Summary: In an age when so many things and forces threaten to control our lives, we need the reassurance that Jesus' power is available to us.
“He’s Amazing! The Greatest Ministry Ever!”
Mark wrote his Gospel to Christians, mostly Gentiles, living in Rome. Since being Christian in Rome was very difficult due to opposition and persecution, his main concern was to share with them the power available through Jesus Christ. I believe that we, too, need a sense of that power. In an age when so many things and forces threaten to control our lives, we need the reassurance that Jesus’ power is available to us.
In Mark 2:1-12 we see Jesus encounter opposition to His ministry for the first time. His power over the lives of others was beginning to draw not only attention, but also the ire of the religious leaders. To fully appreciate this scene we need to look, first, at THE MOMENT OF NEED. Imagine the scene. It is A PICTURE OF NEED. It centers on this young, itinerant preacher who has taken the people by storm. His fame had spread like wildfire. He was so new and exciting that people would travel most anywhere and do most anything to hear and see Him. It was not only what He had been saying, but also what He had been doing. He was transforming lives – not just psychologically and spiritually but also emotionally and physically. The blind were seeing, the deaf hearing, the dumb speaking, and the crippled were being healed.
But consider JESUS’ NEED. He had more to do than just do miracles and heal. He came to preach and teach, to save the lost. So in this scene He has retreated from the crowds and demands of the people by taking his first four disciples to the home of Simon and Andrew to teach them. But word spread all too quickly that He was there. Soon his ‘private time’ became ‘public time.’
So the focus is also on THE CROWD’S NEED. It’s a large crowd and they are pressing all around Jesus. In this crowd are the religions leaders, the four disciples, local townspeople, and curious onlookers. These people line the walls, drape the furniture, and squat on the floor; others stand outside straining to hear and see. Still others, passing by, linger at the fringes.
Then out beyond the fringes we see four men carrying A MAN IN NEED. These four men see the large crowd and wonder how they can ever get their friend to Jesus. They loved their friend and wanted the best for him; they had come this far by faith and they weren’t about to turn back. So they devise a way. Quietly, yet resolutely, they head for the stairs which lead to the rooftop. After cautiously carrying their friend up those steps, they lay him down on the roof and begin to tear away the dried mud and heavy straw that compose the roof. Dust begins falling on the people inside the house below. Simon and Andrew look up with great dismay – it’s their house! Jesus, too, casts an upward glance. Suddenly a shaft of golden sunlight bursts through the roof and upon the crowd. But before the people can recover from the initial blinding brightness, the mat is lowered through the new opening in the roof. Then they see the paralyzed man. The people are excited, for this is more than what they hoped for – a chance to see Jesus heal someone. The disciples, though, are disturbed – they wanted to hear Jesus teach. And the religious leaders are stunned and curious – they are, after all, checking out this man who is a threat to their religious system. Yet quickly all are quiet. All eyes are on Jesus. He moves to the man and the focus shifts to them. Then Jesus speaks: “Son, your sins are forgiven.”
A murmur ripples through the crowd; what is this Jesus is saying? After all, it’s obvious the man needs healing, not a sermon. But Jesus isn’t through. He looks at the religious leaders, whose temperatures are rising as they ponder “Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” Jesus asks them “Why are you thinking these things? Which is easier: to say to the paralytic ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk?’ But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins…’” Then Jesus looks again at the man – “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” And the man gets up, tucks the mat under his arm and heads out the door. And the people are amazed,
But while the people are amazed, the religious leaders aren’t so sure. This business of forgiving sins doesn’t thrill them; it fact, it upsets them. The healing is hard enough to live with, but this God-like attitude about forgiving sins…well it’s just not kosher. In fact, it’s blasphemous! If Jesus can help people by healing them, they can live with that. But to claim to be God, well, that’s another story.