A Lenten Journey: Climbing to the Cross – Day EIGHT

Mark 2:1-12, Today’s New International Version

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!”


Do you deal with paralysis? 

I mean, are there some things in this life that literally paralyze you? 

Maybe things like this:
     fear about the future;
     worry about someone you love – a child, if you have one, or a parent, a friend, 
         a spouse;
     grief over the loss of a loved one or a loved relationship;
     overwhelming feelings of inadequacy;
     creeping depression;
     inertia, what the desert fathers and mothers called ‘acedia;’
     chronic fatigue;
     too many small children with too many noisy needs;
     too many teenaged children with too many mysterious needs;
     constantly feeling as though you are somehow never quite ‘enough?’
     generalized anxiety that literally stops you in your tracks.

There are lots of ways to be paralyzed. 

There is, of course, physical paralysis – what seems to be described in this Jesus episode. 

But there is also psychological and spiritual paralysis – an inability to make forward movement without help.

And in our story today, help is provided! 

Friends see a need.
     And they see a possible solution to that need.
     They circle around.
     They brainstorm to overcome obstacles.
     They try something downright crazy, even borderline rude, to get their friend the help he needs.

And then…

Then Jesus looks at the friends, at their faith – their belief that help can be found – and he turns to the man who cannot move and says, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”

Your sins are forgiven. 

Sort of a strange thing to say, when you think about it.
And it certainly alarmed all the religious folks who were there to watch the show. According to their boxed-in picture of God and how God works, Jesus is dangerously close to blasphemy with these words, for only God can judge or forgive sin. 

And it is clear that Jesus is offering forgiveness, and out of forgiveness, healing.

But…is Jesus also casting judgment on this man?
On top of the grief and pain of paralysis, is Jesus laying a guilt trip on the guy? 

I don’t think so. 

He calls him, ‘son,’ for one thing,
a term of endearment, tenderness, concern. 

Sounds a lot more like compassion than judgment to my ears.
With these words, Jesus is making a statement about us all; he offers a recognition of our oh-so-human condition.

Because, you see
     we are broken (and in need of healing)
     and we are sinful (and in need of forgiveness), 
     all of it the result of our shared human compulsion
          to be our own god.

And Jesus came to save us from all of it – 
     the sin bits and the broken bits – 
and to restore to us 
     the grace, 
     the beauty, 
     and the divine image 
that is part of the original design. 

So why not say, “Your sins are forgiven?” 
And then, of course, also say, “Be healed.”

But here’s the piece I don’t want to miss – oh, I really don’t want to miss this!

WE CAN HELP EACH OTHER when paralysis takes over.
We can pool our faith with that of one or two or three others – perhaps when our paralyzed friends can’t quite find their own? 

And then we can lean into our shared faith (where two or three are gathered, right?) as we carry our paralyzed friend into the very presence of Jesus. 

We can circle around,
     we can brainstorm creatively and lovingly,
     we can identify where help can be found, and
     we can help carry our friend into exactly the right place,
the place of healing and forgiveness.

Isn’t that amazing?


Great Healer, Great Savior – You are the help we need. Thank you for inviting us into the helping circle with you. And thank you for revealing Truth with a capital “T” to skilled and willing people who can help us to deal with medical/ psychological/emotional/spiritual maladies. Help me to see what this man’s friends saw – to see people in trouble and to work and pray and recommend and refer and carry them bodily if I have to, so that more and more of us can move toward health and wholeness. So that we can get ‘unstuck,’ pick up our mats and walk outta here.

Click here for day one of this series and an explanation of what it’s all about.

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  1. Thank you for this post.  It is so easy to forget that we are not in this relationship with God alone.  We have people who can walk with us through this relationship.

  2. Diana Trautwein says

    Thanks for stopping by, Andrea. And yes, it is really good to remember that the Christian joruney was never designed to be a ‘Long Ranger’ sport! I am so grateful for that.

  3. I love this idea of pooled faith. It makes a great healing lake.

  4. Diana Trautwein says

    Oooooh, I really, really like that picture. Thank you, Sandy.

  5. This passage was just preached on a couple of weeks ago. The theme was that we all experience paralysis when we are infants. We’re completely dependent on other people for our first few months. All about becoming more childlike.

  6. Diana Trautwein says

    That’s an interesting take on this chunk. I tend to think of childlike as just that – childlike, not infant-like. But I see the point, I think. It’s about acknowledging our dependence on the care of others and The Other. Sounds like the preacher pulled out the dependency theme more than the paralysis theme??