When Crowding around Jesus does harm...
"And behold, some men were bringing on a bed a man who was paralyzed, and they were seeking to bring him in and lay him before Jesus, but finding no way to bring him in, because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down with his bed through the tiles into the midst before Jesus." Luke 5:18-19
Is it possible to be around Jesus, but be blocking the way to Him?
According to this passage, a paralytic man, who had no way of coming to Jesus without his friends carrying him, was blocked from coming to Jesus through the doorway, or conventional means, "because of the crowd." Thank God that the friends faith (which we will look at later) did not give up, but found another way to Jesus. But the most pressing question is, why did the friends have to resort to this? Why didn't the crowds clear a path to Jesus? If we are not careful, we can become much like the crowds of this day, gathered around Him, but with our backs turned and blinders on to true need and purpose.
Consumerism and Apathy
Are there things in our lives that get in the way of Jesus? For me as a Pastor, and living in America/Western Culture, I think the one thing that is a hindrance to others is how comfortable it is to gather around Jesus. Most of us who read and write English have access, and have had access, to the organizational church and the Gospel message for all of our lives. This creates an easiness and "consumeristic" approach with listening to Jesus, and can, if we are not aware, become second nature. And when access is simply reduced to a day, a place, or the same group of people, we run the risk of exclusivity and forgetting the true purpose of Jesus and His justification of guilty, sinful, paralyzed people.
Blinded by Selfishness
And personally, the message of the crowds that pricks me the most is the pure selfishness that they exhibited. How long had these men been carrying their paralyzed friend trying to get him to Jesus? And right when they get to the house, here these able bodied people who had been listening to Jesus, for who knows how long, are blocking the door. And moreover, they could care less! It's easy to be critical of the crowds. But more times than not, this is the way my relationship with Jesus is reflected to others.
Capturing Souls for Jesus
Proverbs 11:30 says "The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and whoever captures souls is wise." This is what the friends of the paralyzed men understood that the crowds didn't. They knew that this was about a friend that was not only paralyzed physically, but was most importantly paralyzed spiritually, because of his sin. And he needed his sins forgiven or he was going to spend an eternity separated from God in hell. And that is the beauty of this account, as the friends lower the paralytic to Jesus, he sees their faith and says, "Your sins are forgiven." Jesus recognized saving faith, not to heal of the physical ailment (though he did later), but to bring a son into the Kingdom of God for all of eternity.
Are you a friend or another person in the crowd? Is Jesus simply someone you have been blocking the way to, or are you finding any way you can to bring others to Him. Let us become a people capturing souls for eternity.