This week's sermon from Mark 2:1-12 is a case study in felt needs. In this text a paralytic man is brought to Jesus by his friends. His felt need is obvious; he wants to be mobile again. His friends are radical in their desire to see Jesus do something for this need. They rip the ceiling out of Peter's house and drop the man down into the presence of Jesus.
But look at what Jesus does! He doesn't address the felt need and then preach the gospel to him. Instead, He has the audacity to talk about the man's sins being forgiven. What? He started with the gospel and only addressed the "felt need" under the scrutinizing eyes of the Pharisees and scribes. In the process He teaches and exemplifies the fact that He is God. He teaches that man's greatest needs are not his temporary felt needs, but the need for forgiveness of sins.
How unlike so much of what the modern church does in the United States! We might create a 40 day program (Paralytics with Purpose) and spring a version of the gospel on them at the end which downplays sin or ignores it altogether and call it evangelism. Or we might send a medical missionary to give this man some physical therapy and hope that he will wonder why the missionary is such a nice guy and ask him why he is giving him free health care. But this is not the model we have here. Jesus moved past the man's felt need and went to his real need. He saw beyond the temporal to deal with the eternal. Further, the Lord started with the gospel and didn't tack it on after the healing.
In this text there are a series of warnings for us regarding how we hear the Word of God (vss. 1-2) and encountering Jesus Christ (vss. 3-12). I hope that this message will challenge, encourage and equip you for the sake of His Kingdom.