URC Daily Devotion: 8th January

St Mark 2: 1-12 

A few days later Jesus went back to Capernaum, and the news spread that he was at home.  So many people came together that there was no room left, not even out in front of the door. Jesus was preaching the message to them  when four men arrived, carrying a paralyzed man to Jesus.  Because of the crowd, however, they could not get the man to him. So they made a hole in the roof right above the place where Jesus was. When they had made an opening, they let the man down, lying on his mat.  Seeing how much faith they had, Jesus said to the paralyzed man, “My son, your sins are forgiven.”

Some teachers of the Law who were sitting there thought to themselves,  “How does he dare talk like this? This is blasphemy! God is the only one who can forgive sins!”

At once Jesus knew what they were thinking, so he said to them, “Why do you think such things?  Is it easier to say to this paralyzed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, pick up your mat, and walk’?  I will prove to you, then, that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the paralyzed man,  “I tell you, get up, pick up your mat, and go home!”

While they all watched, the man got up, picked up his mat, and hurried away. They were all completely amazed and praised God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!”

Reflection

A few days later Jesus went back to Capernaum and the news spread that he was at home.  So many people came together that there was no room left, not even out in front of the door.  Jesus was preaching the message to them when four men arrived, carrying a paralysed man to Jesus.  Because of the crowds, however, they could not get the man to him.  So they made a hole in the roof right above the place where Jesus was.  When they had made an opening, they let the man down, lying on his mat.  Seeing how much faith they had, Jesus said to the paralysed man, “My son, your sins are forgiven”.

Some teachers of the Law who were sitting there thought to themselves “How does he dare to talk like this?  This is blasphemy!  God is the only one who can forgive sins!”.  At once Jesus knew what they were thinking, so he said to them “Why do you think such things?  Is it easier to say to this paralysed man ‘Your sins are forgiven’ or ‘Get up, take up your mat, and walk?’  I will prove to you then that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”.  So he said to the paralysed man “I tell you, get up, take up your mat, and go home!”  While they all watched, the man got up, picked up his mat, and hurried away.  They were all completely amazed and praised God, saying “We have never seen anything like this!”

Mark’s account shows us how we may be filled with the life of God in the instant that we trust, believe and become open to receive the healing grace.  We can be freed from ‘paralysing’ conditions and remade in heart, soul, mind or body.  We need to have faith in God like that of the paralysed man and the four men who carried him on his mat to the overcrowded house for attention from Jesus face-to-face.  They came into the presence of God.  Jesus told the man that his sins were forgiven.  The miracle occurred.  Then, Jesus told the man to get up from his mat and go home.  Everyone present saw that the man was physically freed to get up and walk away.

How did others like the teachers of the Law react?  They were uneasy.  Jesus put questions to them challenging them.  He and they would agree that it was God’s prerogative to forgive sin.  However, while traditional teaching was that forgiveness of sin would occur at a future judgement time, Jesus showed that forgiveness can be an immediate reality here ‘on earth’.  As Christians, we are taught to forgive rather than judge.

This part of Mark’s account can seem confusing.  Commentators have suggested that the text is composed from sources of different dates making it disjointed.  The term ‘Son of Man’ had various meanings too.  At one point in the story, Jesus could be seen to use his miraculous powers to ‘prove’ who he is (Messiah?).  This is at odds with his emphatic rejection of such a temptation in the wilderness and his guardedness about being identified as Messiah.

The people, who had crowded into the house to hear Jesus tell them more of the ‘good news’ of the kingdom of God, reacted with praise to the miracle of healing.  They were witnesses to the astonishing transformation in the man whose paralysis was replaced by vigour sufficient to enable him to get to his feet, pick up his mat and leave the scene…..walking.   

 

Prayer

Loving God,
Bless us.
May we know Your forgiveness
and healing power as here-and-now.
May we get up and walk with you.
Amen.

Today’s Writer

Pamela Dowling is an elder at St John’s URC, Forest Hill, London

Bible Version

Good News Translation (GNT) Copyright © 1992 by American Bible Society

Copyright © 2017 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.