Community Group Study Notes
- On Sunday, there were different communicators preaching in each worship service at every campus, so we might not have all heard the same sermon – though each one was anchored in Mark 2. What is one thing from the message you heard that was encouraging to your own walk with Christ?
- Read Mark 2:1-12 out loud in your group, and split up the passage so that multiple people will be reading. What does this passage teach you about Jesus?
- What does this passage teach you about yourself? How is God using this section of the Mark’s Gospel to change your daily life?
- What is one action step you can take in response to what you heard on Sunday?
Well, good morning. It is great to be with you. Thank you for joining us. And maybe you're joining us online or maybe you've been catching us on TV or listening on the radio. Regardless if you're here, you're listening, whether it's in this room, in the East Worship Center or through technology. I'm just grateful to be with you again. If we've never met before, my name is Jay. I get this incredible privilege of leading our college age ministry, Vintage. It meets on Tuesday nights and we actually just had our kickoff this past Tuesday and I brought in some alpacas to the kickoff and you're like, "Jay, why would you bring alpacas to a kickoff at church?" And I'm like, "Well you got to know your generation. They love to take selfies. They like to take selfies with the interesting, weird, maybe even exotic things." And so college age, young adults who are loving taking pictures of alpacas.
Now I tried get some alpacas up here in the front but they said, "No, no alpacas in the building because they're known to spit." So hopefully we still do well together without the alpacas, is just so grateful to be here. I love being part of this community and this church, love being able to grow under the leadership here. There's a number of people in my shoes that step out of seminary and I stepped out of seminary back in 2011. And they just, they got to lead a church and they don't have mentors or a leadership team to look up to. Well, I've had that privilege and I'm grateful for it. I don't know what you came here today with what kind of expectation. Maybe you come every week. This is part of your routine. You're sitting in the same chair you've been sitting in for years.
Or maybe this is your first time here or perhaps this is your first time in a long time. I know that you came with some sort of expectation. Maybe you thought about it, maybe you didn't, but you have some sort of expectation. I want us to have the same expectation with these next few moments together. I want to expect to hear from God. And so I want to pray that together and ask that God would speak to us because whether it's Pastor Jerry, who's up here regularly or West or Pastor Deon or Jonathan, we all want to place ourselves as leaders here as ministers, as pastors under this book. And we not only want to talk about it, we want to live in and be examples of it because we honestly believe that you are in your best spot in your life when you're living under this living word of God. So I'm going to pray now and ask God to speak to us.
Father, just grateful to be part of a community like this, we can gather together in this place and in this space under the name of Jesus Christ. God, I pray that you would use these next few moments to speak to us, to speak to everyone listening to my voice, not because of anything I have to say, but because of what you have to say. So God, I'm praying that you speak in a personal and in a powerful way. And God, I pray the prayer of the Psalmist in 119 that you would open our eyes to see wondrous things in your word this morning. Thank you Christ. It's in your powerful resurrected name that I pray. Amen.
Now for my overachievers this morning, we're going to be hanging out in Mark 2-1-12. So if you want to head there right now, whether you've got your own copy on one of your devices, you can do that. But I want to give us some context. Pastor Deon talks about that, how important it is to know context and how it really helps us in terms of a passage of what's going on and knowing that, knowing kind of what happens before it, what happens after it. And I just want to give us some context in terms of we're finding ourselves in Mark chapter two, but what is happening in Mark chapter one? We in Mark chapter one that Jesus starts his ministry and so he comes down to the scene and he's doing some unique things. He's speaking about something new. He's talking about this new kingdom. He is saying the kingdom of heaven is here.
Now his listeners, their ears are really perking because talking about kingdoms in that day and age, that's a big deal. Talking about a world of kingdoms. He's talking about a new kingdom. The kingdom of heaven is here. Now, Jesus, he's teaching from the Old Testament scriptures. He's teaching kind of the same old things that his predecessors taught or his contemporaries were teaching, but he was teaching it in a new way. He was teaching with a new authority. People are recognizing this, so he's talking about this new kingdom. He's teaching with this new authority and then he's doing something wild, doing something crazy. He's making people new. He's making people new. Now I'm not talking about just Jesus is like, "Hey, take two of these. Call me in the morning." Healing headaches and back aches. Not to minimize those, but he's doing, I mean people who are blind now see, people who have incurable diseases, a disease that was a death sentence, he's healing them.
He's making people new, well, naturally that's creating a bus and he's in this region known as the Galilean region. They're near the sea of Galilee and there's a number of towns and so Jesus is going to each town and he's doing new things and that's creating a buzz so much though to the point where he has to continue to retreat away from those towns in the outskirts to get a break. And in Mark chapter two we find him returning back to one of those towns. So let's read this passage together and then talk about the implications it has for us today.
Mark chapter two starting in verse one, "A few days later when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. They gathered in such large numbers that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them. Some men came bringing to him a paralyzed man carried by four of them. Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then they lowered the mat the man was lying on. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, son, your sins are forgiven.
Now, some teachers of the law were sitting there thinking to themselves, why does this fellow talk like that? He's blaspheming. Who can forgive sins but God alone. Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts. And he said to them, why are you thinking these things? Which is easier to say to this paralyzed man, your sins are forgiven or to say, get up, take your mat and walk? But I want you to know that son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins. So he said to the man, I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home. He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, we have never seen anything like this."
Now there's a lot going on in this passage. Jesus returns home scholars and historians believe that Capernaum in that region was kind of Jesus' home base for his three and a half year ministry. And so he returns home and quickly finds himself cornered in a house, house's packed, loaded with people. If people were having a hard time getting in, I'm sure Jesus perhaps would have had a hard time getting out. It was filled with people and friends are there. And so we know that when we have a packed house and friends are over, stuff gets damaged.
Parents can attest to that, right? I know my mom can, bless her heart. My mom was a single mom. She worked two jobs just to provide for my sister, myself and my brother. My brother and I, we were a little crazy growing up. Actually, we were a lot crazy growing up, but my house tended to be the place where we hung out. And so naturally with boys we're playing sports, so football and soccer. So what happened? Windows would get broken. During the winter we play hockey in the living room on our knees, knee hockey, and you're like, well, this is just shooting. But all of a sudden it's now turning physical, we're careless with a stick. So there's holes in our wall or whatever. This is why I heard, this is why we don't have nice things a lot growing up.
But that was my house. And that's what happens when you have a packed house, friends over. But we see these four men that really care deeply for their friend and these men and that friend who couldn't use his legs, they thought his greatest need was to walk, maybe to walk again. We don't really know if he was able to walk and then lost it, or if he was born that way, we're not sure. But regardless, he wants to be like everyone else. He wants to walk again. But then Jesus cuts right to the heart of the matter and talks about this man's greatest need. Now the Pharisee were there. These are teachers. These are in some ways, Jesus' contemporaries, they're there. They're not there necessarily because they want to sit under the authority of Jesus. No, we often see that they're there because they got a little bit of jealousy going on and they're looking for ways to kind of poke at or discredit Jesus.
He's got some momentum going and so this time, Jesus flexes his powers so quickly that they don't even get a chance to say it. He already looks at them and says, "I know what you're thinking, what's easier to say?" But Jesus wanted to do something in that moment that no one else was expecting him to do. And so I want to talk about three implications in this text for us today because God in his infinite wisdom gave us this story. It's recorded for us. So what does it have to say to you and I students, young adults, adults over 2000 years later, what does this have to say to us today? I got three things for us in our time together today. First one is this, that Jesus forgives sinners, that Jesus forgives sinners. Verse five Jesus cuts right to the chase. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, "Son, your sins are forgiven."
These men, they thought their friends' greatest need was to walk again, was to be able to use his legs like everyone else. But Jesus starts with his greatest need. "Son, your sins are forgiven." I am doing this to demonstrate that the son of man has authority, that there's an authority that Jesus has, that he can forgive sin. So you and I need to embrace the need for forgiveness. You and I need to embrace the fact that we need to be forgiven. It's because of this word sin. Maybe you're familiar with it. Maybe you're not. It's because you and I said no to God in his way, said yes to our own and sin just like on a human level, causes a break, causes a fracture in a relationship.
So you and I need to be forgiven because God said, "Here's my commandments. Here's my statutes. This is the way I want you to live life. This is how I view the human experience on this planet." And you and I said, "I like that one. I don't like that one or that one's easy. That one's way too hard." You and I need to be forgiven. Now I know we live in a culture about self-care and self-love and so we get messages like pretty, pretty, please, don't you ever, ever feel like you're less than, less than perfect. That's right. I brought pink to church with me today.
Well, here's the reality. You are less than perfect. Now I could spend a series, I could spend a month talking about how you are beautiful because you're created in the image of God. I could spend weeks on that, but I could follow that up with talking about how you are also a broken image of God and for many of us, I don't have to spend too much time talking on that in terms of brokenness because we've already felt in an experience, that we've already recognized that, but we need to embrace the need for forgiveness. The prophet Isaiah, really good with his words. The book of Isaiah is sometimes called the mini Bible. It's got 66 chapters and the Bible has 66 books.
In chapter 53 he writes a prediction kind of predicting who Jesus is going to be. It reads like a poem and in verse six it talks about the relationship between us and this Messiah. Says this, "We all like sheep have gone astray. Each of us has turned to our own way and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all." We all, that's everybody. That's you. That's me like sheep.
Here's a little free information for you. The Bible referring to you and I as sheep, not really a compliment. It's really not a compliment. Sheep, they struggle without a shepherd, they struggle. Sheep without a shepherd are known to do some pretty dumb things. There's been sheep that have known to just continue day after day go and get stuck in the same spot in a fence, day after day, the same sheep, and if it weren't for their shepherd, they'd be stuck there. They'd probably starve to death. Sheep have been known to follow each other off a cliff. My mom used to say to me, "Wait, your friends are doing that? Well, if your friends jumped off a cliff, would you jump too?" Well, if you're a sheep, you probably would.
Sheep have been known to walk over other bodies of sheep in their herd that are deceased because they drank polluted and contaminated water, but they didn't recognize that something's wrong. You know what I mean? He's coming up and he's like, "Ooh, Susan doesn't look so good. Yeah. Joy's not, that can't be the water. Water's got to be great." The Bible refers to you and I as sheep, and that's why Jesus comes and says, "I'm the great shepherd." But you and I thought we knew what to do in this world. We thought we knew how to live life perfectly. We thought that our standards were the best.
Then we pressed them up to God up against God's standards, not even close. It was a light bulb moment for me when I recognized that the gap between me and Jesus and God's holiness is far bigger, far greater than the gap between me and a totalitarian leader like Hitler, far bigger. Sam Houston, is governor of multiple states. He's the reason we have the name for the city in Texas. He lived an incredible political life, but he also lived a hard life. Multiple marriages. He came to faith 14 years into his second marriage and when he was baptized, the preacher said, "You now have new life in Christ. Your sins are washed away." And Sam Houston said, "God help the fish."
He recognized something that he was a sinner that needed forgiveness. There's this past Tuesday, I talked on the passage of the sinful woman and the Pharisee that the Pharisee Simon invited Jesus over for dinner and Jesus talked about and demonstrated God's extravagant grace and demonstrated how the sinful woman and the Pharisee, the teacher of the law needed the exact same grace. You and I need to embrace this need that we need to be forgiven, and Jesus says, "I can do that." As it says in the second part of Isaiah 53:6 "And the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all." That sin that break, that fracture. Jesus says, "I'm taking it." I wonder how many people disappointed or disenchanted, maybe they wanted to try some level of spirituality or church or wanted to adopt some things from Jesus thinking that that was their greatest need.
Maybe they thought Jesus would perhaps give them more in this life. Like if I follow Jesus' example, if I listen to his teachings, I'll get more of this, success in my career, success in relationships, maybe financially, whatever it might be. Maybe if I learned from Jesus, I get there and Jesus says, Jesus did not come to bring us more in this life. He came to give us more than this life. Things that are far greater than the temporary world that we see around us. Jesus came to give us more than this life and it all starts with forgiveness. So Jesus forgives sinners. Second thing I pulled from this passage is Jesus frees sinners.
Verses 10 and 11, "But I want you to know that the son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins." So he said to the man, "I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home." We see this time and time again where Jesus is healing. Jesus is restoring people. The woman at the well, the one caught in adultery and he's always sending them. He's saying, "Go." He says, "Your sins are forgiven. Now go." Jesus is always sending. I wonder if some of us fall into the trap or fall in the trap of being a prisoner of our past.
My wife, Gillian and I, we really like to travel. So we got married and we both had something in common. We didn't have everything in common. She's a woman, I'm a man. But this thing we had in common, we both wanted to travel and we both enjoyed traveling. We wanted to see the world and we wanted to see the world together. So for these first few years of our marriage, we've made it a point to leverage our resources so that we could take trips. And so some weeks, I'm literally just eating oatmeal and peanut butter and canned chicken and Jasmine rice and that's all I'm meeting all week. So we want to travel, but we also want to do it. We have a budget and so when we first started traveling, I was one of those people, a notorious over-packer.
Do I have any over-packers in the room? Anyone that can relate with me. All right, thank you. You make me feel more comfortable. I mean, I was just that guy like, "All right. Oh, we're going to spend a week in the outer banks. All right. I want all three shades of my denim. I want dark denim, I want light denim. All right? Well, maybe I should bring a three piece suit. I might get invited to some black tie affair. Who knows?" Well, Jay, you're at a beach house, you're not getting invited anywhere. And then shoes, of course. Right? Now, first of all, my defense is I'm Italian, so me and shoes, okay, it's in my blood. But yeah, shoes, difficult, right? I'd want to bring a pair of slides. I'd want to bring a pair of tennis shoes, basketball shoes. And then of course I want dress shoes and we want options.
I want black, I want Brown, right? Notorious over-packer. Well, when you're trying to travel on a budget, and that can be difficult, especially with all of these fees associated with checking luggage. So my wife and I are like, "Hey, we want to do our best to travel with a personal item like my backpack and carry-on luggage." So we had an awesome opportunity to travel together just a few weeks ago before Vintage started back up for me. She's a school teacher in Williamsville. So before her school year starts, so we had an opportunity to travel and so we didn't want to pay the baggage fees for this airline. So that's what we went for. And now my carry on suitcase is perfect dimensioned wise, what I don't realize is that this airline ways your carry-on luggage. And so I got to the counter and I was seven, eight pounds overweight. So I had a decision to make, the airline attendant's, "You can either pay and check this bag now or you can lighten your luggage."
So it's the worst to have to open up your suitcase in public, right? I mean it's like inviting strangers into your bathroom and bedroom. That's like, no, that's awkward. But anyways, I managed a way to figure out, I did get rid of one of my shoes by the way, pair of my shoes did not make it on this trip. I just wonder how many of us have this wrong view of God, this false view of God that he's like an airline attendant, that we come up with the stuff we've done in our life, that's our baggage and God looks at us and says, "Yeah, that's too heavy. That's too much. You can't go this way. You can't enter with that."
I wonder how many of us are prisoners of our past. See, Jesus told him to take his mat, pick it up, and go. Sure his mat is his story. He can talk about how Jesus made him new, "This is what my life was like before Christ. Now I'm new." Jesus didn't want them to just stay on that mat. He didn't want him to be a prisoner of that mat. That mat, he wanted to be his platform, but he wanted him to go. Pastor Jerry and I grew up in two different States, two different decades. We had a similar story. We have a story that as teenagers we made some decisions, some mistakes and those decisions and those mistakes they could have labeled us, but Jesus says, I have something far greater than that. I free sinners. The writer of Hebrews says this in 12:1 therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
Lay aside every weight and sin. I think those are sins of present, but I also think those are sins of the past that you and I do not have to be a prisoner of our past, that you and I don't have to live in that label. Jesus says, "I've come to forgive you and I've come to free you and I want to send you, I want you to go. I want you to go. I want you to demonstrate how I make things new." Sure, you can carry your mat with you. You can talk about your story. I want you to go. Jesus says, "Because of my grace, you can go, you are not disqualified. There's nowhere I can't send you. I want to forgive you and so I can free you." Last thing I pulled from the text is this. Jesus is a friend of sinners. Now, this story is an incredible example of the power of friendship, the need for friendship, we see a man whose friends did some incredible things. They carried him when he needed to be carried. They found a door or an opening when a door was closed.
They lifted him up, they let him down. This is an incredible example of the need for friends in your life. People who can carry you, people who can find opportunities, people who can knock down doors that aren't opening for you, people who can give you advice. This again is a reminder of how important it is to be involved with community groups here at The Chapel. And so we're having signups this fall. And so I want to encourage you, you might be like, "Jay, my life is too busy for a community group." And my point is because your life is busy, you need a community group, you need it, you need other eyes, you need other voices. We need that in our lives. So I want to encourage you because in community that's where you hear from others and God uses those relationships. And man, this thing with Jesus is done best in circles, not in pews.
But it also reminds me of this, that Jesus, he is a friend of sinners. He says this to his disciples and he wanted them to continue to share that message so you and I would get these same words in John chapter 15, "Greater love has no one than this to lay down one's life for one's friend. You are my friends if you do what I command, I no longer call you servants because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends for everything that I learned from my father, I have made known to you. You are my friends. Greater love has no one than this to lay down one's life for one's friends." Jesus calls you friend and I wonder if there's anyone here today or anyone listening, is got this is the lie that God doesn't really like you.
Maybe you even believe that, like God's forgiven me, but you got that underlying, and maybe this is because of other relationships or just a false view of God where you just think like, "Yeah, God had to forgive me. He's a God of grace. So of course he's going to forgive me and God's not going to change his mind on me because he's the same yesterday, today and forever. So of course God's going to do that. But that's kind of because it's who he is. It's kind of what he has to do. That's part of his job description, so to speak." But I'm here to tell you today that God likes you, that Jesus likes you. He calls you friend, that Jesus is a friend of sinners. In fact, Jesus only has friends that are sinners. Think about it. There is none like him. All of his friends are sinners. And so don't let that false view affect your relationship with God.
Maybe I'm preaching to those of us this morning that have done some stuff, that have recognized, we've done a little bit more than just tell our parents a white lie or cheated on a math problem. And we've done some stuff that would maybe cause us to doubt if Jesus likes us or if Jesus can send us or if Jesus could actually forgive us. This text demonstrates to us the incredible grace of Jesus and what he wants to do in the lives of people. So if I could boil it down for us today, I'd say this forgiveness and freedom are found in Christ. Forgiveness and freedom are found in Christ.
If you're looking for forgiveness in your life, look no place other than Christ. If you're looking for freedom in your life. Freedom is found in Jesus. Some of us have already recognized that we've looked for it in other places and realize that's just not the case. That's not there. Jesus has it. Some of us need to recognize that we need forgiveness in our life this morning. We need to step off that scale of, "Oh man, I'm a pretty good person." You need to step off that scale and say, "No, I need Jesus. I need his standard. I need his forgiveness. I need his righteous."
But when we find Christ and we find the life we have in Christ and we live in that forgiveness, then we have this freedom to live life with our creator, to live life where we know God even more importantly, we are known by our God and all of that, all of that is found in Christ. That's what he offers the son of man who has this authority to say, "You're forgiven. You're free, now go, go and live that life that I created you to live. Go and share about the new kingdom. Go and share about how I make things new. Go and demonstrate to people how I made you new."
That's the invitation Jesus has and it's an invitation to everyone, for a God who longs that none should perish, but that all would have life and forgiveness and freedom in Christ. So my question for you today, whether you're here, you're listening or you're watching, is are you living in that forgiveness? Are you living in that freedom? I found that as a teenager, radically changed my world, changed my life. I pray you find that same forgiveness and freedom in Christ because it's there. Let's pray together.
I'm personally grateful for God's grace. I'm also grateful for your graciousness and kindness to give me a few moments of your time, but it's really not about me. It's not about what I have to say. It's all about God and what he has to say. So on Tuesday nights, I say the same thing. This is where you get to talk about God on a personal level because he's a personal God. Talk about what he was speaking to you about or what he revealed to you in our time together. Maybe you need to live in that forgiveness. Maybe you need to live in that freedom. Maybe you need to be reminded that God likes you. I'm not sure. I don't need to know what God does. But maybe you're here and you want that forgiveness found in Christ, but you've never experienced that forgiveness like you've never said, "Jesus, I want your forgiveness. Forgive me. I want you to come into my life. I want to give you an opportunity because it's just your relationship with God just starts with a simple prayer.
God can hear your thoughts. You don't even have to say it out loud, but at one point in my life someone helped me with some words and I'd love to do the same for you. Your prayer can go like this, dear God, I recognize I need forgiveness and I recognize Jesus is offering it. And God, I want freedom and God, I want the freedom that comes with Christ so I don't want to do life anymore on my own. I want to do life with you Jesus. I want to follow you. I want to be your friend. Head bowed, eyes closed. No one looking around. If you said that prayer, I'd love to just remember you in a closing prayer. Would you just raise your hand and look right at me?
This is your moment. I had a moment like this. I see you. I had a moment like this, it was incredible for me. It was powerful for me. That was huge. Raise your hand. Look at me. Just keep putting your hand up as I pray for you. I'm not going to ask you to do anything in this service, but I just want to pray over you. God, I see hands, you see hearts. I pray that you would be so real in these moments, in the lives of these people. God and I pray that you would just be unmistakable and your forgiveness and freedom would be in their life. Thank you for those who have your hands up, for the rest of us God, if we're a people that truly grasp how much we've been forgiven, then we're going to demonstrate what that grace looks like in all areas of our lives, in all of our contacts.
And God, if we recognize the true freedom that Jesus has to offer, we are going to live in such a way that is unmistakable, that demonstrates the power of Jesus, that he is the chain breaker, that he makes us overcomers. So God, we want to live in that reality because you say it's real. So we wouldn't want to miss out on that. So may we be a church and a community that demonstrates those things so that everyone has every opportunity to hear and experience the love of Jesus Christ. God, we thank you for these moments together knowing they're a gift and we take these moments together and use them as we go our separate ways. I pray all these things in the precious Holy name of Jesus Christ. Amen.