Jesse Bradley discusses the concept of hope, focusing on the story of Jesus healing a paralytic man in Mark chapter 2. He emphasizes that hope is relational, received, and retold. Hope grows the closer one gets to Jesus, and it is received from Jesus, not from religious practices. Hope is active and requires determination, courage, and faith.
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Welcome to The Bonfire. We’re in season four. Thanks so much for joining us. The Bonfire is a place where we can draw near to God. God is light. God is love. God is a consuming fire, and we’re grown in our faith together. In this season, we’re going to focus on Jesus, looking at the gospels, the life of Jesus, and the hope that Jesus brings. Hope is a confident and joyful trust in someone or something. Jesus, in these stories, changes lives. As we read these stories, we realize Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and He is bringing the same hope today. When you think about hope, there’s going to be some people who already know they’re in a low place, and they’re missing some hope. They’ve lost some hope. It’s time to rediscover hope.
For other people, it’s misplaced hope. It’s easy to put your hope in things or a job, money, and situations instead of putting your hope in the Lord. For others, they’re eager to grow in their development leadership. They want to grow in their impact, and they know that hope’s essential for everyone. We all need more hope. Who doesn’t want more hope? When you read the stories about the life of Jesus, His teaching, His actions, His miracles, hope starts to grow, hope increases, hope rises. No one brings more hope than Jesus. I believe that God wants to fill your heart, mind, and soul with His hope. This is an overflowing hope. That where you live, work, learn, or play, you’re going to have this hope that’s too great to be contained. We’re going to look at seven different stories from the life of Jesus.
Today, Jesus healing a paralytic. You can turn in your Bible and read this story in Mark chapter 2, and here’s the situation. It starts out with a problem. We have a man who’s paralyzed, and he’s limited. He desires to be healthy, and his friends see this. There’s four who see their friend afflicted and want to make a difference. They want to do something. When there’s a problem in your life, don’t get discouraged. Don’t be in denial. Don’t try to hide from God. Instead, when there’s a problem, bring it to Jesus. Here’s an example of a courageous group of people that are not okay with the status quo. They know there’s some healing. They know there’s some potential. They know that Jesus can make a difference. This group of people has faith. It’s always good to have faith. Faith includes bringing your problems to Jesus and trusting Him with the results. Faith is active, and this is hope in action.
There’s a problem, and I want you to think about a problem you’re facing. What’s keeping you up at night? What’s stressful for you? Is it relational? Is it financial? Is it physical? Is it spiritual? What problem are you facing right now, and what are you doing with that problem? Maybe the paralytic was discouraged, but here comes these four friends, and I like to highlight from a problem to a team. There’s a team in this passage, and God works in teams. Does God work individually with people? Yes, of course, but God also works with teams. It’s at both end. A lot of times, I feel like in America, in the West, we see everything through an individual lens. Me, what am I going to do to solve my issue? And yes, we want to be proactive. At the same time, there are so many instances, and there’s going to be situation after situation in your life where God will bring a group of people. He’ll use many people. He’ll use a team of people.
When God wants to change the world, He raises up teams. Jesus sends them out two at a time. Jesus chooses 12. What an awesome team. Then in churches, churches are filled with teams. Teams who serve. There’s teams of ushers and greeters and tech and worship and singing and teachers and administration and leaders and all kinds of different teams. The church is one family consisting of many different teams where people gather with a shared purpose and passion. They serve together. They want to make a difference together in this world. Teams are significant. When you get on a great team, you bring out the best in each other. When you’re part of a championship team, there’s a culture. When you’re part of a locker room that’s healthy, you enjoy the relationships. As you do that, boldness grows, passion grows, and you start to accomplish goals together that you could never accomplish alone.
It takes four of them to lift up this man, this paralytic, and all four are needed. All four are playing a role. They’re all physically active. They’re active in their faith. You can do both at the same time. You can be taking action using your gifts, and it’s very physical, and at the same time there’s a spiritual element. The spiritual, the physical, and the emotional. They’re connected. You can’t separate, divorce, or compartmentalize those.
In this story, you’ve got a team of people who are active with their strength lifting the man, and then they’re also active with their faith together, and they’re active with hope. They have hope before they see the miracle. They have hope before they see the turnaround. Hope comes first. They are lifting up their friend, and they’re doing it with hope. They’re doing it with the hope that God is good, and if our friend gets close to Jesus, there’s going to be some good things that happen. Hope in action, and we have a team.
This team has a mindset. This team is going to face a lot of obstacles. First, there’s the effort of picking up a paralytic man and carrying him, and it’s probably exhausting. As they’re carrying him, they run into another obstacle. Now, where Jesus is located, there’s a huge crowd around. Jesus in a house. Huge crowd around the house.
They’ve got the second obstacle, not just how are we going to transport the paralytic, but now, how are we going to actually bring the paralytic to Jesus because of this crowd? They can’t make it through the crowd. The crowd is not going to move out of the way. The crowd is not going to say, “Oh, here you go to the front.” The crowd’s not in that kind of mood. They’re just not polite, kind, unselfish. They’re not thinking about the paralytic. The crowd, they all want to get closer to Jesus. There’s a lot of people, probably a lot of sick people, people with infirmities, and it’s like, “Wait your turn.” Or, “Jesus is teaching, so we’re not going to have you come up front right now. Jesus is in the middle of a message. Don’t interrupt Jesus.”
Then the third obstacle, this house, there’s no entry point. Not only do you have the crowd, but you got the house. How are you going to get close to Jesus? This team is trying to think through solutions. They come up with something that’s radical. They break through the roof of the house, and as they do that, there’s one more obstacle. How’s everyone going to respond? How’s Jesus going to respond? Are they going to be in trouble because they just broke through the roof and lowered the man? Are they going to be in trouble because they interrupted the Savior? Are they going to be received by Jesus, or is this going to create a lot of tension? Are they going to be rebuked? How is it going to play out? And you have the teachers of the law as well, and as they’re in attendance, those are religious leaders. How are they going to respond?
There’s a lot of components here. Life is messy. Life is complex. There’s a lot of different aspects when you enter a situation. For this team, they need to continue to overcome the obstacles. It takes a mindset of, “We’re not going to stop until we get close to Jesus.” Do you have that mindset? You’re not going to stop until you get close to Jesus. If it takes fasting, praying, repenting, time in scripture, serving, whatever that is, the promise in the Bible is drawn near to God, and He will draw near to you. They are determined. There’s a lot of determination in the story. They’re determined to be close to God. I want to encourage you today to be determined to be close to God.
If there’s nothing else you hear today, hope will come when you are determined to be close to God. This is inspiring, the way these four friends are taking risks, overcoming obstacles not for themselves but for their friend. When you take that posture that you are going to overcome challenges and it’s altruistic, it’s not for you and your own benefits. It’s for someone else. God blesses, God sees, God understands, God moves. Be in that situation often where you are bringing someone to Jesus, where you are bringing their requests in prayer on behalf of them, where you are bringing them to resources. You are leading them to a relationship with Jesus. Notice the mindset that they have. Embrace that mindset because you’re going to have a lot of challenges.
When God gives you a great idea and God gives you purpose, it also is going to require passion, passion and fire, fire in your soul. When you have that, obstacles are not as daunting. When you have God’s Spirit moving through you, even though you might have five obstacles, you’re not going to stop or slow down. You’re not going to quit. You’re not going to go sideways. You’re not going to look for a shortcut. You’re going to keep going towards the goal because you know that God has something good. He’s called you. He’s leading you, and it’s worth it. It’s worth overcoming the obstacles, all these obstacles that they’re going to overcome, and we get to see it played out now.
See, after the story, it’s easy to say, “Oh, that was cool. They broke through the crowd. They broke through the roof. They didn’t stop. They brought their friend.” We celebrate it now, but in the moment, the feeling’s not great. The feeling’s not great when they see a crowd in a house and they’re not sure how everyone’s going to respond. That’s the faith in action. That’s fueled by hope. When you’re in the moment, it might not feel great, but then you’re going to look back and you’re going to say, “God moved. That was one of the very best experiences I’ve ever had.” When you go on a missions trip, not everything feels great. The schedule is getting crazy. There’s challenges you didn’t see. There’s results that didn’t go how you expected. But what happens if you stay the course and finish that missions trip? You come back, and you’re telling that story for years. Like, “Yeah, we didn’t have this, but God did this.” And that’s what ministry looks like.
Listen, you’re on a missions trip every single day. Some people think a missions trip is only when you sign up, you go a couple of times during your life, and you go overseas. No, you’re on mission where you are right now, live, work, learn, and play, as much as if you signed up for a trip that went overseas for three weeks. You are on mission every day. This is a mission. This is a vision. This is following Jesus, bringing people to Jesus. The Bible says, “You are an ambassador, you are a minister, and you are a priest.” If you know Jesus, that’s who you are. What does a priest do? A priest brings people to God. A priest is a bridge. An ambassador goes to where people are and brings the love and light of Jesus, the truth of Jesus, a minister going to where the problems are going, to where the pain is coming alongside of people caring for people, and then watching God bring healing.
We’re seeing this in action, and it’s a powerful story. As they break through the roof, we have an interruption. Jesus is ministering, and then what happens? Here comes this paralytic through the roof. Notice how Jesus responds. He doesn’t get angry. He doesn’t tell them they made a mistake. He doesn’t rebuke them. He enters into the interruption. When you have an interruption during the day, I encourage you not to be too rigid, not to be too close-minded. As you look at the ministry of Jesus, sometimes he goes to people. Other times people come to Him, and it really looks like an interruption. Who just came to Him? Who broke through the roof? Who touched Him? Who brought the kids to Him? There’s so many instances where it looks like the action’s going one way and then something happens. Someone comes, and now Jesus interacts. You’re going to be the same way.
You’ve got a plan when you wake up. You got a schedule. You got a calendar. You got a to-do list. It’s good you have a plan. It’s good you have some focus. But where God is going to move during the day is in those moments where you didn’t expect it. A coworker just stops in your office and starts to cry and share their heart. Someone sends you a text, says, “Could you pray for this?” Things happen during the day that are not planned, and God often does His greatest work, and the greatest blessings come not when it’s all planned, but God moves, and it’s in the middle of the interruptions, the problems, some of the chaos, the tension. God moves in that place. So don’t have a view of God that this is how ministry is always going to work. You’re going to sit down, you’re going to plan it out. It’s going to go exactly as planned, and then God’s going to show up.
God does show up, God does honor plans, and God does work through plans, and that’s good. It’s both end. Not only does God work that way, but God also does incredible work with nothing you could plan, blessings you didn’t see coming. It could be a career, a job, a promotion, a role, a project, a relationship, a friendship, a marriage. There’s so many things that you won’t plan, but God will provide, and Jesus knows how to be flexible. He knows how to hold plans loosely, and He knows how to adjust. So as this is happening in the story, notice Jesus’s response, and let’s be like Jesus. That’s the goal. Let’s become more like Christ. Notice how Jesus’ response to this interruption. Jesus responds with love, compassion. What does He say to the paralytic? Your sins are forgiven.
We would expect here that it would all be in the physical space, but Jesus starts with a miracle. Sins are forgiven. There’s no greater miracle than salvation. When you put your trust in Jesus, you are born again. You will spend eternity with God. You will have a home in heaven. Jesus prepares a place for you. You have peace with God. You will see God face-to-face. No one can separate you from the love of Christ. You have a new identity. You are a new creation. I can keep talking about all of the blessings that come when you put your trust in Jesus. This relationship, this decision, sins forgiven. The paralytic has faith. Jesus forgives sins. As a paralytic comes to him, the miracle of salvation. There’s no greater miracle.
For generations, children and families in the poorest places in the world have struggled to find clean water, food, and a chance for a brighter future. But all that can change in this generation. You can be part of the solution. Go to worldconcern.org. As you participate, this is what will happen. Villages will be transformed far beyond where the road ends, and children and families will receive the love of Christ. You can make a difference. Go to worldconcern.org. Let’s be part of the solution together.
Then there’s a second miracle. In this context, you have the religious leaders who are critical of Jesus, who are trying to undermine Jesus. As Jesus brings the first miracle, the forgiveness of sins, then Jesus, knowing their hearts, brings another miracle to validate, to show who He is. He is the messiah, the king of kings. He is the Son of God. He is the savior of the world. The long-awaited Messiah is here. What does he do? He heals the paralytic, “Take up your mat, walk.” This paralytic just received a double blessing, the forgiveness of sins and healing in his body. Jesus brought both. Jesus has healing power. Jesus can heal your body. He can heal. If your mind isn’t right, He can renew your mind. Jesus can heal your soul.
If you have a lot of pain and disappointment you’ve been going through and you feel lonely, you feel misunderstood, Jesus is there. Jesus will touch you in different ways that no one else can. Jesus will touch you in the depths of your being. You’ll go from despair to hope. You’ll go from feeling lonely to feeling loved. Never underestimate how Jesus has changed your life, how He’s provided for you, how He’s protected you, how He’s been so close to you, how He’s been your strength, how He’s brought you joy, how He’s given you a sense of purpose. There’s nothing to be ashamed when it comes to Jesus.
There’s no reason to be quiet about Him, to be casual about Him, to be lukewarm about Him. He has done nothing but good. In this passage, He’s bringing a miracle. He’s healing. He’s restoring. How encouraging is this for the friends, the four friends who took the risk and they came near to Jesus? Now look what Jesus has done. The glory of God permeates off the pages of scripture as you read what Jesus accomplishes. Never forget who Jesus is and what He does. They’re together. Who He is, from that flows out what He does. They’re consistent. They’re aligned. Jesus says He’s the light of the world. He brings that light. Jesus said He is the bread of life. He feeds the multitudes. Jesus says He’s the Messiah. Blind eyes are open. When He says something, he does it.
Jesus says, “I’m the resurrection of the life.” And He raises up Lazarus. Who He is, what He’s done, whenever you read the Bible, always look for who is God? What has He done? And as you do that, you’re going to be built up in your faith, and you’re going to understand who you are and what God has called you to do. This group of five right here, they’ve just experienced something life-changing. As you think everyone would be happy. You know what? They’re praising God. The Bible says they’re praising God. What happens? Now we’ve got a controversy because the religious leaders are threatened, and they say, “Who is this Jesus? Who is this that says He can forgive sins? This is blasphemy.” And they charge them with that in the middle of this miracle.
When you see God do something special in your life, don’t be surprised if the enemy attacks. Don’t be surprised if a couple of people try to undermine you. Don’t be surprised if not everyone wants to celebrate with you. Oftentimes, there’ll be a couple of people who go against you, try to throw some shade, and they stir up some trouble. The religious leaders here, they say it’s blasphemy. If Jesus was not God, this would be blasphemy. But if He is God, and He is, this isn’t blasphemy. This is bold truth. Jesus forgives sins. It’s clear. This is a revelation. He’s making it known, He is the Messiah. He knows you have to be God to forgive sins, and He knows He and the Father are one. He knows that he is God. He’s both God and human, and He has authority. All authority in heaven and earth has been given to Him. He forgives sins because He’s God.
They miss that, and there’s tension. They want to take him out. They’re thinking in their minds, “How can we get rid of Him? How can we kill Him?” Because if God shows up, you either bow down, trust Him, and worship Him as Lord, or you try to remove Him, silence Him, and kill Him. Because they don’t want to trust and follow Jesus, they want to kill Him. Hope is rugged. Hope is not just this shiny veneer. Hope is gritty. Hope, in these moments, continues strong. They have hope. It doesn’t matter what the religious leaders say. They know what they’ve seen. They know who Jesus is.
Now, let’s focus in our last remaining minutes on hope, and as you think about hope from this passage, first of all, you’d say that hope is relational because hope is not just principles. There’s truth. There’s facts here, but hope is relational. Hope grows the closer you get to Jesus. They have hope, and this hope is based on who Jesus is. Hope is relational, and I want to encourage you to walk closely with God. If you abide with Jesus, you’re going to bear much fruit. If you walk close with Jesus, you’re going to live a life of hope. Our God is the God of hope, and he will fill you with joy and peace as you trust in Him. It’s not only physically close. It’s the trust.
Yes, walk close with God. To walk close with God. It means abide, trust, rely, listen, submit. As you do that, God’s going to bring hope. This is a real hope, a raw hope, a strong hope greater than your challenges. So hope is relational. Then we also see that hope is to be received. Hope is not religious. Hope is relational. The religious leaders, they don’t have hope. Jesus has hope. It’s relational, and then receive it. The religious leaders want to reject Jesus here, but the five that break through the roof, they want to receive the hope. Hope is relational. Receive it from Jesus. Hope is not religious. If all you have is religion, you’ll reject Jesus and reject hope.
Religion without Jesus doesn’t save your soul. Religion without Jesus doesn’t satisfy. Religion without Jesus will leave you searching. Why? Because religion alone is empty. They have a relationship, they receive hope, and then from that, they’re going to retell the story. People are praising God. This paralytic is going to retell his story. How many people in that city do you think come up and ask him, “What happened to you? I thought you couldn’t walk.” And what’s the paralytic going to say? Jesus healed me. You don’t always have to say a long testimony. Jesus changed my life. Jesus healed me. You’re right. My life did turn around. It was because of Jesus. You say it your way, your style, but give God the glory. How wrong would it be for the paralytic to not say anything about Jesus? “Oh, I see that you’re changed.”
“Yeah, I’m changed.” That’s all? That’s the whole story? “Hey, you can walk now.”
“Yeah, I can run now. Want to see how fast I am? That’s it. That’s my time in the 40. That’s how fast I am. Aren’t I awesome how fast I can run?” Wouldn’t that be a weird twist to the story? That’s not what happens. When Jesus heals and you see a blind man, John chapter 9, he just keeps giving the glory, “I don’t know. I was blind. Now I see. Jesus did it. He’s the one. Talk to Him.” It’s like, “Jesus heals. He changed my life.” Give God the glory in your life. Don’t act like your job, your motivation, your effort, the fruit of your labor, don’t act like that was all you. Be quick to say Jesus helped me.
It doesn’t matter. You’re going to get a range of responses. I’ll tell you that right now. If you’re just trying to keep everyone happy and you don’t want to rock any boats, you’re not going to talk about Jesus, but take that risk, that relationship risk, retell your story. Hope, in this story, it’s relational. It’s received. Then you retell the story of the hope that Jesus has brought to you.
Here’s a couple of things I heard that have been hopeful this week. Men struggling with pornography, but getting real and getting honest, getting accountability, being set free, going in a new direction, choosing hope, choosing purity, choosing Jesus, doing it together. There’s sin in our lives that wants to stop our potential. Jesus came to set the captives free. Jesus’s hope transform you. You could be physically a paralytic. You can also be emotionally. You can also be spiritually, and sin wants to master. Sin wants to steal, kill, and destroy. You break free in Jesus’ name so that you can run for the Lord. You can walk for the Lord. You can talk for the Lord. You can be all God’s designed you to be. Break free from sin.
Here’s another story of hope that is so exciting to hear. This is siblings, and there’s a brother who, after 30 years, has decided to follow Jesus. After 30 years, can you imagine praying for your sibling for 30 years and waiting and wondering, “Is this person ever going to turn to God?” Amazing. Incredible. It’s never too late. Don’t ever give up on someone. My grandfather came to know Jesus in his 70s, and then, by God’s grace, I led my grandma to Jesus in her 80s. It’s never too late, and this sibling made a decision to follow Jesus and the joy. When you’ve been praying for someone for 30 years and you see their life change, you know they’re going to be in heaven. You know they love the Lord. There’s just not much of a greater joy than when you see people you love turn to God.
One other story that stood out to me. There’s a parent who’s been praying for their daughter, and the daughter was prodigal. The daughter grew up with faith. A lot of people grow up with the Bible. They grow up with faith and what happens over time, especially young adults, and beyond that, sometimes they just keep going away. They wander, they rebel, they sin, and they just keep going. This prodigal came home and said, “I’m sorry. I want to come back to God. I want to be close to you. I want to find a church. I want to get involved with Bible study.” All this turnaround, the hope. From the Bible, God changes lives. Jesus does it. It’s His hope, hope and action. What do we see today? God is working. Jesus’s power is awesome. His hope sets people free, and that could be something physical that God wants to bring healing in your life right now.
Would you draw close to Jesus and ask Him for His touch? Ask Him to come into the situation. Come into the problem. Be determined to go to Jesus. Maybe it’s fasting for you, praying, continuing to ask. Seek God, bringing friends in, praying together. Go to God with what’s holding you back, receive His hope, and then tell your story. It could be, He’s going to set you free from a sin pattern that’s been in there, negative for years. Now, right now, God wants to set you free with his hope, and it’s going to be a change. You’re going to see that sin is disgusting, and you’re going to walk in purity. Or maybe you’ve been praying for someone, and you’re like those friends carrying the paralytic to Jesus. Don’t give up. Go through the crowd. Go through the roof. Don’t give up. Who cares how they respond? Go to Jesus and keep serving Him. Be faithful. Be faithful. Be determined. Be courageous, and keep going. God is going to meet you there.
That’s my encouragement today. As we begin this season of The Bonfire, we’re looking at stories of Jesus’s life. Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever. What He does in the Bible, He’s doing today. We want to receive His hope. Hope is relational. Receive it. Retell your story and give God the glory. If you’ve never put your trust in Jesus, make that decision today. If you want us to cover a specific topic, let us know. If you could rate and review this podcast, it’s always helpful to share this with your friends. If this message today blessed you, share it with your friends. We love you. We appreciate you. Let’s keep growing in our faith together. That’s why we gather at The Bonfire.