Monday, January 16th. Mark 1:12-20

When he returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. So many gathered around that there was no longer room for them, not even in front of the door; and he was speaking the word to them. Then some people came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. And when they could not bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him; and after having dug through it, they let down the mat on which the paralytic lay.

 

When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, “Why does this fellow speak in this way? It is blasphemy! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” At once Jesus perceived in his spirit that they were discussing these questions among themselves; and he said to them, “Why do you raise such questions in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Stand up and take your mat and walk’? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the paralytic—  “I say to you, stand up, take your mat and go to your home.”  And he stood up, and immediately took the mat and went out before all of them; so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!”  Mark 2:1-12

 

Let’s notice several intriguing points in this text.

 

The crowds gather outside of the home where Jesus is staying.  I believe this says as much about the lengths to which desperate people are willing to go for help as it does the charisma or even the message of Jesus.  This isn’t about a crowd hoping to catch a glimpse of a celebrity but about hurting people who have nowhere else to turn.

 

A paralyzed man, with no hope of making his own way through the crowds to see Jesus, has four great friends who are willing to do anything to help him.  They literally drop him down through a hole they dig in the roof!  For most guys, having even one friend who would do that for them would be great.  Four is amazing.

 

Mark tells us that Jesus is impressed, not with their persistence or their love or their ingenuity or their guts, but with their faith.  My sense here is that is “faith” includes all of that but based firmly on the simple idea that Jesus can be helpful to their friend.

 

Then Jesus surprises us by forgiving the sins of the paralytic.  That catches us short.  The friends didn’t bring him there to get his sins forgiven, they brought him there to get his legs back under him.  They came for healing, not forgiveness.  Yet again we are seeing the link between healing and forgiveness, between brokenness and wholeness.

 

The scribes, the religious leaders, also notice that Jesus forgives the man’s sins.  Suddenly, for them at least, this is no longer about a crowd of hurting people seeking healing, this has become an opportunity for a theological discussion.  (Note to self:  Hurting people aren’t terribly interested in theological discussions.)  Jesus knows what they are thinking so he poses a trick question.

 

The answer to Jesus’ question is easy.  It is equally easy to say “your sins are forgiven” as it is to say “take up your mat and walk.”  Any child could say those words.  But only Jesus can do them.  Words without action are just sound waves to nowhere.  Only Jesus can forgive.  Only Jesus can heal.  And that day he did both.

 

Let us pray:  Gracious Lord, on this day in which we remember the life and work of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., we celebrate those whose words and deeds align with the godly purpose of bringing healing to a broken world.  As we remember four friends banding together to bring another friend to help, we pray that you be with all those who come together for the sake of others, that all might live lives of freedom, purpose and wholeness.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.  

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3 Responses to “Monday, January 16th. Mark 1:12-20”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    I must be in need of this message. I heard a similar one in church yesterday when it was pointed out that when we are in need of prayer and can no longer pray, whether through lack of faith, anger at God, or through severe illness, it is our friend’s prayers and actions that help us.

  2. Anonymous Says:

    I was moved by the article, “Hurting people aren’t terribly interested in theological discussions.”
    I have been been blessed with victory over addictions, I wanted to die prior to wanting to stop drinking.
    I did not come to God to save my soul,I came to God to save my rear end….I later found that they are attached.
    So now over 12 years later I have been granted the privilege of helping other man recover/victory from their addictions. through the healing power of Jesus.
    When I first meet them , they are not interested in eternal salvation, the desperate ( desperation is a gift), the truly desperate
    they just don’t want to want to die.

    peace be with you all
    Bob

    • revkerry Says:

      Thank you so much for your comments. I very seldom actually read the comments – I’m so self critical that I’m scared to read them. But I have to tell you that “I did not come to God to save my soul,I came to God to save my rear end….I later found that they are attached.” absolutely made my day. It is THAT kind of God power that makes my life meaningful. What a great line. Consider it stolen (borrowed) and I’ll use it soon.

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