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Healed or Cured?

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Mark 2:1–12 NRSV
1 When he returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. 2 So many gathered around that there was no longer room for them, not even in front of the door; and he was speaking the word to them. 3 Then some people came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. 4 And when they could not bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him; and after having dug through it, they let down the mat on which the paralytic lay. 5 When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” 6 Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, 7 “Why does this fellow speak in this way? It is blasphemy! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” 8 At once Jesus perceived in his spirit that they were discussing these questions among themselves; and he said to them, “Why do you raise such questions in your hearts? 9 Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Stand up and take your mat and walk’? 10 But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the paralytic— 11 “I say to you, stand up, take your mat and go to your home.” 12 And he stood up, and immediately took the mat and went out before all of them; so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!”
Mark 2:1-12


I hope I haven’t bit off more than I can chew here. I studied this topic for a whole semester while I was in seminary and I have always wanted to do a sermon series on it. That is the difference from how we understand disease and healing and the way they did in Jesus day. It is fairly complicated, but I think, an important topic for us. There is a lot of misunderstanding about the way God heals versus cures. Healing and curing are not the same thing. Let me explain.
We live in a goal oriented time, we don;t have to worry as much about our survival as they did in Jesus day. In Jesus day the average person was more concerned with just being than doing like we are today. You can refer back to Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs here. As you can see in Jesus day they were stuck in the bottom two parts of the pyramid. Today most of us have those needs taken care of and can go on to self actualization, pr being driven by goals. You could say we can look forward to the future where the first century folks could only live day to day.
Our kind of living, which is goal driven results in individualization and competition. In jesus day it took a community of people to survive. Rather than competition there was cooperation. if there were any goals they were group as opposed to individual goals.
Also, the people in Jesus day had no control over nature whatsoever. We do, just one example would be vaccines or even antibiotics.
To sum this up, we understand illness in an individual sense, as something that prevents us from functioning to maintain or individuality. Where in Jesus day illness had to do with the whole person as a state of being rather than functioning. That state of being was a wholeness as it relates to community. In other words sickness excluded us from the community.
This means that the sickness problems presented to Jesus are concerned with a state of being rather than an inability to function.--values make the difference. What a westerner might interpret as a loss of function an ancient reader would see as a dis-valued state of being, paralysis for example.
So, in a nutshell today we focus on therapies on causes seeking a cure. This is control over nature. A cure is taking effective control of a disordered biological and/or psychological process usually identified as a disease. This is curing.
As I said somewhat complicated. But because of our worldview toward scientific control of nature, and Jesus of no control over nature the emphasis on Jesus time was on the person and today its on the disease. I think the ideal situation would be a balance between the two, which frankly we only see at the end of life today in hospice care. I think methodist Theologian Leonard Sweet sums it up best “When medicine has done all it can do, which is everything humanly possible, religion is supposed to take over.”
As I said somewhat complicated. But because of our worldview toward scientific control of nature, and Jesus of no control over nature the emphasis on Jesus time was on the person and today its on the disease. I think the ideal situation would be a balance between the two, which frankly we only see at the end of life today in hospice care. I think methodist Theologian Leonard Sweet sums it up best “When medicine has done all it can do, which is everything humanly possible, religion is supposed to take over.”
Curing just involves function, healing involves mental, social, and a spiritual dimension.
Sweet again:
The healing forces of faith, hope, and love are not incidental to health and medicine. Like an antibiotic, faith, hope, and love enter the system quickly and do their work slowly. Curing, or the removal of disease, may take place with medical means alone. But healing, or the triumphal reentry into one’s total environment, only takes place in partnership with faith. Medical healing is the knowledge of God manifested through science. Spiritual healing is the knowledge of God manifested through faith. It is the same knowledge. It is the same God.
So, it’s possible to be healed, but not cured!
Now with this in mind, let’s turn to the scripture for today


I think the place to start today is to understand Jesus message in Mark.
Mark 1;14-15
Mark 1:14–15 NRSV
14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.”
Jesus message in Mark is that the Kingdom of God has come near. He proclaims the same thing in Luke at the beginning of his ministry by quoting form Isaiah.
Luke 4:18–19 NRSV
18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
Luke 4:
of course this is what we have talked about for the last 4 weeks, the new creation or the Kingdom of God when God has set all thing right, defeated evil, and there is no more death, no more disease. There is the shalom of God, or the wholeness that God always intended for his creation. We see this in jesus’ miracle here.
jesus has just started his ministry and has returned to his home base in Galilee. He has taught, healed, exorcised demons and run into some trouble with the religious authorities. he is attracting huge crowds and even more attention from the religious authorities inJerusalem
The story begins in a house we don’t know if it’s Jesus house or Peter’s house. Most scholar’s think it was Peter’s house because Peter’s house seemed to be Jesus base of operations. First century Palestinian houses were not too big. (describe houses.) The roofs were accessible from the outside and flat. Here you can see what the roof would have looked like.
There are too many folks for the 4 men to bring their friend in for Jesus to heal him. So they lower him through the roof. This would not have been as unusual to the people there as it is to us. They often let things down through the roofs of Palestinian homes.
They dig through the roof it says and the lower him on his mat. This mat would have been basically a large bag filled with straw. Jesus looks at him and the first thing he says is “Child, your sins are forgiven.” Now, I want you to consider for just a minute going to your Doctor. Waiting 30 minutes to an hour past your appointment time, goin to the examination room, and your Doctor walks in looks at you and says “Child, your sins are forgiven.” That would be really odd would it not.
Well, the Scribes are upset, but only because they think only God can forgive sins. But Jesus is doing a merciful thing here. As I said, healing wasn’t about restoring functionality it was about creating new meaning for the sufferer. Jesus treats the separation before the function. Ge goes right to the man’s soul. Secondly, this is not that unusual because the prevailing worldview was that only sinners were the one’s stricken with this kind of illness. Now, Jesus didn’t believe this. Here
John 9:1–3 NRSV
1 As he walked along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 3 Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him.
God does not practice retribution. Now, this is not to say that some of our illnesses are not caused by bad choices. We know cigarettes can cause cancer, hypertension and ruin our lungs. Drug and alcohol abuse can run our hearts, our teeth, our pancreas and liver among other things. Promiscuity can lead to STD. Byt he same token you can look at someone like Keith Richards who has had a lifetime of drug abuse, or Ozzy Osborne and they haven’t seen any of these kind of consequences.
So Jesus heals the soul, then heals the physical. By just speaking the word, the man is able to rise, pick up his mat and walk home. The insight is that there is indeed a close and age-old connexion between man’s fallen estate and everything that afflicts him, with the further implication that God’s will is for man’s wholeness, or completeness in every aspect of his being
We tend to treat our bodies as machines. If we have a defective part we go to the Doctor and ask him to fix that part so we can function normally again. Here though we see that there is much more to healing than to curing. We are not machines, and there are a number of factors that contribute to healing.
As for the scribes, well, let’s just say they had spiritual paralysis for not seeing that the Kingdom of God has come near! As you can see there was no healing for them. It’s hard to be healed when you don;t know you’re sick!


Well, what does this mean for us today? I think the first thing to think about is that if you are sick or suffering from a debilitating illness it is not the result of sinful behavior for most of us. However, if it has resulted from bad choices, forgiveness and healing is available for you! Child your sins are forgiven. The truth of the matter is, we are all sinners and whether we have an affliction that has resulted from sinful behavior or not we all need the restoration and redemption that Jesus Christ brings.
Maslow’s pyramid does not bring use wholeness, because wholeness is found in our relationship with Christ. It is hard to find true meaning separated from God. Like we heard from Paul last week, if you try to live apart from God you are caught in darkness in the futility of your mind. That is why Jesus forgave sins before curing the man with paralysis.
Finally, faith doesn’t heal you. This story talk more about the faith of the four the brought the man then the faith of the man. So don’t buy the argument that if you had enough faith God will heal you. That’s a legalistic description of how God heals. Grace is free and offered to all.
However we’ll end on this note. Healing, or wholeness is not just individual. It is not just functional it is holistic. As you can see it took the community to get the man to Jesus. Have you ever thought you have stretcher bearers? Thank God for them.
Maybe the better question is who are we called to be stretcher bearers for?
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