Do you remember the last words you said to someone you loved who isn’t with us anymore? Or do you remember the last words they said to you? If you knew you were about to see someone you loved dearly for the last time, do you think you would choose your words carefully?
Not all last words are that way, like the famous last words of the redneck: “Hey! Watch this!” Unlike that, here are some famous last words of Christian pastors throughout history, last words that were purposeful and meaningful:
John Calvin’s last words were, “I am abundantly satisfied, since it is from thy hand.” John Knox said, “Live in Christ, live in Christ, and the flesh need not fear death.” John Wesley proclaimed on his deathbed, “The best of all is, God is with us. Farewell! Farewell!” Preacher Henry Ward Beecher entered eternity with the words, “Now comes the mystery!”
On his deathbed, British preacher Charles Simeon smiled brightly and asked the people gathered in his room, “What do you think especially gives me comfort at this time?” When they all remained silent, he exclaimed, “The creation! I ask myself, ‘Did Jehovah create the world or did I?’ He did! Now if He made the world and all the rolling spheres of the universe, He certainly can take care of me. Into Jesus’ hands I can safely commit my spirit!”
I’m certain you would choose your words carefully if you could. I’m certain this is what Jesus did, too, before he ascended into heaven, with his loved one all gathered around.
We are to make disciples around the world and where we are.
Why? Because the world needs Jesus. And the people around you need Jesus. Turn to your neighbor right now and say, “You need Jesus.” Turn to your other neighbor and say, “You need Jesus.” Now, I do this with our students often, so humor me. Put your chin to your chest and whisper, “You need Jesus.” You just spoke truth! We all need Jesus! That means we all need to be disciples and we all need to make disciples. We are going to have a practical lesson today…some equipping. Are you prepared to make disciples? If all the Christians in the world were like you, would any disciples of Jesus be made? Would anyone hear the gospel?
How long do you think it would take to lead the whole world to Christ? America? Tullahoma? Our schools?
Statistics (32% of the world claims to be Christian; 68% non-Christian)
- U.S. population: 332 million
- World population: 7.75 billion
- Each day (in the world)
- 385,000 babies are born
- 261,800 of those will end up non-Christian
- 150,000 people die
- 102,000 die without knowing Christ
- 385,000 babies are born
- Each hour (in the world)
- 7,425 people die
- 5,049 die and go to hell
- 7,425 people die
- If you stood all the lost people of the world shoulder to shoulder, they would circle the globe 30 times.
- If just Southern Baptists could see 500,000 conversions a year and freeze the number of people who were born and died . . .
- It would take 664 years to reach America
- 15,500 years to reach the world
- If one person led one person to Christ the first year, discipled him, and then both led one person to Christ the next year, then continued the process . . .
- We would reach our schools in 10 years (1,024 converts)
- We would reach Tullahoma in 15 years (32,768 converts)
- We would reach America in 29 years (536,870,912 converts)
- We would reach the World in 33 years (8.5 billion converts)
Do you realize the great commission was given to YOU? The great commission isn’t about just bringing someone to church for a pastor to share Christ with someone. It’s about YOU sharing Christ with someone. It’s about YOU leading them to make a decision about Christ. It’s about YOU teaching them how to follow Jesus. I am convinced that a sign of a healthy church is when the baptistry waters are stirred with people the pastor has no clue who they are, because someone else in the church has led that person to Christ. Are you prepared and equipped to do that? Could you articulately share the gospel with someone?
That’s what we’re seeking to do with our students. We’ve been training many of them for a year every Monday morning before school in apologetics and evangelism. We call it Wildcats for Christ, and we are seeking to provide opportunities now for them to share Christ in their school. And here is how they are doing it. It is a simple tool that FCA has promoted called “The Four.”
♥ God loves you.
÷ Sin separates you.
✝ Jesus rescues you.
? Will you believe?
These students have been wearing shirts around school with a question big and bold on their backs: “DO YOU BELIEVE?” And God is providing opportunities. I want you to hear the testimony of one student who was given an opportunity just last week while in math class.
Isn’t that an awesome testimony! We can and should have testimonies just like that. The people around us need Jesus. Amen? Now, let’s think back on our text for today. Here’s something we need to see that will drive us to share Jesus with those around us.
The paralytic’s needs drove the four men’s action.
The paralytic had needs that only Jesus could meet. He was paralyzed, and Jesus was known for healing people. The four friends acted off those needs. If they hadn’t, the man would have been left there, alone in his desperation, while Jesus walked by outside and right past him. The man would have died a cripple, taking his last breath in that same bed that was his only companion. He would have died in that bed, a cripple, and died never having known Jesus…with his sins still unforgiven.
But that’s not what happened. Four people cared. They cared so much that they took that very bed that the paralytic would one day die in and picked the whole thing up and used it to carry him to Jesus. And his world was changed. The very thing that kept him down is what they used to bring him to Jesus.
Y’all, this world chases after so many things that cannot and will not satisfy. And people keep chasing those things thinking it will satisfy, the whole time with a gaping hole in their heart that only Jesus can fill.
Take people with hurts and bring them to the healer. Take people with bad habits and bring them to the life-changer. Take people with grievous sins and bring them to the sin forgiver. Take people with dark pasts and bring them to the future-giver. Take people with depression and bring them to the joy-filler. Take people with chronic sickness and bring them to the healer. Take people with anger issues and bring them to the one who is slow to anger. Take people with doubts and bring them to the one who is the truth. Take people who are not seeking after God and bring them to the one who seeks and saves the lost.
Our world needs Jesus. They need the life-giving, life-changing, joy-filling, abundant life that only comes through Him. Jesus meets our needs. Amen? Not only does he meet our earthly needs, but he does so much more.
Jesus meets our greatest needs. The man’s greatest need wasn’t for him to be able to walk. It was for his sins to be forgiven. It’s the same for you and me. (vs 5) The Jews were expecting the Messiah to come as a mighty king to rid them from their oppression…to meet a physical need. Instead, Jesus came as a sacrificial servant, to forgive sins of all who would believe. So, may people don’t even know they have this great need. We need to be told we are a sinner before we see our need for the Savior.
People are dying of a cancer they don’t know of and don’t think they have! Sin. And a cancer that can be healed instantly. Like this paralyzed man, their sins can be forgiven. How does someone get forgiveness of sins? Faith in Jesus. Jesus died in our place, taking the punishment for our sins.
Ephesians 1:7 – In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace.
But here’s something we need to see from this encounter with Jesus. The men’s faith came before the paralytic’s forgiveness.
It doesn’t say in verse 5, “When Jesus saw the man’s faith…” It says, “When Jesus saw their faith…” They believed that Jesus could heal their friend, even when their friend was helpless. Even when he was chained to his bed. They picked up that bed and carried their friend to Jesus. While the path to Jesus was blocked, these men were undeterred. They knew this paralytic man needed Jesus and they were willing to go to great lengths to get him to Jesus. One commentary discusses the situation like this:
The house was likely a small, one-room structure with a flat roof. Access to the roof was by means of an outside stairway. The four men brought the paralytic (v. 3) to the house where Jesus was; but when they saw the size of the crowd, they realized it was impossible to enter by the door. So they carried the paralytic up the outside stairway to the roof (v. 4). There they dug up the compacted thatch and earth (no doubt dirt showered down on those inside the house below), removed the tiles, and lowered the man through the now-exposed beams to the floor below.
Jesus recognized this ingenuity and persistence as faith. Mark says Jesus “saw their faith.” It was evident in the actions of both the paralytic and his bearers. But instead of healing the man of his lameness, Jesus forgave his sins. This hardly seemed to be what the man needed—at least on the surface.
It is not as if this sick man were unusually sinful, but his case makes the universal separation of man from God more conspicuous and illustrates the truth which is proclaimed over and over in the Old Testament, that all suffering is rooted in man’s separation from God. For this reason, Jesus must call attention here to man’s deepest need; otherwise the testimony of this healing would remain nothing more than the story of a remarkable miracle. (Schweizer, p. 61)
The Bible says, “No one seeks after God” (Rom 3:11). It says the unbelieving world looks at the message of the cross as foolishness (1 Cor 1:18). But do you believe that people should seek after God, even if they think he is unnecessary? Do you think that the message of the cross is the greatest news ever, not foolishness? Do you have faith that the gospel has power to save? (Rom 1:16)
The message of the cross and the empty tomb…the message of Jesus and the free gift of salvation that is found only in him…you know what it’s called? It’s called the gospel. I want you to see something interesting about the original language. The Greek word for gospel is εὐαγγέλιον (euangelion). You know what word this is translated as also in your Bible? “Good news.” The gospel is literally “good news.” Now, here’s something else that is interesting that we need to grasp. This Greek word εὐαγγέλιον (euangelion) is the basis for another word we use in the English language. You know what it is? Evangelism. What is evangelism? It is sharing the good news.
Good news must be shared.
When you have good news, don’t you want to share it? We do that naturally. And we have the best news in the world! Jesus brings life! For eternity and right now! Do you believe that? Do you have faith enough to bring someone to a Jesus they aren’t seeking and don’t know how to get to?
There are people you know who are stuck to their beds, their beds of depression, of feelings of unworthiness and loneliness, of a hard home life, of past haunting sins, of past abuse that was thrust upon them, of cultural confusion, of social disorders, eating disorders, of nagging and repetitive sin, and of church hurt. There are people stuck to these beds, not even knowing Jesus is outside. They need someone to pick them up and bring them to Jesus. And just as the paralytic’s legs were healed, their depression and loneliness and sin patterns will be healed. And as the paralytic’s soul was healed, their soul will be as well, and for all eternity. And they will die one day, not stuck to that bed, but dying to live forever with the God that freed them and saved them.
But this would never happen if the four men didn’t carry their friend to Jesus. And this won’t happen if you don’t carry yours.
We must love people enough to carry them to Jesus. If God so loved the world that he gave his only son, we should so love the world that we tell them about the God who loves them. When someone has cancer, the most loving thing a doctor can do is give them a proper diagnoses so they can get proper treatment. If a family’s house is on fire but they are living their life inside like everything is normal, the loving thing wouldn’t be to not bother them. It would be to do anything in your power to let them know they are in danger and there is a way of escape. They can be saved.
Romans 10:13-14 – 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” 14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?
 The Expositor’s Bible Commentary. Accessed through Logos Bible Software.