When roof of the house is broken through leaving a hole large enough for a man lying down to be lowered onto the floor it seemed that nobody was that concerned with the damage, the risk to people crowding in or even the house holder’s reaction. Jesus had been in the wider region of Galilee stirring up the masses with many healings and teaching. He had now returned to his Galilean base at Capernaum, a coastal town on the inland sea of Galilee. Crowds had discovered where he was and he was given no rest, they crowded into the house and surrounded it, making it impossible for new people to gain entrance. Jesus continued his first mission, to teach the crowds. We know the core early message, it was a continuation of John the Baptist’s. ‘The time is fulfilled, the kingdom of God is at hand, repent and believe the gospel.’ Mark 1.15 In other words, the Messiah or Saviour prophesied for centuries is here, it is time to face up to that, change your lives and have faith in the teaching I am giving.
It was compelling because along with his words Jesus was demonstrating the power of God, not by force but through love and mercy. His growth in popularity represented a threat to the existing establishment and they were keeping an eye on him and so formed part of the crowd. You can imagine they used their status to get to the front so they could see and hear clearly. Their default position was skepticism, even hostility and in this case being scribes probably recording what they saw and heard to use later. For Jesus then this was potentially an awkward situation. How was Jesus going to handle the dramatic intervention of a paralyzed man being lowered from the roof to his feet?
Jesus firstly responded to their evident faith. In this case faith was not just that of the paralyzed man but also those who brought him to Jesus. It is easy to overlook the faith filled friends. These unnamed friends did what all believers should endeavour to do, bring their friends, family, workmates, neighbours to encounter Jesus. They were determined to bring him, they carried him the whole way, they lifted him onto the roof of a house and broke through the roof. They may have been motivated in part by self interest in that he may have been a daily burden to them but Mark is clear, they had faith in Jesus.
Jesus found himself faced with a tricky situation, he had a man in front of him with complex needs. His physical disability made him a highly vulnerable person, he was dependent on others for nearly everything including being taken to a place to beg. His self-image, safety, financial independence and life prospects would all have been low. What was Jesus to do? Jesus chose to deal with the thing of greatest importance first rather than what was immediately obvious to the man, his friends and the observing crowd. He forgave his sin. Jesus will always forgive sin in response to faith in him. The forgiveness of sin and the capacity to live out the freedom from sin that follows is the most life changing event. This is in no way minimized the very great need for healing to relieve suffering and restore his dignity in the sight of society.
The forgiveness of sin and restoration of relationship with God is the reason why Jesus was there. It is why he was prepared to die in the way he did. It is why he was resurrected. It was the fulfilment of God’s plan for human kind. When spending time with people who have fallen on hard times and may be homeless or refuges it has been vital to do what one can to meet their physical and welfare needs. However, from a Christian perspective that is only half of a responsibility fulfilled. The other, if one can non-mathematically say, greater half, is to introduce them to Jesus and the forgiveness of sin.
Jesus demonstrated that he was able to do what only God can do, forgive sin, he did what also only God can do, miraculously heal the paralyzed man. Those who came and witnessed the events recognized that God, through Jesus, was present and at work. ‘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!”’ Mark 2.12
If Jesus takes sin so seriously, how seriously do we take our own sin?
Have we asked Jesus for forgiveness or are we still self-justifying ourselves to him.
His Mercy is More – Matt Papa and Matt Boswell