Friday

15 October 2021

Mark 2:1-12

...they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, 'We have never seen anything like this!' (v. 12)

Psalm 16

Background

After travelling around the local area, Jesus has now returned to Capernaum (v. 1). He had previously left the town early one morning in part because of the difficulty caused by the crowds he was attracting, so perhaps the situation had calmed down a little to allow his return. However that calm wasn’t going to last for long, and very quickly the narrative indicates there is a huge crush of people around the house (Mark 1:33).

It’s not clear whetherJesus was again staying in the house of Simon and Andrew (Mark 1:29). We can only imagine the reaction of all those living in the house about what happened next. The roof of the house literally fell in as those carrying a paralysed man showed to what lengths they were prepared to go to ensure their friend had the opportunity to be healed by Jesus.

It’s striking that rather than focusing on his physical paralysis, the first thing Jesus tells him is “Your sins are forgiven” (v. 5). The belief that illness and disability were in some way linked to the sinfulness of either the individual or even their parents was commonplace at that time, so those hearing these words would not be surprised by this link. However what would have been surprising was the suggestion that Jesus had the authority to forgive sins, that no ritual cleansing was involved and that the paralytic man himself did not acknowledge any sins or seek forgiveness for them. Jesus saw the faith of the man and his friends (v. 5), made no requirements of them and acted through unconditional grace.

We can now, for the first time in Mark’s Gospel, see how Jesus’ actions started to put him in direct conflict with the religious authorities. They were now among the crowds and watching him carefully (v. 6). It wasn’t the healing that disturbed them but the religious implications of declaring that a person’s sins were forgiven. This was a priestly role, not for someone like Jesus, and it will become increasingly clear as the narrative develops that it’s this conflict that will become central to Jesus’ future.


To Ponder:

  • In what ways could you help 'carry' those you know to be in need?
  • Are there still times when religious laws seem to be at variance with the mission of Jesus? What should we do to address this?
  • When challenged by the religious scribes Jesus says that “the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins” (Mark 2:10). The Old Testament prophet Ezekiel was often referred to as “son of man” (e.g. 25:2 NIV), and the vision of Daniel alludes to this too (Daniel 7:13–14). What do you understand by this?

Bible notes author

Dr Richard Vautrey

Richard Vautrey is a local preacher and church steward in Leeds, and a former Vice-President of the Methodist Conference. He works as a GP, is an elected member of the BMA Council and is chair of the BMA's GP committee.

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