The Faith Skylight Company
Mark 2: 1 – 12
A single guy decided life would be more fun if he had a pet. So he went to the pet store and told the owner that he wanted to buy an unusual pet.
After some discussion, he finally bought a talking centipede, , which came in a little white box to use for his house. He took the box back home, found a good spot for the box, and decided he would start off by taking his new pet to church with him.
So he asked the centipede in the box, "Would you like to go to church with me today? We will have a good time."
But there was no answer from his new pet. This bothered him a bit, but he waited a few minutes and then asked again, "How about going to church with me and receive blessings?"
But again, there was no answer from his new friend and pet. So he waited a few minutes more, thinking about the situation. The guy decided to invite the centipede one last time.
This time he put his face up against the centipede's house and shouted, "Hey, in there! Would you like to go to church with me and learn about God?"
This time, a little voice came out of the box, "I heard you the first time! I'm putting my shoes on!"
As we follow Jesus through the Gospel According to Mark we come to one of my favorite miracles in the life of Jesus. It’s the story where four men tear up a roof and lower their paralyzed friend until he’s hanging in front of Jesus. These four friends dug a skylight in a house so that they could get their friends to Jesus. But this same skylight allowed Jesus to see these four men. And this unintentional skylight also filled the house with light.
Part of our job as followers of Jesus is to build skylights to bring light to dark places. In this message I’m going to challenge you to apply for a job working in the Faith Skylight Company. I’m actually going to have you fill out a job application.
If you’ve ever had a job interview or filled out an employment application, you know it can be a nerve-racking experience. You can go online and find some humorous statements people made during job interviews. Here are seven of my favorites:
1. “Could I have a cup of coffee? I think I still may be a little drunk from last night.”
2. “I was fired from my last job because they were forcing me to take anger management classes.”
3. “If I get a job offer, how long before I have to take the drug test?”
4. “Can we speed this up? I’ve got to be somewhere else.”
5. “It’s best for your other employees if I don’t work with people.”
6. “I’d prefer to work for a company that is very lax on tardiness.”
7. Provide an emergency contact number: “911”
I seriously doubt any of those applicants got the job. Let’s read about four tactical friends who started the first faith skylight company two thousand years ago.
Mark 2: 1 – 12
2 And again He entered Capernaum after some days, and it was heard that He was in the house. 2 [a]Immediately many gathered together, so that there was no longer room to receive them, not even near the door. And He preached the word to them. 3 Then they came to Him, bringing a paralytic who was carried by four men. 4 And when they could not come near Him because of the crowd, they uncovered the roof where He was. So when they had broken through, they let down the bed on which the paralytic was lying.
5 When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven you.”
6 And some of the scribes were sitting there and reasoning in their hearts, 7 “Why does this Man speak blasphemies like this? Who can forgive sins but God alone?”
8 But immediately, when Jesus perceived in His spirit that they reasoned thus within themselves, He said to them, “Why do you reason about these things in your hearts? 9 Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise, take up your bed and walk’? 10 But that you may know that the Son of Man has [b]power on earth to forgive sins”—He said to the paralytic, 11 “I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.” 12 Immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went out in the presence of them all, so that all were amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!”
I have so many questions. I wondered what the homeowner said when he saw his ceiling start crumbling; dirt and dust starts falling on Jesus and on everyone in the room. If I had been the homeowner I would have said, “Hey, who’s going to pay for this damage?” As the four guys keep creating an unintentional skylight I can’t imagine Jesus could keep talking, there was too much distraction. But because He knows all things, He realized what was happening. Perhaps He said something like, “We interrupt this sermon to bring you a paralyzed man. Please direct your attention to what’s left of the ceiling.”
I wonder if the paralyzed man felt any fear from this ordeal of being lowered by ropes to hang in front of Jesus. So, what did you do today? “Oh, I was just hanging around Jesus for a while.”
But I think the main focus of this miracle should be on those four unnamed friends who brought their paralyzed buddy to Jesus. In verse 5 it says, “When Jesus saw THEIR faith...” He saw the faith of those four friends. You may think that faith is invisible, but according to Jesus, faith can be seen. Can Jesus see your faith? Do you have an invisible faith or a visible faith?
These four guys formed the Faith Skylight Company. I think God wants everyone of us to be employed in this company. I’m going to ask you to apply for a position. But first you probably need to know what your job description will be if you work for the Faith Skylight Company. Here it is: Creating skylights so people can meet Jesus.
Real carpenters build real skylights so the light of the sun can brighten dark places in a home. When you work for the Faith Skylight Company you create openings to the light of the SON can brighten dark places in someone’s heart.
If you’re interested in applying for a position, here’s the job application. Check each box that applies to you.
1. I CARE ABOUT HURTING PEOPLE
The story begins with this statement, “Some men came, bringing to him a paralytic.” These four men had a friend or a relative who was suffering. He was paralyzed, and there was no way he could get to Jesus on his own. These friends had heard Jesus was in Capernaum and they were convinced Jesus could help their friend. They had an unshakable faith in Him.
They remind me of the kid who was playing a sandlot baseball game. He was playing third base and an onlooker walked up and said, “What’s the score?” The kid pounded his glove and said, “Forty-two to zero, their favor.” The man said, “You’re getting beat pretty badly, huh?”
The kid looked and him and smiled and said, “Nope, ‘cause we haven’t even been up to bat yet!”
These four friends believed if they could somehow get their friend to Jesus that Jesus could make a difference in his life.
We’re surrounded by hurting people; the question is do you care enough to bring them to Jesus? We have a lot of information that we share, but people don’t care about how much you know until they know how much you care.
There were probably hundreds of sick and weak people in Galilee, but these four men concentrated on just one. That’s good advice for us. Would you ask God to sensitize your heart and lead you to just one hurting person who needs Jesus?
We should care for people’s spiritual condition. We should care about how our friends are doing spiritually. My best friends are the ones that care about my relationship with God, those that check to see how I am doing spiritually, those that encourage me to be a better person. I know that they care and concern from me is not temporal, but rather is eternal. That is the type of friend I want to be and want to have. A friend’s greatest desire should be for spiritual well being. If you want to be a good friend check in on your friend’s spiritual condition. Hold them accountable to living a godly life.
There are hurting people living in spiritual darkness. In order to work for the Faith Skylight Company you’ve got to care enough for them that you’ll do everything you can to let the light of Jesus fill their darkness.
2. I’M WILLING TO WORK WITH A TEAM
The Bible says this paralyzed man was “...carried by four of them.” They teamed up for their friend. They did as a team what none of them could have done individually. Can you imagine one of the friends trying to carry the paralyzed man? Two or three might have been able to do it. But because the cot he was lying on had four corners, a team of four people made sense.
We can learn a lot about the importance of team work simply by observing flocks of geese. Winging their way to a warmer climate, they often cover thousands of miles before reaching their destination. Have you ever studied why they fly as they do? It is fascinating to read what has been discovered about their flight pattern as well as their in-flight habits. Four come to mind.
1. Those in front rotate their leadership. When one lead goose gets tired, it changes places with one in the wing of the V-formation and another flies point.
2. By flying as they do, the members of the flock create an upward air current for one another. each flap of the wings literally creates an uplift for the bird immediately following. One author states that by flying in a V-formation, the whole flock gets 71 percent greater flying range than if each goose flew on its own.
3. When one goose gets sick or wounded, two fall out of formation with it and follow it down to help and protect it. They stay with the struggler until it's able to fly again.
4. The geese in the rear of the formation are the ones who do the honking. I suppose it's their way of announcing that they're following and that all is well. For sure, the repeated honks encourage those in front to stay at it. As I think about all this, one lesson stands out above all others: it is the natural instinct of geese to work together. Whether it's rotating, flapping, helping, or simply honking, the flock is in it together...which enables them to accomplish what they set out to do.
You and some friends who know the Lord should team up with the goal of helping another friend who doesn’t know the Lord. You might never be able to help that person all alone, but if you enlist some people to help you, a team can accomplish much more than an individual. If you want to work for the Faith Skylight Company, you must we willing to work with a team.
3. I SEE OBSTACLES AS OPPORTUNITIES
The Bible says this team of friends faced several obstacles. “They could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd.” The first obstacle was the crowd. I’ve seen the ruins of Capernaum many times. The lanes between the houses are so narrow there was barely enough room for two people to pass. The house was full and the narrow lanes were filled with people wanting to catch the words of Jesus inside the house.
Then there was the obstacle of the house itself. The houses were built with black basalt stone and then covered with plaster. There was only one door, and there were only a few small windows cut at the top of the walls under the ceiling. There was no back door or window to use to bring in the stretcher. The roof of the house was another obstacle. On top of the stone walls, wooden timbers were used as ceiling joists. A mixture of palm leaves, mud, and clay were mixed into a thick mortar and placed in layers between the timbers. When each layer dried another layer was added until there was a thick, waterproof roof. Then more palm leaves were placed on top of the roof. These roofs were thick and hard as a rock.
But these four friends didn’t let obstacles stop them. They saw these obstacles as opportunities. They kept on moving toward Jesus. How do you react when you’re confronted with obstacles?
"Booker T. Washington was born in slavery. Thomas Edison was deaf. Abraham Lincoln was born of illiterate parents. Lord Byron had a club foot. Robert Louis Stevenson had tuberculosis. Alexander Pope was a hunchback. Admiral Nelson had only one eye. Julius Caesar was an epileptic.
But these men made history in spite of their handicaps. And there was Louis Pasteur, so near-sighted that he had a difficult time finding his way in his laboratory without glasses. There was Helen Keller, who could not hear or see, but who graduated with honors from a famous college.
"Got a handicap? Call on the Lord. No problem is too big for Him, or too small. He will make everything together for good' -- if you trust Him."
Obstacles are often simply opportunities for faith.
If you want to work for the Faith Skylight Company, you’ve got to see obstacles as opportunities.
4. I LOOK FOR CREATIVE WAYS TO SOLVE PROBLEMS
There were obstacles, but these men of faith found a way to overcome the obstacles. The Bible says, “They made an opening in the roof above Jesus and, after digging through it, lowered the mat the paralyzed man was lying on.”
Let’s listen in on an imaginary conversation among these men of faith. “Wow. That’s a lot of people. We can’t get in the front door.” Another says, “You’re right. Hey, look, see those stairs to the roof? Nobody’s up there. Let’s head up there.” So they carefully carry the cot with their friend on it. They get to the roof and see the thick timbers with the dried mud and leaves between each timber. “That’s too thick to dig through with our hands.” They put their friend down and say, “Now, don’t go anywhere. We’ll be right back.”
One returns with a metal hoe from a garden. Another found a crude axe for cutting trees. The third returns with a shovel. The fourth returns with four thick strands of rope. Then they start chopping and digging through the roof. They aren’t concerned about the expense or the damage. Desperate faith leads people to do desperate things. Their only thought is getting their friend to Jesus.
We’re always going to face problems. But people of faith should always be looking for creative ways to solve problems. A friend told me about a businessman from NYC who was going to take a month-long trip to London. He went to his local Manhattan bank and asked to borrow $1,000 for the trip. He even drove in his new Cadillac as collateral. He was a good customer, so they gave him his money. When he returned he paid back the full $1,000 plus $6 interest. The banker said, “I’m curious. You’ve got plenty of money; I wonder why you wanted to borrow $1,000 for this trip?” The businessman said, “Where else could I park my new Cadillac in a safe place in Manhattan for $6 a month?” He was thinking creatively.
So, think about your friend or friends who need Jesus. What are some creative ways you can team up with others to expose that person to the light and life of Jesus Christ. Have two or three of your friends invite a mutual friend to see “Heaven is for Real” or “God’s Not Dead” at the movie theatre. Use acts of kindness. Write them a note telling them how much you care for them. If you want to work for the Faith Skylight Company you will need to come up with creative ways to solve problems.
5. I DON’T QUIT EVEN WHEN CRITICIZED
What would you do if someone started digging a hole in your roof? You’d probably call the cops. What would you do if you saw someone digging a hole in your neighbor’s roof? You’d call the cops. I think it’s reasonable to think that the homeowner or neighbor of this house probably yelled up for the men to stop destroying that roof. But they didn’t stop. They kept on digging.
Jesus didn’t tell them to stop. Why? Because Jesus knows people matter more than buildings. Jesus knew there were two miracles that were going to happen as a result of that skylight. First, Jesus said, “Your sins are forgiven.” That’s the greatest miracle in the world. That’s what Jesus wants to say to each of you today. “Your sins are forgiven.”
But even Jesus was criticized. The religious leaders were thinking, “Who does He think He is? Only God can forgive sins!” They were right. Only God can forgive sins. Jesus knew what they were thinking, just like He knows what we’re thinking right now.
He said, “So, what’s a bigger miracle? Forgiveness or healing? You all expected me to heal him. Well, just so you will know that the Son of Man has power to forgive sin, go ahead, friend, grab your bed and walk out of here.”
And that’s what the man did. I can imagine Jesus looking up at the four workers in the Faith Skylight Company, and He smiled at them as they were high-fiving and hugging each other.
POEM: DON’T QUIT
When things go wrong as they sometime will,
when the road your trudging seems all up hill,
When funds are low and debts are high,
and you want to smile but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit
rest if you must but please don’t quit.
Life is queer with it’s twist and turns
as every one of us sometimes learns
and many a failure turns about
when we might have won if we’d stuck it out.
don’t give up though the pace seems slow
you may succeed with another blow
Often the goal is nearer than
it seems to a faint and faltering man,
often the struggler has given up,
when he might have captured the victor’s cup,
and learned to late as the night slipped down
how close he was to that victor’s crown....
Do you have friends or family members who need Jesus? Don’t give up on them. Even if you are criticized don’t stop enlarging that skylight. Just keep letting them see the light of Jesus. When Jesus sees your faith, He’ll smile, too.
Of all these characters in this story, which one do you see most like yourself? You may relate to the paralyzed man. You may not be physically paralyzed, but you are bound by sin and you need to have Jesus forgive you. Jesus is in the house today. If you will come to Him and honestly say that you are in need and ask Him for His help He will say to you the same thing He said, to that paralyzed man, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.”
For others of you who are Christians already, you see yourself like the four friends. You want to work for the Faith Skylight Company. You want to open ways for your friends to meet Jesus.
But there were other people in this story. They were the one who were crowding in the house, even the religious leaders. In other words there were two kinds of people there. Some were on the way to Jesus and some were IN the way of Jesus.
It’s true of our church today. You are either actively bringing people to Jesus, or you are basically just coming, sitting, listening and going home.
What do you think would happen in our church if a couple thousand of you made up your mind that you weren’t going to be “sitting by” anymore? What would happen next Sunday if a couple thousand of you brought your friends, relatives, and work associates who need Jesus?
The Boss is offering you the job today. Will you come to work for the Faith Skylight Company? The pay isn’t very much, but the retirement benefits are out of this world!
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