Mark 2:1-15 (healing of the paralytic)
Jesus heals, and even more significantly Jesus forgives sins. In this story from Mark 2 Jesus knew that this paralyzed man’s greatest need was not go walk, but to be forgiven. Jesus our gracious God solved both of these problems for this man: he forgave his sins, and he healed the man so that he could walk. That is what Christ our Lord does: he forgives sins and heals.
The house was packed that day: standing room only, and not even much of that left. People were blocking the door, crowding in to hear what Jesus had to say. And with good reason: Jesus was “speaking the word, telling the people God’s message in his amazing way, “as one having authority, and not as the scribes” .
The friends of the paralyzed man knew that he needed what Jesus could provide, and so they brought him to Jesus. That is what friends do: they bring their friends to Jesus, so that Jesus can meet their needs, so that Jesus can heal, so that He can forgive their sins.
Rather than be discouraged by the crowd, the blocked doorway, the fact that the scribes were seated taking up space rather than helping get their friend in to see Jesus, these friends persevered, and in a dramatic act went up to the roof, dug a hole, and lowered their friend in front of Jesus. Dramatic and unexpected, yes, but really unavoidable: their friend needed Jesus, and they were bound and determined to bring their friend to Jesus. I can imagine the high-fives and hugs on the roof when they saw their friend get up and walk. Jesus gave their friend what only he could give. Their efforts to get their friend to be with Jesus were successful.
What was Jesus’ plan to perform his ministry? It was to call men to be with Him, who in turn could bring others to be with Him. To be with Jesus means that you can hear him, be forgiven by him, be healed by him. Just before this story Jesus had called some men to be with him (Simon and Andrew, James and John), and immediately after he continued by calling Levi.
Jesus’ plan seems to work: Simon brought Jesus to his sick mother-in-law. Jesus healed her. That evening, his (at that time four) disciples went out to bring to Jesus all who were ill and those who were demon-possessed . After calling Levi, a tax collector, Jesus was seen eating with many tax collectors—likely these were Levi’s co-workers—and these were following Him .
Jesus called 12 disciples according to Mark 3:14 “so that they would be with Him and that he could send them out to preach.” Jesus’ plan was more than publicly preaching and casting out demons in the synagogues. His plan was to recruit men to be with him and to bring others to be with Him, so that he could forgive and heal them.
Has Jesus’ plan changed? It has not. Jesus’ plan is still that men be with him, and go out to bring others to be with Him so that he can forgive and heal them. Whether they can walk, or need to be carried on a pallet, Jesus’ plan is for us to bring people to him so that he can do for them what only he can do.
Today, just as in Capernaum, public preaching is not the sole (or perhaps even the most important) aspect of Christ’s ministry. His ministry was (and is) based on being with people, and having people bring other people to him.
Today, just as in Mark, sometimes people bring family (1:19-30), sometimes co-workers (2:15), sometimes friends (2:3), and sometimes others with needs from the community (1:32). Today, just as in Mark, sometimes Jesus’ ministry requires people be carried, roofs dug through, or homes entered—all so that people can be brought to him. Today, just as in Mark, sometimes crowds or skeptical leaders would interfere with our bringing people to be with Jesus. Today, just as in Mark, Jesus calls us to be with him, and to go out and bring others to him.
May we always be ready and willing to be with Jesus, to carry pallets, to dig holes in roofs, and bring to Jesus family, co-workers, and people from the community so that they can receive His much-needed forgiveness and healing.
Men are God’s method. The church is looking for better methods; God is looking for better men. … What the church needs today is not more machinery or better, not new organizations or more and novel methods, but men whom the Holy Ghost can use — men of prayer, men mighty in prayer. The Holy Ghost does not come on machinery, but on men. He does not anoint plans, but men — men of prayer. …
The training of the Twelve was the great, difficult and enduring work of Christ. … It is not great talents or great learning or great preachers that God needs, but men great in holiness, great in faith, great in love, great in fidelity, great for God — men always preaching by holy sermons in the pulpit, by holy lives out of it. These can mold a generation for God.
E. M. Bounds (1835-1913), Power Through Prayer