Read Mark 2:1-12
Jesus returns to Capernaum, yet his reputation as a man of healing has spread like wildfire and crowds rushed to see him. Faced with a great crowd, Jesus began to speak to them, to share with them, to speak to their broken hearts. In this place there was no doubt many suffered from diseases of different kinds, but one man’s story in particular becomes intertwined with the story of Jesus. This man, a paralytic, had no way on his own of getting to see Jesus, yet because of the determination of four others he was carried to Jesus’ door.
So close and yet so far could only describe the thoughts on the men’s minds as they get to where Jesus was staying. They had heard of Jesus’ miracles, they knew what he was capable of, if only they could get their paralysed friend to Jesus they knew he would walk again. But as they get to the door, so close to the man that could offer their friend healing, despair hits them. The crowd is too great; the house is full to overflowing. There is no way they can possibly get inside. They begin by asking politely, but no one moves, they move onto yelling and shoving trying to make a way through, but it is just impossible. As they step back from the door in despair they come up with a plan. The four men carry their friend to the roof of the house and lying him down they begin to remove a small section of the roof.
Imagine being inside the house, you are crammed in hearing teaching from this unique man. You are crowded on all sides by a people there for very different reasons. There are those just hoping to see a show, something to tell their friends about, there are the religious teachers doubting Jesus’ claims and looking to condemn Jesus, and then there are Jesus’ followers. But as you are taking in this scene, trying to decide for yourself which group you fall into, you suddenly notice new light begin to fall in the house. With so many people crammed into such a small space, natural light had all but vanished, but now there is a new source of light coming from above. As you glance up, your eyes trying to quickly adjust to the change in light you notice that a hole is forming in the once intact ceiling above where Jesus is speaking. Then a head pops through the hole, peering down, then a couple more and then just as quickly they all vanish. Instead now you see a heavy mat begin to be lowered down. On that mat is a cripple, you know him, you have seen him around Capernaum, he is a paralytic, a man of little worth, but yet here he is being lowered directly in front of Jesus.
Jesus stops speaking and looks at the man, and speaking directly to him, as if he is ignoring everyone else in the room he says, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven’. You can feel the immediate change flow through the room. There are audible gasps as everyone processes what Jesus has just claimed. This is no innocent statement; Jesus has just claimed to be able to forgive what only God can forgive. ‘How dare Jesus pretend to speak the mind of God’, everyone’s thinking, but no one is saying anything. Yet Jesus responds as if the claim on so many minds had been yelled audible at him. ‘What is easier?’ Jesus responds, ‘Is it easier to tell this man that his sins are forgiven, or to tell this man to get up, pick up his mat and walk?’ And without waiting for a response Jesus continues, ‘I will show you that the son of man has the right to forgive sins’ and then again turning to look at the man he finishes by saying, ‘Stand up, pick up your mat and go home’.
In front of everyone, those there hoping to see a miracle, the doubters, the teachers and the followers, the man did what all thought was impossible, he stood up, and the crowd parted in wonder as he picked up the mat he had been carried there on and went home.
- What stood out for you in today’s story? Do you have any questions?
- In the story, the man who needed Jesus couldn’t get to him because other people were in the way. How can you help others hear about the friendship relationship that Jesus offers?
- Jesus made a way for the man to have full friendship with God through forgiving all those things that separated the man from God. What do you think having a friendship with God looks like?
- How has your life looked more like what everyone else does and less like what King Jesus says it should look like. Is there anything you can do to change this?