Saturday, March 29, 2014

Jesus, Four Friends and a Paralyzed Man (A Reflection on Mark 2:1-12)

Jesus was preaching the message to them when four men arrived, carrying a paralyzed man to Jesus. Because 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” (Mark 2:2-4, GNB).

This is a famous story about four men brought a friend to Jesus. What is so touching about this scene is that they were so keen that they climbed onto the roof of the house, made an opening, and tried very hard lowered a mat bearing a friend who lay motionless to Jesus. The man was hurting from emotional and physical suffering, incapable of movement (“paralyzed”), making him utterly dependent upon the help of family and friends. Imagine how the man felt at that moment. Obviously, the man needs healing from Jesus.

The four friends, we read, really believed that Jesus would do something for their friend. This is telling when Jesus “seeing how much faith they had” (Mark 2:5). They have invisible faith. Faith that make a hole in the roof. Faith that cause dust covering the floor where Jesus taught. Faith that shown in their sweat-stained faces when they lowered their friend at the feet of Jesus. Jesus, I observed, always associated faith with doing something, not just sitting still and claiming promises. James put it in the nutshell: “Faith without actions is dead” (James 2:26). To have faith is invincible, to live in the faith is visible. Do you have such a faith?

Jesus is unpredictable. He goes beyond the man physical problem. Jesus sees a sinner in need of forgiveness. “Jesus said to the paralyzed man, ‘My son, your sins are forgiven.’” (Mark 2:5). The people listening were shocked. Could it be that the man suffering was due to his past and presence sins? I highly suspect. Now, we must be careful not to label every sickness, disease and death happened due to some particular sins. But all of these are consequences of our sinful condition that Jesus came to deal with on the cross. Are there any sins that you need to confess that may cause you to suffer today? Jesus knows all about it, so you don’t need to hide it. He is ready to say “Your sins are forgiven” if only you would “repent and turn to God” (Acts 3:19).

The root cause of the man paralyzed was his sin against God.  It is not so much with the symptoms but the core problem – sins. We must confront every sinner with this universal issue. We must preach that God offers the forgiveness of sin by grace through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ alone (not health, wealth and prosperity gospel!). And so, as God incarnate, Jesus speaks with authority: “’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!’” (Mark 2:11-12). Yes, most of us never seen anything like that but we have seen (or will see) God done a greater miracle in us when we are forgiven from our sins and have eternal life when we believe in His Son (John 3:16). Amen.

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