There are numerous lessons to be learned from our text. I will underscore just a few.
First, our text serves to contrast the faith of the stretcher-carriers with the unbelief of the Pharisees and teachers of the law.
- The stretcher-carriers believed in Jesus, the Pharisees and teachers were skeptical.
- The stretcher-carriers were persistent in their efforts to reach Jesus. The Pharisees and teachers were resistant, increasingly drawing back from Jesus.
- The stretcher-carriers overcame various obstacles to get to Jesus; the Pharisees and teachers were obstacles, keeping others from Jesus.
- The stretcher-carriers wanted others to benefit from the blessings which Jesus bestowed on men; the Pharisees and teachers rejected His blessings and cared little about others benefiting from Jesus.
If you stop to think of it, not once in any of the gospels do you find a teacher or a Pharisee bringing anyone to Jesus for mercy and grace. You often find them opposing and resisting people who wish to draw near to Him. At best, you find the Pharisees and teachers passively tolerant. The Pharisees and teachers had to reject their own logic and theology to reject Jesus as the Son of God, which their hardened hearts compelled them to do. They saw themselves as righteous and suspected Jesus to be a sinner. After all, He associated with them.
The bottom line is simply this: Are you a stretcher-carrier or a sermon critic?
- Stretcher-carriers are those who recognize Jesus’ power and authority and who seek to share Him with others, often at great personal effort and sacrifice.
- Sermon-critics are those who may listen to the teaching of the Bible, but with minds already made up, just waiting for some pretext for their unbelief and rejection.
Even born again Christian are inclined to become sermon critics, rather than stretcher-carriers. They come to hear a preacher, only to see if he conforms to their preconceived doctrines and ideas. They want only to discover if he agrees with them. They do not want their prejudices exposed and challenged. They do not want to be under the authority of God’s Word. And they spend so much time criticizing that they have no time to bring others to the blessings which God has for those who will receive them.
May God grant that you and I become stretcher-carriers, and not mere sermon critics.