Narrative Lectionary Reflection
January 12, 2020
Read: Mark 2:1-22
I’ve been preparing for the sermon for this coming Sunday and I’ve been reading and thinking about the text: Mark 2:1-22. The very first story is the story of the four men who went up to the roof and lowered their friend down to where Jesus was healing. Everyone always focuses on the extreme faith and love on the part of those four friends. What makes no sense, is when Jesus sees the man being lowered and not immediately make this man walk. I mean it was as plain as the nose on one’s faith. Why did Jesus feel the need to say this man’s sins are forgiven?
Maybe it was because the man himself wondered if his predicament was because of the result of sin. Does it mean that he sinned and became a paralytic as a result? Probably not. But think about this man’s situation for a moment. We don’t know if this has been his condition since birth or it happened later, but you can wonder why you are in this predicament. In John 9, Jesus meets a blind man and his disciples wonder if he sinned or did the man’s parents sin to make this man blind. Jesus says neither. But when you are in this condition, you might be more aware of your sin than other times in one’s life.
What matters is that Jesus saw this man, saw the awesome faith of his friends and told the man what he needed to hear: that he was forgiven, that the burden that he carried was no longer his.
There are lots of people in our midst who are weighed down with guilt, sin, and sadness. The question for us today is not that we can forgive their sins, but can we bring them to Jesus in the same way that this man’s friend did? They were willing to help their friend even if it meant tearing up a roof to get their friend to be healed by Jesus.
As Christians, we are called to share the love of God with our friends and neighbors. A friend recently said that in many cases, the people that we meet are longing for forgiveness. Bring them to Jesus can help them realize a sense of grace in a world that is graceless.
Now, that might sound odd to some because especially in mainline Protestantism, there has been a move away from forgiveness towards justice. There is a need to focus on justice issues, but there is also a spiritual side of life where people just want to feel a sense of grace, to know they are forgiven. Sometimes that is even more important to people than physical healing.
So as we prepare for Sunday and we meet our friends, know they are carrying burdens. How can we bring them to have an encounter with Christ? How can they experience forgiveness from Jesus?
Sometimes forgiveness feels more important than healing.
Dennis Sanders is the Pastor at First Christian Church of St. Paul in Mahtomedi, Minnesota. He’s written for various outlets including Christian Century.