Mark 2.1 thru 12 City of Hope
City of Hope!
(Please stand)-Our sermon text today is Mark 2:12 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!" This is our text. (Please be seated)
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Throughout the beginning of Mark, Jesus has been healing people and calling people to Him and telling them that the “Kingdom of God is at hand.” He is also telling them to “repent and believe in the gospel.” The question is begged, “What is this Kingdom of God and what does it entail?” Now, in chapter two, conflict begins between Jesus and the religious leaders. This text is showing two groups; those that are responding positively to the kingdom and those that are responding negatively. We see that those that respond positively are blessed and receive the blessings of the kingdom, and those that do not are rejected and will not inherit the kingdom. It is becoming clear that we should seek the Kingdom of God and that all will benefit from the blessings of this Kingdom.
In our text for today, we have this paralyzed man who is truly stuck on this bed throughout his life. He really is not able to function in the society of his time because of his situation. He is beholden to the people around him in many ways, in that he can’t move and has to depend on others to feed him and take care of him because of his blight.
I think we can draw a parallel with the people that are caught in the paralysis of poverty in the inner city today. These people are struggling individuals stuck in poverty, violence, family dysfunction and strife often throughout their life. They don’t have a lot of choices necessarily as to how to get out of their situation, or at least they can’t see them because of their afflictions. I submit to you that both the paralytic and the people of the inner city are paralyzed by circumstances, environment, and the sin of this fallen world. They are both examples of people that are in need of help. They, in fact, are both people that are in need of Jesus and His loving care.
In our text we see that some loving people help their helpless friend and something miraculous takes place. They carry him to this house that Jesus was in. They show persistence in helping him even when it gets difficult. They find that they can’t easily get him into the house so they tear apart the roof, get on their hands and knees and dig with their hands to break through the dirt of the sod roof. This is persistence that can only be out of love for their brother and faith in what they are doing. Nothing is going to stop them from bringing this paralytic into the presence of Jesus, the Savior. This is a display of great faith and Jesus sees this faith. He sees the faith of these people that go through all this trouble to open up the roof and lower this man down to Him.
The parallel here could be made with a loving church full of friends that helps the people of the inner city. It most certainly be a struggle that would be costly, time consuming, and even dangerous. One knows there will be challenges and obstacles. We might have to get on our knees at times. We may have to dig through dirt and persist even when there seems to be no way to get the people to see Jesus. But, nevertheless, there are clearly people in need of help that are around us. I’m sure each of us has found ways to help people in our lives already. But there is no clearer group of people that have been placed right in our backyard and are screaming for help. The people of the inner city of Cincinnati are paralyzed by poverty, violence, and most importantly…sin. These are our neighbors. These are the neighbors that have been beaten and thrown to the side of the road as in the story of the Good Samaritan. Of course this is true of people in the suburbs too and also the country. There are people all over that need Jesus, but these impoverished people in the inner parts of Cincinnati are the obviously poor and they seem to have more challenges heaped on top of the “daily struggle” of human life. This is because of the violence and hopelessness that surrounds them. There is evil abounding in the city. We see it every night on the news. This area has been, for all intents and purposes, abandoned in many ways by the society at large. The inner city like many other cities in the world has been cordoned off and, aside from sending money and supplies in, and taking the dead out, people generally don’t go into these areas. Yet they are God’s children…they are the “least of these” that He speaks of in Matthew 25…
In our text you have Jesus responding to the faith of the people who bring the paralytic to Him. He responds to the faith of the people and, in response to this non verbal request that they are making to heal this man, Jesus forgives the man and heals him. Through His power, and His power alone, the paralytic is forgiven and healed. He is healed in view of the faith of the people that have brought him. He is accepted as a child in the way that Jesus calls him, “My son” and is healed without question. He is healed by Jesus not just as a statement but as an actual pardon and absolution and nothing less. When Christ forgives, he forgives freely, fully, absolutely. He came to “save His people from their sins” and this is when He first shows His spiritual purpose to His people in Mark. To save from sin those who come to Him.
We too have the opportunity to bring paralyzed children of God into His presence! We, who should be seeking ways to serve the one who has forgiven us every day of our lives, have this opportunity to be party to miracles! We should be seizing the opportunities that are put before us to help our neighbor, love one another, and bring the healing of Jesus’ forgiveness to people that don’t know Him. This is what we are called to do as we are here on earth!
There are those that will reject Jesus in both the text and the city. In the text, we have the scribes who recognize that “only God can forgive sins.” Now they are correct in asserting this. Jesus acknowledges what they are thinking “in their hearts.” This appears to be an obstacle to the reader, but remember; whenever we see people discussing among themselves what Jesus said or did throughout the Bible they often get off course. When the disciples do it, when the Pharisees do it, and now when the scribes do it, they just don’t get it…and it shows. They are not going to the source, and that is the problem. They need only to go to Him and they would understand…but isn’t that also true today of both His detractors and people of the church? Don’t they talk foolishness among themselves about Christ and ultimately reveal their lack of understanding when they don’t go to the source? When we discuss among ourselves things having to do with ministry, mission, or building and leave the word of God out of it, we allow discussion to be dominated by personal feelings or private agendas instead of God’s agenda. There will be those in the city and even in the church that will ask, “Should this be happening?” or “Do you think this is a prudent use of our time and resources?” Let us listen to Jesus, who is the Son of God, at all times!
So, now we get to the real point of the text. This is when He separates the ones who reject Him and those that would believe in Him and be blessed. This is the revelation of the Son of God to those that would recognize Him! This is when Jesus says to the scribes, “Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your bed and go home’?” This is when he reveals that He is, in fact, that which they say He would have to be. This is how He is revealed to all. Through this healing of the paralytic He reveals that He is the Son of God and therefore he does in fact have “authority on earth to forgive sins.” When people see the miracle of the healing that takes place through the power of the Son of God, this is when people are “amazed” and they themselves “glorify God”! They are so amazed that they say, in effect, “We never saw anything like this!”
We have a savior that has this kind of power! We have a savior that we have the opportunity to serve in a way that will reveal Him to all through what He does for the sick, afflicted, poor…or paralyzed! You see…we know the truth. We know that when Jesus comes into our lives we receive all the blessings of the kingdom. We receive these blessings only through the power of the only Son of God. We receive, through our baptism and our faith in Him, the hope that comes with eternal life in His kingdom. Through this Savior that did what He did for us on the cross, and through that act, He saved us from the paralysis of sin. We became a new creation free from the sin of the world that surrounds us. Now, isn’t this something that we would want to pass on to these people that are in such pain and in such need of the love and forgiveness that only He can give. This then unleashes a witness of Christ’s power for all to see in a dramatic way. Those that are healed go forth free from sin and they even carry their bed with them, in that they are a new creation, yet were once in the depths of hell. Therefore, like the paralytic, they show the world the power of the forgiveness and healing that comes through the power of Christ by the way they are able to carry the burdens of the inner city as the paralytic carries his bed out into the world.
Let the people say, “…We have never seen anything like this!” Amen