Mark – God is on our side!
When we do life with Jesus, focusing on how He works, living expectantly, watching for what He will do next, we will find there is NO ONE like Him! We learn to not sit back but to step up our serve when the Lord tells us to act. We do it without thinking of ourselves or the implications and outcomes, we just do it. Paul knew this way of life well.
That is probably the reason Paul encouraged God’s church with this prayer,
“My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth. I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength—that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in.
And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.
20-21 God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.
Glory to God in the church!
Glory to God in the Messiah, in Jesus!
Glory down all the generations!
Glory through all millennia! Oh, yes!”
(Ephesians 3, Msg)
When we take Jesus to heart, we discover He does amazing thing all around us, in us and through us in ways we would never have imagined. This leads to a building excitement within us put there by His Holy Spirit that causes us to tell others about Him. We point them in His direction. If necessary, we pick them up and bring them to Jesus!
Mark 2, NLT
Jesus Heals a Paralyzed Man
When Jesus returned to Capernaum several days later, the news spread quickly that he was back home. 2 Soon the house where he was staying was so packed with visitors that there was no more room, even outside the door. While he was preaching God’s word to them, 3 four men arrived carrying a paralyzed man on a mat. 4 They couldn’t bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, so they dug a hole through the roof above his head. Then they lowered the man on his mat, right down in front of Jesus. 5 Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man, “My child, your sins are forgiven.”
6 But some of the teachers of religious law who were sitting there thought to themselves, 7 “What is he saying? This is blasphemy! Only God can forgive sins!”
8 Jesus knew immediately what they were thinking, so he asked them, “Why do you question this in your hearts? 9 Is it easier to say to the paralyzed man ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or ‘Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk’? 10 So I will prove to you that the Son of Man has the authority on earth to forgive sins.” Then Jesus turned to the paralyzed man and said, 11 “Stand up, pick up your mat, and go home!”
12 And the man jumped up, grabbed his mat, and walked out through the stunned onlookers. They were all amazed and praised God, exclaiming, “We’ve never seen anything like this before!”
Again Mark is showing Jesus in action. Jesus shows all that God has come down and is on their side! This amusing story of the four men who lowered their friend down in front of Jesus, hoping he would be healed, is short and to the point. Can’t you see Jesus chuckling, as debris is falling on his head, while seeing a man slowly coming down from the roof! On the flip side, we can also feel the frustration of our Lord who knew the hearts of the critics who would not join in the excitement of seeing a man healed. The critics were troubled by the audacity of this action and then openly callied our Lord, Son of God, a blasphemer. We want to shout, “But, a man was healed!” How can you not see that? Because Jesus knew his heart, He also forgave the healed man!
LET’S TALK ABOUT THE MIRACLE OF FORGIVENESS!
This miracle of healing gave our Lord the opportunity to teach an important lesson about forgiveness. Consider this scene through the eyes of the Lord Jesus. When He LOOKED UP, He saw the four men on the roof with their sick friend. Houses had flat roofs that were usually accessible by means of an outside stairway. It would not be difficult to remove the tiles, laths, and grass that comprised the roof and make an opening large enough to fit their friend through on his mat.
We must admire several characteristics of these men, qualities that ought to mark us as “fishers of men.” For one thing, they were deeply concerned about their friend and wanted to see him helped. They had the faith to believe that Jesus could and would meet his need. They did not simply “pray about it,” but they put some feet to their prayers, and they did not permit the difficult circumstances to discourage them. They worked together and dared to do something different, and Jesus rewarded their efforts. How easy it would have been for them to say, “Well, there is no sense trying to get to Jesus today! Maybe we can come back tomorrow.”
When our Lord LOOKED DOWN, He saw the palsied man lying on his mat, and immediately Jesus went to the heart of the man’s problem—sin. Not all sickness is caused by sin (see John 9:1–3), but evidently this man’s condition was the result of his disobedience to God. Even before He healed the man’s body, Jesus spoke peace to the man’s heart and announced that his sins were forgiven! Forgiveness is the greatest miracle that Jesus ever performs. It meets the greatest need; it costs the greatest price; and it brings the greatest blessing and the most lasting results.
Then Jesus LOOKED AROUND and saw the critics who had come to spy on Him (see Luke 5:17). These religious leaders certainly had every right to investigate the ministry of this new teacher, since the religious life of the nation was under their supervision (Deut. 13). But they should have come with open minds and hearts, seeking truth, instead of with critical minds, seeking heresy. Some of the negative attitude that had been present in Judea (John 4:1–4) had now invaded Galilee, and this was the beginning of the official opposition that ultimately led to our Lord’s arrest and death. He was now so popular that the Jewish leaders dared not ignore Him. In fact, they must have arrived early for the meeting, because they were right at the scene of action! Or perhaps Jesus graciously gave them front row seats.
When the Lord LOOKED WITHIN, He saw the critical spirit in their hearts and knew that they were accusing Him of blasphemy. After all, only God can forgive sins, and Jesus had just told the paralytic that his sins were forgiven. Jesus was claiming to be God!
But the next instant, He proved Himself to be God by reading their hearts and telling them what they were thinking (see John 2:25; Heb.3:13). Since they wanted to “reason” about things, He gave them something to ponder: Which is easier, to heal the man or to tell him he is forgiven? Obviously, it is easier to say, “Your sins are forgiven!” because nobody can prove whether or not the forgiveness really took place. So, to back up His words, Jesus immediately healed the man and sent him home. The healing of the man’s body was but an illustration and demonstration of the healing of his soul (Ps. 103:3). The scribes and Pharisees, of course, could neither heal the man nor forgive his sins, so they were caught in their own trap and condemned by their own thoughts.
Suppose the religious leaders had opened their hearts to the truth that day, what could they have learned? For one thing, they could have learned that sin is like sickness and that forgiveness is like having your health restored. This was not a new truth, for the Old Testament Scriptures had said the same thing (Ps. 103:3; Isa. 1:5–6, 16–20); but now it had been demonstrated before their very eyes. They also could have learned that Jesus Christ of Nazareth is indeed the Savior with authority to forgive sins—and their own sins could have been forgiven! What an opportunity they missed when they came to the meeting with a critical spirit instead of with a repentant heart!
This was indeed a lesson in the power of forgiveness. Restoration of the body is second only to a restored relationship with God, through Jesus Christ, His Son.
Dear Heavenly Father, Lord and Savior,
Thank you for forgiving me, restoring our relationship and making me whole in all ways. Thank you for life abundant. Thank you for caring enough to confront the real issues in my life that cause me to sin. Thank you for looking up, down and all around while looking deeply within every one of us. Continue to transform me to be and do all that you created me to be and do. I know you are not finished with me, yet.
In Jesus Name, Amen