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Lowell Brueckner

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The Healing of a Sinner


Mark 2:1-12

Message by Dan Brueckner, our oldest son and pastor of Swanton Christian Church
(another of Dan's messages can be seen on this Blog, September 21, 2019)

Dan preaching in Swanton
Jesus returned to Capernaum and it was reported that He was at home. This is where Jesus made His home. He moved from Nazareth to Capernaum. In Luke’s account, chapter 5, you find Pharisees and teachers of the law from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem, so there was a great crowd gathered. There wasn’t room to get in through the door.

The key part of this passage is that Jesus preached the Word to them. It would be easy to go over that part and enter the story of the healing of this man, but the key throughout the Gospels is that Jesus preached the word. In one place, they looked for Jesus to stay with them, but he said, “I must preach the Good News of the Kingdom of God in other towns.

Capernaum was a dark place and everywhere that Jesus went, He fulfilled Scripture. The Scripture said that He would be born in Bethlehem and He fulfilled that Scripture. Then He fled to Egypt and that fulfilled Scripture. The Scripture said that He would be called a Nazarene, so he was raised in Nazareth and now He goes to Capernaum, lived there and that became His home. This also fulfilled Scripture.

I want to read a little about Capernaum from Matthew 4:13-17: “And leaving Nazareth, He went and lived in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, so that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles (a derogatory statement) – the people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned.” From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’”

We have an idea of what He was preaching about, when He made the move to Capernaum, a spiritually dark place. These people lived in trespasses and sins, dead to the things of God. They were willingly ignorant of the Gospel. This was a horrible place to live. They dwelt in darkness, because their deeds were evil. The second death loomed over them, not only the first death, but if they didn’t repent, they would experience the second death. Jesus came to this dark place and I’m glad that He did, in order to show that there is no place so dark, but that Jesus can go to it. He leaves other places and goes to this dark place. He is light and wherever He went, He effected the darkness around Him. The people had never seen light like this, as their eyes began to open. His message was to repent! It was their only hope.

In Luke, when people mentioned to Jesus about Pilate killing people and mixing their blood with their sacrifices, Jesus said, “Do you think they were worse sinners, because this happened to them? No, but except you repent, you will all likewise perish.” Jesus brought up His own story about the tower of Siloam. He said, “Do you think that that tragedy happened to people, who were worse sinners than others? Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” His message was continually ‘Repent!’ This is the background behind this story.

Positive Disturbances

“They came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men.” This paralysis kept this man from ever getting out of bed, restricted to simply lying in one place. Sometimes a paralysis could bring about an early death. He brought no income to his family, but he hears people passing by, saying that Jesus was back in town. He must have heard about this message of repentance and he was thinking about his own sin. It weighed on him and he was under conviction.

He had a desire to see Jesus, but he could not go without help. Some men cared enough about him, loved their neighbor as themselves, and took time to care for him. As others rushed by, without thinking about him, he had a soul and he was loved by God. These did something about his situation. They shared the burden, picked the man up and told him, “We’re going to get you to Jesus.” They came to his side. I don’t know if he was married, but if he was, his wife might have been thinking, “Please don’t get his hopes up, so that he comes back, having them dashed.”

“When they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him, and when they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay.” There were people filling the yard and they couldn’t get near the door. They may have tried to push their way through; they were very determined, but they couldn’t find a way. When we begin to pray for somebody, we run into obstacles, and things can get worse instead of better. You may wonder why you even started to pray and you are tempted to give up. These men could have been saying, “We just can’t do it. We tried, but there’s no room. Nobody can say we didn’t try.” But, they didn’t take ‘no’ for an answer. They had come with a purpose, and they would not be satisfied, until they brought this man before Jesus.

Daughter, Anna, and wife, Shelley sing.
Maybe you’re facing an obstacle today and you feel like giving up, God is encouraging you today through the faith of these four men. They thought they would try the roof. Many houses those days had an outside stairway leading to the roof, so they carried him up there. Can you imagine what happened below as Jesus was preaching and noise was heard on the ceiling; dirt and dust begins to fall into the room? It maybe even got into people’s eyes… a little more disturbance, than a baby crying in a meeting. This was a major disruption, to the point that nobody could hear what Jesus was saying. They had to make a large opening in the roof, and they demolished it to get this man through. Nobody had ever tried this before; it was an unusual move, but it was effective. God can use disturbances.

At a Christmas program one year, the husband of a church member came along with his wife and he was “hammered”… a bit drunk. It was an interesting service, because he would start to sing songs, before the congregation began. I preached for a little while and he interrupted my sermon, asking a question. But it had to do with salvation, so I answered his question. Someone else came up to speak in the program, and this husband stood to his feet and slurred, “Well, what about this,” much to the embarrassment of his wife. At the end of the program, I was thinking, “Well, at least we got through the service.”

It was a few days later that we learned there was a young boy in the meeting, who was listening to the questions and the answers. Of course, we quickly answered the questions, because we thought the program was more important. But that night, Christmas Eve, the boy was under conviction for sin and couldn’t sleep. His mother got out of bed and asked him why he was crying. He said, “The man asked a question and the pastor told him how to get right with God. I can’t sleep, because of my sin." The mother and the boy got on their knees beside his bed and he received Christ.

The disturbance of coronavirus may be something that God can use for His glory. A disturbance can be a good thing and this time in Capernaum it was. The paralytic only saw the faces of his helpers, as they lowered him into the room, and looking on the face of Jesus for the first time, he heard these words. “When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven.’” Jesus saw their faith… What did other people see? Some saw four troublemakers, demolishing a roof, thinking, “What do you think you’re doing?” Jesus saw their faith and without faith it’s impossible to please God. The first thing that Jesus said was, “Your sins are forgiven.” Maybe the helpers thought, “That’s not why we brought him. We want him to be healed.” But it shows you that man’s greatest need is forgiveness of sin, regardless of his physical need.

God knows what you are thinking

This man was under conviction of sin. The reason I can say this is because in Matthew’s account, chapter 9, before Jesus said, “Your sins are forgiven,” He first said, “Son, take heart.” He heard Jesus’ message on repentance and the first thing he heard from Jesus was, “Your sins are forgiven.” This man couldn’t physically jump, but inside, he leaped for joy, because his sins bothered him more than anything else. There is joy in heaven over one sinner that repents. The angels rejoiced with this man. The Amplified Bible says, “The penalty is paid; the guilt is removed and you are declared to be in right standing with God.” That’s what it means to have your sins forgiven and when Jesus said it, it happened at that moment. There was no questioning about taking a period of time, to see if something happened. One moment he was on his way to hell, and in the next moment he was on his way to heaven. He was not told to do something in order to merit the fact.

It is more important that the cancer of the soul, our sins, be removed. It’s more important than healing of coronavirus. Jesus is the only one, who can forgive your sins. This story tells us that only God can forgive sins. As those words came from Jesus’ mouth, I can hear a gasp in that room, and in their heart, a group of people present, were critical of those words. “Some of the scribes were sitting there and questioning in their hearts, ‘Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?’” There were all kinds of people sitting around Jesus. There were those who were concerned for their souls, and there were those who were just sitting there… occupying space. If you are listening to these words, you should know that if you will repent, Jesus will forgive sins today. “Immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to them, ‘Why do you question these things in your hearts?’” Jesus knew their thoughts and He knows yours right now, whatever they are. How many times do we read in Scripture, “Jesus knowing their thoughts, said…?” He goes right to the heart of the matter.

When I was in Macedonia, I was sharing the gospel with Boșko and his wife. He was listening carefully, but his wife had no interest in such things. I just began to read from the Scriptures, showing that they were sinners and needed a Savior. Much later on, he told me that he thought I was God in the flesh. The reason that he thought so was, because he thought I could read his mind. As we read through the Scriptures, Romans chapter 1, where there is a list of sins, he was thinking, “How does he know that I’m doing these things?”

He was really blunt with me and it was because, he thought, there was no use in lying, if he was talking to God in the flesh. I was really shocked, because he told me everything about himself. There weren’t too many gospel tracts in the Macedonian language at that time and when a new one was printed, I didn’t have time to visit him that day, but I wanted him to read the tract. So I drove to his house and gave it to him and said, “Read this.” Just before I came, he had been thinking on the subject presented in the tract and it answered his questions. He was convinced: God knows what I’m thinking.

He got a new job and he now worked alongside Christians from the church. He just couldn’t get away from God. His wife was dying of cancer and she had always laughed at me, but now, she wanted me to come to their home. I was scheduled to preach that night in northern Macedonia and should not have been home. However, I was physically exhausted, called the pastor and told him, I just couldn’t make it. I was ready to crash on my bed, when the phone rang, but I didn’t want to talk to anyone. Shelley told me, who was on the phone and I was shocked, so I took the phone and then, I went to their house. She was very sick and asked me to pray for her. I said, “I’ll pray for you, but you have another cancer that is worse yet; it’s the cancer of your soul. So again, with her husband sitting nearby, I went through the gospel with her. I asked her, “Do you want to repent of your sins and find life in Christ,” and she answered, “Yes, we will.”

Her husband had been hearing the gospel for three years, so he knew to say, “Wait a minute, this is personal, you have to speak for yourself and I have to decide for myself.” So now, she said, “Yes” for herself. I said, “All right, Boșko, your wife made the decision herself - what do you say? You’ve been listening for three years and you still haven’t repented of your sins.”  He sat for a long time and I waited for as long as it took for him to answer. Finally, he said, “Yes” and we all prayed together and they received Christ. The next day, they came to the house to give thanks to the Lord. I say these things just to make the point, that a person will become brutally honest, when he understands that God knows every thought of his heart.

Physical evidence that revealed a more important spiritual result

So Jesus goes on: “Why do you question these things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk’? “Which of these two options will put a strain on omnipotence? Of course, neither one. One statement would bring a visible result, the other would not, so He goes on… “But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins – he said to the paralytic – I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.” The purpose was for them to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins. Both are impossible with men, but the four helpers brought the paralytic to the right One. The word of forgiveness was backed up by a word of healing!

The men, who let him down through the roof, had no intention of lifting him back through the hole. Jesus told the paralytic to go home and that’s what he did, rejoicing and glorifying God. The crowd that he couldn’t get through before, opened up, as he carried his pallet and walked out among that massive crowd. I don’t know who fixed the roof, but there are more important things that the Bible has to say to us. On your death bed, what will be most important to you? What you have accomplished or not accomplished, or whether or not your sins are forgiven?

Daughter, Ruth, at piano recital
“And he rose and immediately picked up his bed and went out before them all, so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, ‘We never saw anything like this!’” In Luke’s gospel (5:25) it says that he, specifically, glorified God: “He picked up what he had been lying on and went home, glorifying God.” I’m sure you all know the song, It is Well with My Soul. One verse, in particular, blesses my heart, each time it is sung. I can picture Mr. Stafford sitting and writing these words, My sin… he writes it down. Then, he got so excited about what he was going to write next that he puts down a comma and follows, Oh, the bliss of this glorious thought. Then another comma, and he wrote on, My sin, not in part, but the whole, Is nailed to His cross, and I bare it no more, Bless the Lord, Bless the Lord, Oh, my soul!

Psalms 103:1-3, a Psalm of David, showed that he is contemplating the same thing: “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases.” The Psalmist had the same thoughts as Stafford: My sin, not in part, but the whole. Bless the Lord O my soul! This former paralytic went home, bragging about Jesus. Peter said (1 P.2:9) “You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” Jesus went into this dark place and found a man living in darkness and death, and said to him, “Son, your sins are forgiven you.” This man went out, proclaiming the excellencies of him who called him out of darkness into his marvelous light.

Light in the darkest places

The land of Naphtali, the land of Zebulon, did see a great light and it brought life to the whole territory. Already, in that town lived an official, who had a son on his death bed. He found Jesus in Cana, walking 15 to 20 miles from Capernaum, and told Jesus, “My son is home. Please come and heal him.” But Jesus said, “Go, your son will live.” His servants met him before he got home and said, “Your son lives.” He asked when he became well and they said, "About 1 P.M". The official exclaimed, “What! That was the time of day, when Jesus said ‘Your son lives.’”  Arriving at his home, not only he believed, but his whole household. Before Jesus moved into town, there was a family of believers established. Light was beginning to shine and people were transformed by the gospel, repenting of their sins and putting their faith in Him. They became ambassadors and representatives, people who reflected the light of Christ.

Is there someone today, like those in the crowd ‘sitting there’, occupying space, criticizing everything Jesus did?  They didn’t care about their sins. You need to leave that group and go, where others are rejoicing and joining in heaven’s party. You need your sins forgiven and Jesus said, “Whoever comes to me, I will in no way cast out.” Turn to Christ, if you haven’t repented of your sins, and I can guarantee you that He will not cast you out. You don’t want to die in your sins, but die free from your sins, and in right relationship with God.

Concerning you, who have someone especially that you are praying for, remember the four, who brought the man to Jesus. Ask others to join in prayer with you… share the burden. If it is someone who needs Christ in your family, covenant with others to bring that one before Jesus. You will run into obstacles, but persevere, continue in prayer. In the end, people will be saying, “We’ve never seen anything like this!” God still does these impossible things.

I close with a story of a 60-year-old lady, Debbie, who lived kitty-corner from our church. She had been badly abused by her husband and other men, physically, emotionally and in many ways. She was suicidal and an alcoholic, as well. She lived in darkness and fear. She wanted to come to church, would leave her home and would stand on the sidewalk outside the church, but couldn’t get in the door. She could hear some things happening inside, but was too afraid to enter. After three months of attempting, she got up the courage to come in and sat in the back. Anyone looking at her, could see the fear in her face and as soon as the meeting ended, she left.

But she came again and again. We had a meal after one service and she was invited downstairs, but she had a fear of basements. We held prayer meetings in the basement, so she wouldn’t come to those. Little by little, as other women gathered around her, praying for her, encouraging her to look to Christ, she began to change. She eventually came to the prayer meetings. One night after prayer, she came to me and said, “Dan, I did it; I gave my heart to Christ!” It took time, it took effort, something like breaking through the roof.

Then she wanted to visit her husband. He is a Viet Nam veteran, is in a home for seniors and has been on hospice care for over a year. Counsellors warned her not to go there, because it affected her badly and afterwards, she had difficulty recovering. But she went now and told her husband that she forgave him for all that he had done. She reads Scripture now to him, incessantly, and prays with him. I went once while she was there and saw her with her arms around him. Previously, she could never cry in his presence, because that was a sign of weakness to him and he would become very angry. Visiting one day, something saddened her and she began to cry. He patted her head lovingly and said, “Oh Debbie, what’s wrong.” That night in prayer meeting, excitedly she told everyone, “That’s the first time in 40 years that he kissed me.”

One time, she asked the chaplain in the home to come with her and pray with her husband. The chaplain sat with tears in his eyes and said, “I read his files. I don’t know how you can even come here. I don’t understand how you can forgive him.” She was shocked and thought, “Aren’t you a chaplain? Aren’t you supposed to know about these things?”

She wanted to serve God in any way possible, so we gave her the keys to the church, and she took on the ministry of toilet cleaning. She helped clean in any way possible, and when she went to her job, she bragged to her co-workers, “Look, they gave me the keys to the church.” She was as excited about that key, as someone would be about a gold medal won at the Olympics. The women in the church were like the four men who came around the paralytic and carried him to Christ. Our ladies carried Debbie to Christ.

There were many difficult times and a lot of time spent, but now, Debbie is bearing the burdens of others and sharing the gospel with them. Debbie was also afraid of water and she told me, “Dan, I want to be baptized, but don’t be surprised if I drag you underwater with me, when you baptize me. I never go in the water, because I’m scared to death of it.” We prayed about it and she did just fine.  

Christ will come to the darkest places. If you’re there, and you have light, you will have an effect on the darkness. Carry someone to Jesus by prayer and do whatever you can to help that person. Share those burdens with one another. Thank you, Lord, for your word. Thank you for this man, whom we will meet up in heaven, because his sins were forgiven. He’ll tell us his story with more details. Give us more stories like these, so we can say, ‘We’ve never seen anything like this!’ Like Debbie’s testimony and others listening today with their life story. You are a merciful God and you care about us. Help us to be faithful, having compassion to carry others to you… Loving our neighbor as ourselves. Help us to effect the dark area where we live with the light of the gospel for the glory of God. We ask these things in Jesus’ name. Amen.  

Lowell Brueckner said...
May 11, 2020 at 4:35 AM  


Hi! I sent you the song, "In You Will I Trust" via email and I hope you can open it without problems.

Are you Andreea (nee Stan)? If so, I remember you well. Please let me hear from you and also I hope you continue to use this blog.

Blessings Lowell Brueckner

Deya said...
May 11, 2020 at 12:36 PM  

Yes it is me, and yes I have received the song. Thank you! How lovely to see you are still active in the Lord's work. Am glad I found this blog.

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