Journey with John
There is a marvelous story in Mark 2:1-11 (taken from “The Message). “After a few days, Jesus returned to Capernaum, and word got around that he was back home. A crowd jammed the entrance so no one could get in or out. He was teaching the Word. They brought a paraplegic to him, carried by four men. When they weren’t able to get in because of the crowd, they removed part of the roof and lowered the paraplegic on his stretcher. Impressed by their bold belief, Jesus said, “Son, I forgive your sins.” Some religious scholars sitting there started whispering among themselves, ‘That’s blasphemy! God and only God can forgive sins.” Jesus knew right away what they were thinking and said, “Why are you so skeptical? Which is simpler: to say to the paraplegic, ‘I forgive your sins,’ or say, ‘Get up, take your stretcher and start walking?’ Well, just so it’s clear that I’m the son of man and authorized to do either or both” (he looked at the paraplegic), ‘Get up. Pick up your stretcher and go home.” And the man did it – got up, grabbed his stretcher, and walked out, with everyone there watching him….”
There were simple expectant observers – curious and intrigued, yet happy to be a part of the crowd…. There were religious leaders – intimidated by One who possessed an authority they did not. They cried out in anger, “It can’t be done that way – forgiving sins belongs to God.” In their indignation, they failed to see human life restored…. Four friends in bold belief carry their helpless companion to the One who they were confident could help. They literally “raised the roof” with their expectations…. There is the paraplegic – totally dependent on the compassion of his companions…. We see Jesus, intent on teaching the Word, but so open to the interruptions where real life happens. He recognizes the faith of the friends, the skepticism of the scholars, the curiosity of the crowd. With the confidence of One who walks intimately with God, Jesus responds to the need. “Your sins are forgiven… take up your bed and walk.” For Jesus, the method wasn’t as important as the result – a man healed and a crowd left in wonder.
It’s an important reminder to look at who is present in our own healing stories and to recognize we’re not all in the same place nor is the same miracle even observed. The text encourages us to be sensitive to all the places people find themselves in the journey to faith. Then, with Jesus, we celebrate the miracle of God’s healing, however it comes…. In the process, we find our own paralysis is healed. Thanks be to God!