Lesson: Mark 2:1-12
Today’s lesson is one of the most well known and beloved in our Bible. The healing of the paralytic. The word means to be disabled on the side. All we really know is that this man could not walk.
Mark writes of course in Greek and we initially miss something without the Greek. In verse 3 the man is taken up, (to the roof) In verses 9 and 11 Jesus repeats this take up your matt. The in verse 12 the man takes up the mat. It took 4 to bring in the mat. But in the end one man carries the mat home himself.
This mat was sometimes the sold possession of a poor man. It was rolled up in the day to make room in the typical small house. It could be rolled up and things put in it like a suitcase.
These four guys can’t get at the building where Jesus is so they cut a hole in the roof. Jesus looks up at them and Jesus sees their faith. I guess what he sees is their persistence at overcoming obstacles in order to get to Jesus.
The man can't walk, the crowd is blocking the normal way to Jesus. The roof blocks the abnormal way to get to Jesus, but despite those obstacles the four guys get their man to Jesus.
I think that the faith that Jesus saw was the perseverance of the four men. It is interesting that we are not told that the paralytic wants to be there. I wonder what the four said to him. I wonder if that conversation might have been anything like when we invite someone to share church with us?
These four dared to do the difficult, the dangerous, the controversial in order to bring their friend to Jesus. I don’t think we have learned from this so that we are equally determined to bring troubled people into the presence of Jesus. Do we bring them here? Do we experience the presence of Jesus here?
Jesus looks at the man and says “child your sins are forgiven”, Jesus calls this man his child. A member of his family. Sin in its most basic definition is missing the mark. This guy was missing the mark of being a whole person.
At a more complex level sin is the gulf between God and people. Jesus by drawing sinners into fellowship with himself, overcomes that gulf. By declaring this man forgiven Jesus announces that the gulf between him and God has been bridged. The fact that his is forgiven before he was healed shows that relationship with God is not dependent on health or illness.
I think it is important to note that Jesus’ words are in the passive. “Your sins are forgiven.” God forgives, Jesus announces it.
On the one hand Jesus is not forgiving his sins but he is announcing it. This was almost just as bad to his Jewish audience. That was the job of a priest and for sure Jesus is now saying, anyone and everyone should be proclaiming God’s forgiveness. That is good news or gospel.
Then Jesus commands the paralytic to rise up, take his mat and go home. This man can now go home, to a place of wholeness. This last part is the final step that many never take. We do not go out before them all, and become a witness to the power and authority of Jesus to bridge the gap of sin and to restore us to the wholeness in body and relationships.
We hide the light under the basket. We make it a private matter which we are embarrassed about, rather than taking up our mat and going out before all.
Here is what could have happened. He could have stayed on the mat. He could have returned to what he once was. It was important that he got up and changed the way he live, based on his new experience with Jesus. He became a witness to his community of the power of Jesus.
Some of us claim to know Jesus. But I fear that all we mean is that we know about him. In my time I have learned a lot of doctrines and information about Jesus. None of them has surprised me very much. By contrast in my relationship with the living Jesus I am frequently surprised by his presence. By what he does for me and what he makes it possible for me to do.
Recognizing the presence of Jesus means experiencing him in a relationship with a spiritual power to surprise us and change us. Jesus risen from the dead, living can move us to a new place.
So instead of being paralyzed we can get up and go out. I have been unable to move, stagnant and stuck because I did not know and believe in the power and unlimited willingness of God to forgive me.
Each of us can get up off the mat we live on. Get up off our comfortable place, to witness to Jesus’ power. Otherwise we despise Jesus forgiveness and cling to the past. Letting what happed in the past control our future instead of living in Jesus’ present. Leaving the comfort and familiarly of our mats is sometimes hard and scary.
You are free, your sins have been forgiven, take up your mats and walk, go out before them and tell about who made you whole.