A few days later, Jesus entered Capernaum again. The people heard that he had come home. 2 So many people gathered that there was no room left. There was not even room outside the door. And Jesus preached the word to them. 3 Four of those who came were carrying a man who could not walk. 4 But they could not get him close to Jesus because of the crowd. So they made a hole by digging through the roof above Jesus. Then they lowered the man through it on a mat. 5 Jesus saw their faith. So he said to the man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”
6 Some teachers of the law were sitting there. They were thinking, 7 “Why is this fellow talking like that? He’s saying a very evil thing! Only God can forgive sins!”
8 Right away Jesus knew what they were thinking. So he said to them, “Why are you thinking these things? 9 Is it easier to say to this man, ‘Your sins are forgiven’? Or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’? 10 But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So Jesus spoke to the man who could not walk. 11 “I tell you,” he said, “get up. Take your mat and go home.” 12 The man got up and took his mat. Then he walked away while everyone watched. All the people were amazed. They praised God and said, “We have never seen anything like this!”
Mark 2:1-12 (New International Reader’s Version)
As we move along in Lent, we see Jesus’s ministry on Earth gathering steam. Jesus is gathering his disciples and is beginning to minister to the masses. In tonight’s Scripture text, we have Jesus back home in Capernaum preaching at a packed (to overflowing) house.
It was during this house meeting that Jesus receives an interesting visitor: a disabled man being lowered on his stretcher down in front of Jesus by his four friends. You see, these guys probably heard about Jesus’s miracles and knew that he could empower their buddy to walk. So they approached the house and saw the crowd, they didn’t get discouraged. No, they carried their buddy up to the roof and began to break through it. Once they made a wide enough hole, the quartet lowered their pal to Jesus.
The whole scene blew Jesus’s mind as he saw the faith these five had. However, what Jesus said next blew everyone’s mind: he told the disabled man that his sins were forgiven. What? You mean to tell me after all that was done to get the disabled man to him, the first words out of Jesus’s mouth were, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”? I bet you could hear a pin drop in that house. The local Scribes in attendance were ticked and thought Jesus was speaking evil since only God can forgive sins.
Then Jesus pushed the meeting up a notch. He could read the minds of the Scribes and gave them a reply for the ages. He asked them what would be easier to tell the man: that his sins were forgiven, or to get up and walk? Jesus wanted the Scribes (and everyone else) to see that he had the authority to both forgive sins and to heal (thanks to the Divine power in him); which in the end he made the man to rise up and walk out of the house to the amazement of those present.
I pondered on why did Jesus first tell the man that his sins were forgiven him? I mean the man wanted to be able to walk and carry on a normal life; what did his sins have to do with it? Well, it appears as if Jesus was looking into the man’s heart and saw the burdens that plagued it. I believed the man was internally disabled from guilt and shame. The man felt shame that he couldn’t provide for himself like most men and probably never married because of this. The man felt as if he were a burden to his friends. Also the man felt as if he was being punished for some sins by his being unable to walk. He also could have been afraid about his future welfare. So before Jesus could heal the man physically, he had to do spiritual healing and give the man’s heart a new beginning. A forgiving word from Jesus, shattered all those burdens and freed the man’s heart so he could truly live from the inside-out. Once that was done, Jesus could fully heal the man and give him the power to walk.
During our Lenten journey, we will encounter issues that will disable our hearts: old sins and guilt; past hurts; losses we never got over; the list could be endless. Like the man in tonight’s text, we come with outer issues we need help with: activities and habits we need to stop; our relationships with others; things we want to take on; etc. However, when we are receptive to the same Divine power Jesus was, we’ll start to see the inner things behind our desire for healing. We’ll see things that we may otherwise miss; and prevent our healing. And like the man, we too will encounter God who will forgive and heal us so we can live fully.
Forgiveness and healing: all for the taking. All we have to do is be willing to receive it.
Prayer: God of forgiveness and healing, heal us of our internal and external disabilities. Remind us of your free forgiveness to cleanse and liberate the outside; and your free healing to make us whole to live fully. Help us to be like the man in the Scripture who was willing to receive despite the odds. In Your Name, Amen.
(Image: Watchung Reservation in New Jersey. Image by Me)