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Entries in Obstacles (1)

Tuesday
Nov052013

Obstacles To Jesus

Today we are going to be in Luke 5:17-26.  Here we will see that there are obstacles that get in the way of us finding Jesus, or being touched by him.  Some of these obstacles are physical and some of them are not.  Some of them have to do with ourselves and others are outside of us.  However, it is faith that overcomes all obstacles in order to be touched by Jesus.  Without faith in God we will never press through these obstacles, nor receive from Jesus what God has for us.

Now this may sound like all the work depends on us.  However, the Truth is that we are only cooperating with the immense work that God has already done.  The Son of God had come to Earth and took on the additional nature of a man.  He had lived a sinless life and had come speaking the Truth and healing.  Thus we should never over estimate the greatness of our actions.  Yet, faith is necessary.  Without faith it is impossible to please God and without it no one will see God.  Let’s look at this story.

The Crowd

In verses 17-19 we find Jesus in an unnamed town and he is teaching.  It says that the Spirit of the Lord was present to heal and yet there was a crowd that had formed around him within the building and outside.  The success of Jesus had itself become a wall around him.  This physical issue of Jesus is pointed out in John 16:7, “It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you.”  The Holy Spirit is not limited to a physical body and can be everywhere at once.  While Jesus walked this Earth, he was limited to a body and only so many people could hear him and get close enough to touch him.  This day it was a problem for a man who was paralyzed.

We also know that the crowd is a mixed crowd.  It is mixed with those who need healing and those who just want to see it.  It is mixed with those who believe in Jesus and those who are looking for means to oppose him.  In fact wherever there is a crowd around Jesus, even in today’s churches, it is mixed in motives.  Some who are taking up room around Jesus do not believe and get in the way of those who do want to believe.  Some who refuse to be touched by Jesus physically block those who are trying to get near.  Is it possible that satan could crowd Jesus with deceivers and false disciples in order to discourage those who truly want Jesus?  You better believe that it happens.  Just remember that not everyone crowding around Jesus and His Church really want Him.

Much of the crowd only want things from Jesus.  They may not be actually resisting him like the Pharisees and Scribes.  But neither do we only want him.  The problem is not that we want things or even healings.  The problem is when our desire to get these things gets in the way of really hearing what Jesus is trying to say to us.  Do I want things from Jesus more than I want Him?  If I received no healing would I still trust Him?  If I have to choose I choose Jesus.  That is what faith is.  It is holding to Jesus because only He has the Words of Life.

Now even though the crowd can be an obstacle and should be challenged to make a choice, the person on the outside also needs to make a choice.  Are you going to let the crowd around Jesus keep you from Him?  Are you really going to say to Him when you stand before Him in eternity, “You didn’t make it easy enough for me.  Or, It was too hard.”  Really?  Do you remember the woman who had a feminine problem where she was bleeding every day?  She had wasted all her money on doctors with no cure.  Decades later she is poor and weak.  Jesus is surrounded by a crowd.  Who could expect her to be able to get through the crowd?  However, she wanted a touch from Jesus so bad that she pushed through the crowd just to touch the hem of his garment.  It is interesting that in that story (Luke 8) we are told that the crowd “thronged” Jesus.  It literally means to suffocate or choke.  I wonder if God is sometimes choking and suffocated by the unbelief and lack of faith of the crowd that has pressed in around Him today, looking for things from Him more than wanting just Him?

Yet in this story the man is paralyzed.  He can’t even do what that poor, weak, bleeding woman could.  Here we see that we do need friends.  Sometimes the obstacle is in me.  But as we explore this aspect, keep in mind that no matter how much we need friends, we need Jesus more.  The best friends are those who help us to get to Jesus.  So don’t let the presence of the crowd or the sin of the crowd keep you from Jesus.  Do you want Jesus?  Then press through the crowd and reach him.  Don’t hold back.

Physical Conditions

Now let’s focus on the fact that the man is paralyzed.  His health is an obstacle to getting to Jesus.  Now bad health can range from paralysis, zero ability, to the sniffles, only hampered.  If I only have small physical issues then I need to find ways around them and press through.  Yet, in this case that won’t work.  He needed help.  This is true if we are the paralyzed man or we are the friends.  People need help to come to Jesus.  No one who has ever been saved became so without the help of people.  So don’t let physical issues keep you or your friends from pressing through to Jesus.

God put us in families with neighbors who should be our friends so that we can care for one another.  His clear command to love our neighbors is best done by doing whatever it takes to help them to know God’s provision for them and receive it.  The heart of the Great Commission (Go into all the world…) is first helping our immediate friends and family and then scoping out to the ends of the earth and those we do not know.  No one will come to Jesus without someone going out of their way to help them.

Now not all physical obstacles are in our body.  The building itself was an obstacle.  This is where the rubber meets the road.  What is the problem and how can we get around it?  It was no easy task but the solution that came to them was to lift him up onto the roof, break through the roof and lower him down in front of Jesus.  This is probably not the only thing they could have done, but it is what these friends of the man did.  The key is not the way, but the minds and hearts that partnered together in order to help a friend.  It is a holy task to take the time to discover what it is that keeps and individual from Christ.  IT is a holy endeavor to work to remove those obstacles.  Neither is it a pretty sight.  It will involve hard labor and difficulty.  But these are the sorts of things that love does.

Am I such a friend?  I may not have any paralyzed friends who need me to cut through a roof.  A real friend helps his friend to overcome those obstacles within and without in order to get to Jesus.  Yet, we are going to see that this man was not just a sick man who couldn’t get to Jesus.  He was also a sinner.  Yet, his friends helped him anyways.  Compassion.

Sin

The story builds up to the moment where the man is lowered before Jesus, obviously sick and in need of healing.  Yet, Jesus says the unexpected, “Man, your sins are forgiven you.”  What?  I came to be healed of paralysis not have my sins forgiven.  Don’t you know we are in public?  I didn’t want anyone to know I was a sinner.

Sin is our biggest obstacle to reaching Jesus.  O, sure the sin of OTHER people is an obstacle.  But, here we are looking at his own personal sin.  He was a sinner.  He wanted his paralysis fixed, but he needed his heart fixed.  Now there are some people who love to keep others in their sins.  These Pharisees and Scribes who were cynically watching Jesus that day were some of the biggest sinners.  They didn’t need physical healings but they needed their sins forgiven.  They did need touched by Jesus.  They could care less about the suffering of the people and that Jesus was healing them.  They didn’t see a miracle and rejoice.  Instead they went back to their plotting room and said, “We’ve got to kill this guy, or everyone is going to follow him.”  They didn’t care about their brothers and sisters physically and only pretended to care spiritually.  Jesus really does care about both.  Watch your own heart.  As Christians we can become so self-satisfied that we no longer have compassion for those broken by their sins.  We are called to help overcome these obstacles, not rejoice that you don’t have them.  The first way we can do that is to cease sinning against them and then love them despite their sin and try to bring them to Jesus.  Don’t settle for friends and family who are stuck in sin.  Fight for their souls in the name of Jesus.

“Which is easier to say?”  Jesus knows what they are thinking when he tells the man his sins are forgiven.  There is an irony in this question.  If you were a godly person it would be harder for you to say, “Your sins are forgiven,” because that is God’s job.  Yet, in a sinful world and as a sinful person, it would be easier to say that you can forgive sins because it can’t be seen.  Forgiveness of sins is an invisible thing.  But physical healing is obvious.  Now Jesus could have healed the man and then forgiven his sins.  But he does it the other way around for emphasis.  We think his greatest problem is paralysis.  In this world we strive to fix real problems, yet just not the most important ones.  Sin was the man’s most obvious problem to God.  If you could choose to have only one thing from God, you would be a fool to choose physical health.  The man’s amazing healing was Jesus way of proving he could forgive sins.  In fact, all of the healings Jesus did were not because he was on a personal mission to wipe out all sickness and disease in the world.  It was always a means to help the faith of those who were hearing him teach amazing things.  Now it wasn’t true because Jesus did a miracle.  The miracle was true because what Jesus was saying was taught all throughout the Old Testament.  The miracles were not supporting a man who was contradicting the word of God, but one who was fulfilling it.  “Behold, the lamb of God!”

This man left glorifying God that day and for good reason.  But notice the affect on the crowd.  Yes they were amazed, but a fear of the Lord had also settled upon them.  “What manner of man is this who forgives sins and proves it by healing paralysis?”  Signs can help us.  But if we do not have a fear of God no multitude of signs will persuade us.  Because we do not fear God, we become lazy in reading God’s Word and internalizing it.  We become lazy and resistant to listening to the Holy Spirit.  And then, when the Truth appears we kill it.  Why?  We do so because we have been saying no to Truth in so many little ways until we are insulated from Jesus.  Friend, don’t let obstacles keep you from Jesus.  He has already done the heavy lifting all you have to do is believe enough to push through these wet paper bags that remain in the way.

Obstacles to Jesus Audio