February 20, 2000

Mark 2:1-12 (CEV)

Jesus went back to Capernaum, and a few days later people heard that he was a t home. Then so many of them came to the house that there wasn't even standing room left in front of the door.

Jesus was still teaching when four people came up, carrying a crippled man on a mat. But because of the crowd, they could not get him to Jesus. So they made a hole in the roof above him and let the man down in front of everyone.

When Jesus saw how much faith they had, he said to the crippled man, "My friend, your sins are forgiven."

Some of the teachers of the Law of Moses were sitting there. They started wondering, "Why would he say such a thing? He must think he is God! Only God can forgive sins."

Right away, Jesus knew what they were thinking, and he said, "Why are you thinking such things? Is it easier for me to tell this crippled man that his sins are forgiven or to tell him to get up and pick up his mat and go on home? I will show you that the Son of Man has the right to forgive sins here on earth." So Jesus said to the man, "Get up! Pick up your mat and go on home."

The man got right up. He picked up his mat and went out while everyone watched in amazement. They praised God and said, "We have never seen anything like this!"


1. First to the friends. Note that this story indicates that the healing faith was held by the friends of the paralytic. Jesus doesn't speak directly to them. Yet, Jesus notes their faith and goes on to speak to the paralytic. The question for us is the simple one - who has held the faith for you? and for whom do you hold the faith? To know this is enough. It gives us strength and purpose. It is good to be held and to hold in the faith. Long may you be found in this sort of community of mutual support.

2. Next to the paralytic. We might speculate that through his long infirmity the man had asked why God was punishing him. He probably doubted that for him there would be a miracle. Did he at least consent to being brought and dropped through the roof? Would it make a difference if he did or did not consent? It is good to know that we don't always have to whomp up some certain amount of faith. Sins can be forgiven whether we are ready for that or not.

3. Finally to the Pharisees. One commentary indicates, "...the simple people did not know how scandalous [Jesus'] words were. They did not have enough religious formation to realize immediately that only God could give absolution. It was the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law who were scandalized. Their indignation is justified because neither they, nor the others, nor the disciples yet understand that Jesus is the true Son of God. Jesus silences them: If I restore health in the same way God does why would I not forgive also in the way God does?"
      Doctrines or a spelling out of the parameters of faith are always tentative. They can speak about where the Spirit has blown but are not all that helpful in discerning where the Spirit will next blow. What are the current doctrines of the church which are holding back forgiveness?

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