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Thursday, January 17, 2013
Today’s Reading | Mark 2:1–12
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!” (NRSV)
This is one of the most well-known miracles of Jesus. It is also told in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. But our passage for today is Mark’s version of the story. Mark tells this as the last of five healing narratives and the first of five stories that have direct conflict between Jesus and the other religious authorities. This is a point of major transition, and the message is an important one.
Faith is needed for this miracle to happen. The paralyzed man had to have faith in what his friends were doing (and that they wouldn’t drop him through the roof). The friends of the paralyzed man had faith that Jesus would be able to help their friend. The scribes that were listening and watching Jesus had a lack of faith that prompted Jesus to take action in order to show his authority comes from God alone. The crowds, who probably already had inklings of faith, went away “amazed and [glorifying] God.”
The relationship between faith, healing, and forgiveness is interesting in this passage. Although no specific sins of the paralyzed man are mentioned, Jesus saw the faith of the friends and forgave the sins of the paralyzed man. This story shows that faith in Jesus’ authority is important, but what is more important is forgiveness of sins. Because Jesus first forgives the sins of the paralyzed man, his true concern about humanity is clear: sins, not physical ailments.
Holy and wonderful God, this truly is the good news! The sins of humankind are many, but because of the sacrifice of Jesus, they are forgiven. Help me to show my faith by forgiving others, just as Christ has forgiven me. In your Son’s holy name I pray. Amen.
Written by Sarah Bennett, Director of Junior High Ministry
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