Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Mark, Chapter 2

In my opinion, faith is a commodity that ebbs and flows as we walk through life. There are moments where I am so full of faith that I feel like I am flying. At other times, I feel so empty that I openly question whether there is any point in having faith. To make matters more confusing, there are even times where it feels like faith is the only thing we have because nothing else is going to work. I think we see an example of that in the beginning of Mark, chapter 2. In this situation, Jesus chooses to deliver important lessons, as well as detract from His critics.

3Some men came, bringing to him a paralytic, carried by four of them. 4Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus and, after digging through it, lowered the mat the paralyzed man was lying on. 5When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "Son, your sins are forgiven."

6Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, 7"Why does this fellow talk like that? He's blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?"

8Immediately 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? 9Which is easier: to say to the paralytic, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Get up, take your mat and walk'? 10But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins . . . ." – Mark 2:3-10

What did these men have to lose? The friend they were trying to help was a paralytic, and likely had been for years. Clearly, medical technology at the time couldn’t help him. It is even more likely that this guy was lucky to be alive at that point. The last thing on his mind was probably sinning, yet forgiving his sins is the first thing that Jesus did for him. Jesus saw first his need for eternal salvation. Even if Jesus had healed him first, the man would still have been in need of salvation. To Jesus, this was more important. His primary message was one of forgiveness, so He took this opportunity to demonstrate as such. The fact that he later also healed the man backed up His point.

27Then he said to them, "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. 28So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath." – Mark 2:27-28

This is an important point here. It comes at a time where Jesus was correcting those who had put too much emphasis on the method as opposed to the result of such methods. To the Pharisees, they had become so consumed with the rituals and methods they were supposed to carry out they had forgotten the meaning of why they were carried out. They did not realize that they were supposed to serve God, not the Sabbath. I think we see this somewhat today in the current church. We see it when churches get caught up more in finding sin than in forgiving it. The best example I can think of is the church in from Wichita, Kansas, that campaigns heavily against homosexuality. They carry placards saying “God hates Fags” while protesting at soldiers’ funerals. Instead of hating the sin, as Jesus did, they are hating the sinner. God does not hate anyone. What He hates is the way that sin corrupts us and makes us lose sight of Him. This is what Jesus spoke of here against the Pharisees.

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