching. Verse 2 says, “And straightway many were gathered together, insomuch that there was no room to receive them, no, not so much as about the door: and he preached the word unto them.”
He preached, he didn’t have a rap session. He didn’t have an ecumenical dialogue. He never had anything like that. He didn’t get together a conclave to talk about the power of positive thinking. But if you read the Bible you read “…he preached the word unto them.” Now let it sink in. He preached. That was His ministry. He preached. In II Timothy 4:2, it says clearly, “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.”
Now some people think that I preach too hard. The reason the majority of people picked Pastor Damron to be our next pastor is because he preaches hard. Now, what are we challenged with? Be nice, don’t hurt people’s feelings—they might quit, the offerings might go down. Now, let me stop and say as the pastor, it makes we worry when the offerings go down, but I think I can say in these 43 years when the offerings were down and the people were ready to quit, and this type of thing, I would just rear back and preach harder, because the Bible says preach the word; be instant,……with all longsuffering and doctrine. We need preaching. It’s still the answer. Notice here that Jesus’ preaching was not preceded by some dancing, or some rock band, or some praise team. You’ve got to have a praise team today if you’re going to build a church. It was the preaching of the Word of God that got the job done, and there were no watch buzzers going off or anything. People weren’t looking at the clock, but the people thronged to hear the Word of God preached. Now, it’s still the answer. Let it sink in. It is still the answer. It’s the answer to our needs, to our sin; you have family problems, it’s the answer. I know there’s people in here, you’ve been coming here for years, but you’re so dull, you don’t even know what I’m preaching. You have no idea who I am or what I am. You’re still an Episcopalian in heart. But I’ll tell you what, it’s the answer to our laziness, to budget problems, or family problems, or job problems. The answer is not counseling, do you understand? It’s not psychology, but it’s the preached Word. Jesus shows us how to get His work accomplished here through preaching. Most of you know what I was a senior in college, I knew I would have to get up in front of people, so I went to the placement office and said I’d go someplace if a church needed a youth pastor. Sure enough, they sent me out to this little tiny country church in the sand dunes of South Carolina. I didn’t know until I got there, it wasn’t to be a youth pastor, but to preach, and that church would’ve shut their doors if I hadn’t come, and I had to preach. I’ve told you about how I beat my brains out studying. I’d be the first to say, I’m not a good preacher. I’m not fancy, I’m not smooth, I’m nothing like that. I can remember beating my brains out to preach a message. Then shaking hands, you wonder why I don’t shake people’s hands on the way out? This is one reason. This guy said, “You didn’t have too much time to study, did you.” I said, “Yeah.” But I don’t say this bragging, and I so believe in the power of God and loving your people, and these things. But it was only mainly preaching, and the church went from nothing; it’s still running today. I don’t know what they’re running, but we were running five times in eight or nine months. Preaching—God uses preaching. You’ve heard me talk about when I first started preaching, went out to Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, couple hundred people with more problems than any church I’ve ever seen before or after. I wept, and I don’t cry easy, I wept before God because I went there to be the youth pastor again, and the pastor left. O, God, what am I going to do? And, you know, God wants to hear that? You know I can’t do it. I can’t do it. And you know what God said? Preach. And it amazed me, as I fumbled and stumbled and preached how some people were changed by preaching. When we started the church here, whether it’s sin, immorality, family problems, doctrine, money problems, whatever it might be—we would preach. And God , I learned, blesses preaching. Don’t ever think you have to be fancy. It’s not fancy, the fanciest preachers I know are worthless. They’re depending on their ability. Just preach the word and be excited about coming to hear the Word of God preached.
A man just entered the ministry, sort of like I was, and he wrote his pastor and said, “Man, there’s lawyers, doctors, and professionals in the church, he was intimidated. And the pastor just wrote back and said, “Preach.” Everybody needs it. I’ll tell you what—you can be the most academic, you can be the most successful or educated, you need preaching I don’t care who you are, you need preaching. In I Corinthians 1:17-18 . “For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.”
“Not with wisdom of words,…” Now you get that? “Not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.” Boy, I don’t hear it now, but there for quite a while I’d hear, “I never heard that before. Man, that was good.” And I’d always say, “If you never heard it before,” I mean we’re talking about people saved for twenty, thirty years, “if you never heard it before, it’s heresy.” Everybody’s trying to be fancy. Everybody’s trying to have their own little niche. “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness, but to us which are saved it is the power of God.” Look at verse 21. “For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.”
Now get this, “…it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.” Not polished preaching. “Uh, I don’t know, this guy yells to much, or does this.” The foolishness of preaching. Look at chapter 2, verses 4 and 5. “And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.” We ought not to preach so people say, “Wow, is he good.” And I don’t mean to be too sanctimonious, but we ought to preach in such a way that God convicts, that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men. Whether it’s Roger Voegtlin or Steve Damron. I’ve tried to keep a low profile here, and he’s wanting to do the same thing. If you know me, you know I’m not a big shot—I hate big shots. That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. You still need to hear the Bible preached. I like to talk about it, I’ve been saved 65 years, and I still love good preaching. Not especially fancy preaching, but good preaching. Preaching must be preeminent in this church if we’re going to see miracles. That’s our title, remember. But look at this, Jesus put the spiritual needs before the physical of the palsied man. He said, thy sins be forgiven thee. Now, he needed to be healed, and Jesus could do that, but the idea of being palsied is he couldn’t do anything. He couldn’t lift his head, hands, feet; he was lifeless. If there was a man who needed physical help it was this man. But before Jesus touched his body, he touched his heart. Let that sink in. Remember as we work with the poor and retarded and alcoholic, our work is spiritual. I love the fact that we have Jolly sixties—that’s Bible. I love that we have Reformers, and I love that we’re reaching out to the poor and trying to love the people in prison, but we better remember in the Jolly 60s we always have a good meal and normally there’s some special speaker or some Christian film, but don’t ever push the preaching of God’s word aside. Don’t ever think, “Well we’ll just get some jerk in here who doesn’t know what he’s doing. That’s what they’re there for—to hear the preaching of God’s Word. Jesus saved before He healed. It’s better to go to heaven with palsy than to go to hell without, and we’ve got to keep in mind, if we’re going to see miracles, we’ve got to do it God’s way.
We’ve got to lift up preaching, lift up the spiritual over the physical, but the number one reason I love this miracle is that it proves, and please listen. This is the heart of the message. It proves that man can move God. That’s why it was one of the first things I preached here. Especially you young preachers, you should preach to yourself a lot. And in the early days, I found I just preached on faith, faith, faith. When I saw this, “When Jesus saw their faith. Does it move you? Does it stir you? That you can get God to do things for you? I look out at some, I feel sorry for you. You’re just going to go through life miserable. I don’t know whether you’re going to go to heaven or hell, but no joy in life. What a shame. Can you imagine? It ought to excite the deadest of you. The creature can affect the Creator. The man or maid can move their Maker. Come on, you Episcopalians. Can you get excited about that? I, we, with our little minds and rough edges can look up into heaven and get God to do certain things because of our faith. You say, You believe it? I wouldn’t be in the pulpit if I didn’t believe it. Does it shock you? Does it astound you? We can get God to move upon us and our family, our church. That’s what bothers me about some of you fathers. Pastor Damron was, you know, I could see myself when I was younger, he’s up here preaching last week. You just want to run down and shake some dads. Why don’t you get excited about your family? Why don’t you determine that they’re not going to fall and fail? You’re the difference. We can get God to do the supernatural in our ministries if we’re right in our prayer life, in our work, I n our faith. You and I can move God to action. Now, that’s hard to believe. If I were just to stand out on the street corner and say, “I believe we can move God to action,” they’d laugh at us. “Prove it.” When Jesus saw their faith, do you ever get hungry to see God work? You dads, do you want your kids to see god work? Do you want to see people saved in your Sunday school class? Wouldn’t you like to see something happen that reaches above average, or mundane, or routine? Don’t you want that higher ground? Now, I’m not talking about running around the church and shout and scream—putting on a show, but even at my age, I want to see miracles. Don’t take God out of your lives with dispensations. All we have to do is meet the demands of Almighty God. That’s what’s exciting about preaching about the family, but some of you—you’re dull, you’re asleep—all you want to do is not be thought of, you know, you’ll leave the church if somebody thinks you’re not the right dad. What about being the right dad? Now, let’s see how these four men moved God to action. I want you to see how the creature excited the Creator, and I hope you get excited. The man moves his maker.
First of all, and I would say this is probably the biggest problem, burdened hearts move God. Is this the very problem you have? You don’t have a burden. You’re more worried about your pride and what people think of you than that son or that daughter being really right with God. They’ll never really be right with God if you’re not. The difference in gaining the blessing and power of God may be as simple as the fact that you’re not burdened. Your problem with a ministry, the family, souls may simply just be you’re not burdened. Do you have a burden tonight? God’ll let you know if you’re honest. God’ll let you know. Are you burdened about your family? I didn’t ask you if you’re worried about what people think. I asked you if you’re burdened about your family. Are you burdened about your ministry? Sometimes it manifests itself in a pressure to pray or read the Bible or to hear preacher. Sometime the pressure is so hard that it makes you cry. Now I know some of you ladies, my wife cries pretty easily, you females, but sometime it’ll make us men cry. There’s different manifestations, but the best Christians are those with a burden. Let me ask you, have you ever walked the floor all night, not trying to prove anything, but because you had such a burden that you couldn’t sleep, you didn’t want to lay down? Have you? I’ll tell you, the man with the burden, woman with the burden, is the one who moves God to action, gets things done.
Now, in Mark 2, again, verses 3 and 4, it says, “And they come unto him, bringing one sick of the palsy, which was borne of four. And when they could not come nigh unto him for the press, they uncovered the roof where he was: and when they had broken it up, they let down the bed wherein the sick of the palsy lay.”
There’s burden written all over this. They had to get the stretcher, they had to carry him, they had to climb through the roof, there’s no way to explain mark chapter 2 without four burdened people. Now, again, I ask you, do you have a burden? Would you even consider bringing someone to church in a car, let alone a stretcher? When’s the last time you had a burden for a coworker? Now, stop and ask yourself. When’s the last time you had a burden for a coworker? You say, “They drink, they swear.” What about you before you got saved? What if people treated you that way? Were so geared toward a schedule. We don’t want our evenings messed with, we don’t want our sleep disturbed. Don’t tie me down with a bus. I’ll do these convenient things, but don’t tie me with to a bus. I’ll do that when the kids are older, well the kids are older and they’re gone. Are you going to die before you do it? It’s time you get a burden for your children, for your marriage. We need a burden for those around us. We sit around and make daisy chains singing our hymns and the world’s going to hell. Mark 2 is in the Bible because four men had a burden, and Fairhaven will see God work in us according to the burden we have.
When a burden flows from our music, sometime it does me when people yodel up here. I wonder, what are they’re trying to accomplish? What are they trying to do? You say, “Are you making fun?” Yeah. You people shouldn’t get up here if you’ve got sin in your life and if you don’t have a burden any more than I should get up here and preach. It’s not talent, it’s a burden. The same thing with the youth ministry, the bus ministry, Sunday school, the pulpit—when there’s a burden that flows from these areas, we’ll see miracles.
But something else that’ll move God to action, and it’s a willingness to work Proverbs 20:13. If you were to go through Proverbs and underline every verse that talked about work, you’d see how important it is. You know, again, we believe in the need of the His power, but next to it is work. God blesses old-fashioned, dirty, sweaty work. And in Proverbs 20:13, it says, “Love not sleep lest thou…..bread.” The Bible says, “Go to the ant, thou sluggard.” Proverbs 18:9, “He also that is slothful in his work is brother to him that is a great waster.“ Work. Some of you can get past almost reverse. You don’t know what it is to get busy. You’re dull; you’re almost dead. You say, “I’m just made that way.” Change. Change. Proverbs 15:19, “The way of the slothful man is as an hedge of thorns: but the way of the righteous is made plain.” God hates laziness, and I think especially in His work. You can talk all you want, ma, people are such good talkers. Yeah, conmen are good talkers. Talk, talk, talk. Roll up your sleeves, and do something. A key to Mark 2 is work. In Mark 2:4, it says, “And when they could not come nigh unto him for the press, they uncovered the roof where he was: and when they had broken it up, they let down the bed wherein the sick of the palsy lay..” It takes work, physical exertion. I guarantee they were sweating. I’ll guarantee that God likes sweat. Jesus was a worker. In John 9, verse 4, He says, “I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work..” And when He died on the cross, He said, “It is finished.” That meant the work that He was doing was finished. And yet, He rested on the ship. He went apart to get away for a while, but not too often. As you see Him, He is a worker. And if you don’t like work, you won’t see miracles. Remember at the beginning of the message I said this was a practical message? It’s practical. And it’s in the bible here. You need a burden, you need to work. How many times have I said, “Work and pray. Pray and work.” It’s the two together. “Work and pray. Pray and work.” The Bible says whatsoever your hand finds to do—do it! Do it with all your might. Some of you if you’d reach out, God would put the bus ministry there; or if you reached out, He’d put your family there. Do you know it takes work to raise your family? A lazy man does not raise a good family. Mark 2 would not be in the Bible if four men did not have a burden to work for God.
But finally, look at this. An overcoming faith will move God to action. It’ll bring Him down among us and cause Him to do great miracles for us. Let me read that same Mark 2:4. “I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work..” Now most Christians would’ve been stopped by the press. It’s a symbol of a barrier. I get so tired of it. “Well, it must not be God’s will. I guess we’ll have to do it another time. The crowds are too big.” Now, presses all come in a variety of ways—there’s financial presses, financial presses, there’s social, domestic, time presses—but the person that gets the blessing is the person who goes through the press or over the press or around the press. They have an overcoming faith. Now, we got about 75 going out to Idaho and Wyoming climbing non-technical mountains, and I was thinking, I think Sharon started it. But I started this craziness about 25 years ago. I got something in me that I wanted to climb The Grand Teton.