Mark 2:1-12: Roof-moving faith.

” A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. They gathered in such large numbers that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them. Some men came, bringing to him a paralysed man, carried by four of them. Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralysed man, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven.’  Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, ‘Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?’  Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, ‘Why are you thinking these things? Which is easier: to say to this paralysed 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 he said to the man, 11 ‘I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.’ 12 He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, ‘We have never seen anything like this!’” NIV UK

In the revival in Ulster in the mid 1800’s, church buildings were regularly so full that services had to be taken outside. That has been a common feature of Holy Spirit inspired movements in church history. On this occasion in the gospel ‘’…the people heard that he had come home’’ (1), and the venue was overflowing (2).Tom Wright suggests that this may have been Jesus’ own home in Capernaum. I make the observation that there is something magnetic about the presence of Jesus. At the heart of every revival you will find this essential reality, that people know that Jesus is present in His church. They know that they will meet Him if they go to church, and they will hear Him speak (2). He is the draw; He’s the reason why people come along in droves. It’s not because someone put some glossy publicity material in their hands, showing the face of a good looking preacher.  The central message Jesus brings is about forgiveness of sins and a right relationship with God (5, 6, 9 and 10). In a sense, we are all paralysed by guilt. We are lame. We have done wrong and we are not what God made us to be. We all need to hear the word of absolution pronounced over our lives by the Lord Himself. Then other people will look on in amazement as they see the changes He makes in us (12), and God will get the glory He alone deserves.  We sometimes talk about the need for mountain-moving faith. Yet at times, it may be a roof that needs moving. For ourselves, we can seek to emulate the men who carried the paralysed man to Jesus. We bring people to Jesus on the stretcher of prayer. Some of those we carry may be unable, or unwilling, to come by themselves. Let’s be determined anyway, to press through every obstacle and barrier, and get those people, those needs to the feet of Jesus. Does anybody else feel there’s something here about prayer as you read these words? Does it in any way resonate with your own experience? Don’t you often feel like you have to press through some things before there can be breakthrough?

The big issue in this story is about the identity of Jesus. Who is He? If only God can forgive sins, what inference are we meant to draw about Christ? When the paralytic got up from ‘’his mat’’ and ‘’walked out in full view of them all’’ (12), that sealed it. It showed that Jesus really had forgiven his sins. The religious leaders did not like the implications. From this point on, they were on a collision course with the Lord which would eventually lead to Calvary.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, you taught that perseverance in prayer is necessary. This story reminds me of that. Please help me to keep going