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Mark 2.1-12 (NIV)
Jesus Forgives and Heals a Paralyzed Man
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 paralyzed 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 paralyzed 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 paralyzed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’? But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the man, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” 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!”
For a year we have been surrounded by building work as various neighbours have been renovating – or virtually re-building – their properties. So I can easily picture the scene as this group of friends burst through the roof; the noise, the dust, a sudden burst of light as the hole opens up.
Jesus had moved from Nazareth to Capernaum and in the first two verses we are told that he has returned from a short preaching trip around neighbouring villages. It is most likely that this is his own house, so just imagine it – you have returned from a trip ready for a cup of tea and a sit down before unpacking, but you find there are crowds surrounding your house so that it is difficult even to reach the front door.
So how would you feel if after fighting your way into your house, you look up and see a gaping hole opening in your roof with a group of men staring down at you. So it is quite remarkable that the reaction of Jesus is to shrug his shoulders and say ‘I forgive you!’ But not just for making a hole in his roof, he forgives the man all his sins!
But only priests, calling on the name of God, could forgive sins, so no wonder those around began to feel uneasy. ‘Who does he think he is?’ But he asserts his authority and indeed the paralyzed man gets up and walks.
In today’s society forgiveness is often seen as a sign of weakness – revenge, thinly veiled as justice, is what is required. Once more Jesus upsets the natural order of things; the hole in his roof is nothing to the hole that he is tearing into a whole way of life.
And as for us? Do not stay on the edge of the crowd, but dig your way through that roof to find yourself in the very presence of God. You may get more than you bargained for, but once you meet the living, forgiving God in the person of Jesus, like that paralyzed man you will find the power to spring to your feet and walk out into the world!
So we pray:
The Collect – Baptism of Christ (alternative)
at the Jordan you revealed Jesus as your Son:
may we recognize him as our Lord
and know ourselves to be your beloved children;
through Jesus Christ our Saviour. Amen