(Matthew 9:2-8; Luke 5:17-26)
Suggested further reading: Philippians 2:7-11
Some persons enjoy great spiritual privileges yet make no use
of them. No city in Palestine appears to have enjoyed so much of
our Lord's presence as did Capernaum. It was the place where he
dwelt after he left Nazareth (Matt. 4:13). It was the place where many
of his miracles were worked and many of his sermons delivered.
But nothing that Jesus said or did seems to have had any effect on
the hearts of the inhabitants. They crowded to hear him (v. 2).
They were amazed and astonished at his mighty works (v. 12), but
they were not converted. For this they drew heavy condemnation
from our Lord (Matt. 11:23-24).
We are apt to suppose that it needs nothing but the
powerful preaching of the gospel to convert men's souls, and that if that
gospel is brought into a place everybody must believe. We forget
the amazing power of unbelief and the depth of man's enmity
towards God. The Capernaites heard the most faultless preaching and saw
it confirmed by the most surprising miracles, and yet remained
dead in trespasses and sins. Nothing seems to harden men's hearts
so much as to hear the gospel regularly, and yet deliberately prefer
the service of sin and the world.
However, what pains men will take about an object when
they are in earnest! The friends of the sick man overcome all obstacles
to bring him to Jesus (v. 4). By pains, labour and perseverance
the friends gained for him a complete cure. In any activity there are
no gains without pains.
Pains and diligence are just as essential to the well-being
and prosperity of our souls as of our bodies. In all our endeavours
to draw near to God, in all our approaches to Christ, there ought to
be the same determined earnestness shown by the sick man's
friends. We must allow no difficulties to check us and no obstacle to keep
us back from anything which is really for our spiritual good. Men
who are not in spiritual earnest about salvation have no time for
Bible-reading, prayer and hearing the gospel. They have time for
money, business, pleasure and politics!
For meditation: Modern Christians work shorter hours than
ever, but always have less time for God than their forefathers. Why?