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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Saturday, April 6, 2019              

Today’s Scripture 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)

We meet Jesus at his Capernaum “pop-up” ministry where a large crowd has gathered to see him. In this crowd are five people of such faith that four of them dig a hole through the ceiling of the place where he was preaching so they can bring their one paralyzed friend to be healed by Jesus.

Because of this demonstrated faith, Jesus immediately forgave the paralyzed man his sins.

The paralyzed man and his four friends’ faith and diligence in getting to Jesus is courageous, even desperate. What did their short frantic pilgrimage look like? Imagine the four friends exuberantly rushing to their disheartened invalid friend with this chance to be healed, the faith in the impossible. But maybe there was a squabble before getting out of the door. Perhaps the paralyzed friend thought he deserved to be paralyzed for his sins; perhaps he doubted his worthiness to come before Jesus and ask to be healed.

Are we not this paralyzed man? When have we needed friends to have faith for us? Carry us and dig through the roof for us? Bringing us steadfastly to Jesus?

Having faith in being healed means that we have sinned, and we need help. Sometimes it’s easier to be paralyzed than to recognize the ways in which we need our four friends to lead us to faith. Having faith is a proverbial step into the unknown, which this man literally couldn’t do without his four friends. But your four friends are here, digging. So take up your mat and walk, knowing Jesus has faith in you.

Dear Lord, thank you for moments of paralysis, of numbness, of not knowing the right step to take. These are moments when my “four friends” can lead me to you, and I learn that because of my faith in you, you, too, have faith in me. Amen.

Written by Jessica Wang, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church

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