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GETTING THE CLAY OUT OF THE WAY
Intro: This passage records one of the great miracles of the Lord Jesus Christ. He heals a man who is afflicted with “palsy”. This means that he is paralyzed! What anyone else would have considered impossible, was handled by Jesus easily! Now, when this passage is preached, preachers usually talk about those four men who brought their friend to Jesus. I heard a message one time called “A Ten-Legged Man Meets The Master”. If you will do the math, you will find that it adds up! At other times, we preach about how Jesus put all those self-righteous, religious snobs in their place! I like that don’t you? There is even a tremendous picture of our salvation in the healing of this paralyzed man.
Well, tonight, I want to preach this passage from a vastly different angle. I want to preach on the subject, Getting The Clay Out Of The Way. These men wanted to get their paralyzed friend to Jesus, but couldn’t get him there because of the crowds that blocked the door into the house where Jesus was teaching, verse 4. So, they took the paralyzed man onto the roof of the house, broke up the roof and lowered their friend down to Jesus through the hole in the roof. Houses in that day usually had one of two types of roofs. The first consisted of beams, covered with criss-crossing sticks. This wooden foundation was then covered by clay tiles, which was in turn covered with more clay and finally grass was placed on the top. The other type of roof was covered with overlapping clay tiles. These roofs were accessible via a stairway on the side of the house. Either way, to get this man to Jesus, they had to dig through the layers of the roof to get the clay out of the way! When they did this, their friend experienced the grace of God that resulted in the forgiveness of his sins and the healing of his body! But, no new of this happened until they got the clay out of the way!
Tonight, I want you to know that your walk with Jesus will never be all it can be until you get the clay out of the way in your life! You see, clay in the Bible is a type of this old flesh! We can se this in Jer. 18:1-6. Now, our souls thrill when we think of the heavenly Potter taking that lifeless clay, making something glorious out of it and using it for His glory. That is a blessing! But, that same clay stays with you until you make the trip home to glory, and it tends to get in the way of what God wants to do in your life and mine! What I want you to see from this passage is the truth that the clay of our flesh must be “uncovered” and “broken up” before we can ever experience the Savior’s power and blessing in our lives! But, when we get the clay out of the way, we can experience Jesus and His glory in a way that is impossible otherwise. Notice what happens when you get the clay out of the way!
I. YOU CAN EXAMINE THE PERSON OF JESUS
(Ill. When they got the clay out of the way, they could see Jesus and what He was doing!)
A. He Becomes More Discernable - As they stood on that roof, the voice of Jesus was dimmed and His face was hidden from view, but when the clay was removed, they could look on Him! (Note: Nothing hides the lovely face of our Savior from view any more often that our old, stinking flesh! Our attitudes, our actions, our affections, our fears, our failures, our foolishness, our sins, our shortcomings, our silliness all hide His face and diminish His voice! Our greeds and our grudges, our hurts and our hates, our worries and our wanderings all stand between us an our seeing Him in all His glory! Ill. Nothing hinders my walk with the Lord like I do! But, when the clay of this flesh is “uncovered”, that is, seen for what it is, and when it is “broken up”, that is, humbled before Him in repentance, the wall of separation between us falls and we can see Him again! Sin clouds the eyes and sears the conscience! Getting that fixed allows us to see Him once again! Ill. The church in Ephesus - Rev. 2:1-7!) (Ill. If you are going to make it through this life, you must be able to see Him! Just as the sheep must see the shepherd; the bride must see the bridegroom; the son must see the father; the saints must be able to see the Savior! Seeing Him makes the journey bearable!)
B. He Becomes More Desirable - When the clay was removed, they could see Jesus and the object of their desire became more desirable! (Note: When we get before Him and get the clay out of the way in our lives, business will pick up! When He is seen in His right position: Savior, Lord, Master, God, the soul will long for Him and desire Him more than life itself! Nothing will thrill the saint like being with Jesus, when the clay is out of the way! Ill. David - Psa. 42:1-2. Ill. The disciples on the road to Emmaus - Luke 24:13-36, when they saw Him, everything changed!) (Ill. Seeing Him may explain why some people just “can’t help it” sometimes! It may be that they have more clay out of the way than the rest of us!)
Note: Are you living in a place and in such a way this evening where you can see Him? If not, get the clay out of the way and He will become more visible and more precious to your heart!
II. YOU CAN ENTER THE PRESENCE OF JESUS
(Ill. After the clay was taken out of the way, those men where able to lower that sick fellow right into the very presence of the Lord!)
A. You Can Discharge Your Burden - When the clay was removed, they were able to let the paralyzed man down at Jesus feet. They were able to give Him their burden! (Note: The same is true for the child of God! As long as the clay is in the way, we cannot get to Him like we need to, Psa. 66:18. But, when the clay is dealt with; when it is uncovered and broken up, we can get to Jesus and place our burdens at His feet. Ill. We have access to Him and we are invited to come to Him, Matt. 11:28; 1 Pet. 5:7; Heb. 4:15-16! Let us be sure that we are in a position spiritually to take advantage of His invitation! (Ill. Much hinges on your being able to get to Him! The clay will keep you away if it can!)
B. You Can Discover Your Blessing - Jesus looks up and sees these men and what they have done to get their friend to Him. He commends them and on the basis of THEIR faith, he heals the paralyzed man! (Note: Did you know that God cannot bless your life like He wants to until the clay is out of the way? Until your flesh and mine is dealt with, we can forget revival! We can forget the power of God! But, when we take the steps to deal with this flesh, when we uncover it for what it is and get honest about our lives, when we take the steps to ensure that this clay if broken up before God, then He can and will move in power and glory in His church, 2 Chron 7:14.) (Ill. Do you want to know who is going to cause me more trouble at this church than anyone else? It isn’t you and it isn’t the devil! My biggest problem is me and this rotten, stinking, Adamic nature that I carry with me. It gets more corrupt every day, Eph. 4:22! Hallelujah, one day it will drop off forever! But, until then, I have a duty before the Lord to labor to “get the clay out of the way” so He can bless His church, my family and my life like He wants to!)
(Is your clay out of the way? Or, are you being hindered from entering His presence and getting His power on your life because of the clay of your flesh? The best thing we could ever do for our Lord, our families, our churches, our communities and ourselves is to uncover the flesh for what it is and get it broken on the Lord’s altar!)
III. YOU CAN EXPERIENCE THE POWER OF JESUS
(Ill. After the clay was out of the way, the paralyzed man could get to Jesus. When he got to Jesus, he experienced the Lord’s power in a two-fold way.)
A. His Cleansing Power - Verse 5 tells us that Jesus cleansed this man of his sins! (Ill. Perhaps his illness was due to sin!) When the clay was taken out of the way, he was cleansed by the Lord! (Note: When we uncover the clay of our lives through confession and when we break up the clay of our lives through humble repentance, we can and will experience His cleansing power, 1 John 1:9!) (Ill. No matter what kind of stain you bear on your spirit today, the Lord can wash it away and you can experience His cleansing power! It may be some secret sin known only tot you and the Lord. He can forgive that! It may be a public sin that everyone knows about. He can forgive that! It may be an old bitter spirit. He can forgive that! It may a lack of love for your fellow Christian. He can forgive that! It may be a lack of forgiveness for something said or done to you by another. He can forgive that! Whatever it is that keeps you away from Him, His presence and His power is not worth that high cost! Why not get it uncovered and broken up this evening? When the clay is our of the way, you can experience His cleansing power!)
B. His Changing Power - Verses 10-12 tells us that Jesus didn’t just touch him on the inside, but He also touched him on the outside! Jesus changed this man’s life! He came in being carried by other, he left under his own power! He met Jesus and everything changed! Before this man met Jesus he could do nothing, but when the clay was taken out of the way, he walked differently, he glorified God and he left everyone scratching their heads at the awesome power of the Son of God! (Note: That’s what will happen when we get the clay out of the way! It will change our walk! It will change our prayer lives. It will make us bold in our witness. It will make us vocal in our praise! It will fill us with excitement and it leave a lost world scratching their heads in amazement at what the Lord has done! It’ll mess up a few Baptists as well, praise God! Ill. I’ve been there and experienced that! I’ve seen Him do it for a few others as well! Not the “fly by night” crowd, some people get the clay out of the way and they are a blessing!)
Conc: Has the clay of your life been uncovered and broken up before the Lord? Have you been open and honest with Him about every detail of your life? Are you in a position this evening to Examine His Person; Enter His Presence and Experience His Power? If the clay is in your way, I know One Who can help you get it taken care of, if you will come to Him. He still specializes in taking the clay of our lives and making us into vessels of honor for His glory! Will you get the clay out of the way so He can bless you like He wants to?