A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. They gathered in such large numbers that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them. Some men came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” Mark 2, verses 1-5.
I have a friend who doesn’t believe any of this. He doesn’t believe in God, says he very much doesn’t want to believe in God, and that these stories from the Bible are just that: stories from a book written thousands of years ago and re-written many times since then. I don’t argue with him over the truthfulness or historical veracity of Scripture: that’s a losing argument with a closed mind. But before you (believers) go off saying “that heathen should X, Y or Z,” let me tell you that my friend is a brave veteran, a decent and kind man, and a good man to know.
I wonder what he thinks of today’s story. It’s rooted in history and tradition. Here we get a glimpse of Jesus’ truly audacious nature; Jesus’ audacity IS the real hope, not a gimmick. Here, for the first time in Mark’s Gospel, Jesus demonstrates it. Before now, Jesus was baptized in a miraculous showing, wandered in the desert, healed sick people, cast out demons, and gathered crowds to Himself. Yet it isn’t until now that He steps out and says “yeah I really am all THAT and a bag of Fritos, too.”
“Son, your sins are forgiven.” Noodle the enormous complexity of that thought for awhile. Here was this teacher, this miracle worker with an increasingly ginormous following, and He does a spiritual throwdown. Huh? If you don’t know much about that time in history, the Jews fervently believed that only God Himself can forgive sins; it’s a belief that we Christians today perpetuate. Yet it was radical talk for first century Judea because, for centuries before, even during exile and wars and bitter occupation, nobody would have dared to say they could forgive someone’s sins. According to the Jews, only God could forgive sins. For someone to forgive sins would be for someone to declare they were God. Jewish priests would condemn that man to death.
Like they later did to Jesus.
And here Jesus is doing a throwdown with them all by declaring to a paralytic that he doesn’t need to worry about anything because his sins were forgiven. Did the man’s sins or actions make him paralyzed? We don’t know. All we know is that he was paralyzed enough for his friends to cut a hole in the roof and lower him down to meet Jesus in the hopes that Jesus would work some kind of miracle. And did Jesus ever work a miracle. We soon learn that He healed the paralyzed man. The bigger miracle is how He boldly announced His nature to the people around Him, and then He proved it.
Just like He proves it to us every time we remember this story. Just like He proves it to my skeptical friend in the same way.
Lord, thank You for healing the paralyzed man, and for healing the paralysis in my heart.
Read Mark 2.