Your faith has such significant implications for others! The man we read about in Mark 2 who was paralyzed had brothers around him who believed Jesus would do what He said He would do. They did not allow the obstacles, the fear, the uncertainty, or the challenges to get in the way of the faith they had in Jesus. How about you? Do you have a community like this who will lift you up when you are down and who will carry you to the feet of Jesus? Do you seek to show your faith to others in this same way? May we all grow deeper in our faith, deeper in our community, and deeper in our understanding of all that Jesus yearns to do in our lives.
Christ and Conflict
The authors of the books of the Bible chose not to bury conflict; in some cases, they not only acknowledged Jesus’ conflicts, but showcased them. Each time Jesus was questioned, He revealed His authority and wisdom through his response.
As we read the second chapter of Mark, we see that Jesus Christ was repeatedly challenged by the religious elite of His day. In fact, it only takes until verse six of the third chapter for Him to draw murderous intentions: The Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus. (Mark 3:6)
But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves! What are some of the things Jesus said and did in Mark 2 that were so controversial in the eyes of the Pharisees?
Forgiving and Healing the Paralyzed Man
Have you heard this story before? The friends of a paralytic had faith so bold that they cut a hole in a roof and lowered their friend down on a mat, just to ask that Jesus would heal him. Noticing their faith, Jesus forgave the man’s sins!
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?” – Mark 2:6-7
What these onlookers failed to recognize in this moment was that Jesus, Himself, is God! Therefore, knowing their thoughts, Jesus proved His authority: 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.” (Mark 2:9-11)
As the account says, the man then miraculously did as he was told, and everyone was amazed. But let’s look even deeper into this story.
Imagine you were the paralytic in this moment, face to face with a man who could heal illness and disease with His words or touch alone. Would you be satisfied to hear Him say, “your sins are forgiven”? Odds are you would be a little disappointed not to have been physically healed! But Jesus chose to forgive sins before healing earthly sickness. This is because forgiveness of sins was — and is – His most important power. He healed many so they could live more happily on earth; He forgives the sins of all who ask so that we all may live joyously with Him for eternity.
As glorious as His healing power was and is, it pales in comparison to the glory of God revealed in His forgiveness of our sins so that we can be restored to Him. Ultimately, Jesus used the visible healing of the paralyzed man’s body to reveal that He had, indeed, completed the invisible and eternal healing of the man from his sins.
Jesus Associates With Sinners
Jesus called Levi (also known as Matthew, the tax collector) to follow Him and later ate dinner with Levi and other sinners. When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” (Mark 2:16)
Jesus associated Himself with sinners not because He condoned their sinful ways, but because He wanted them to come to a transformational faith in Him and turn from those ways. Verse 17 shows Jesus’ response: “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
This was a point of contention for the religious elite. Jesus wanted to include everyone in His ministry. Have you ever caught yourself thinking, is Jesus really enough for that person? Or does this person really belong in the church with how they live their life? This is the wisdom of Christ which is revealed in this part of the Gospel of Mark: Jesus invites everyone to join in the journey! He is enough, and if you’ve sinned (we all have!), He’s for you.
A Word on The Authority of Wisdom
All of Mark 2 shows Jesus’ wisdom and authority over the opinions of the religious elites. But why were the Pharisees — people who studied Scripture so intensely — on the other side of arguments with God Himself? Well, they may have had knowledge, but they lacked God’s wisdom. Knowledge is the accumulation of information. Wisdom is the proper application of knowledge.
Man can have an encyclopedic knowledge of Scripture, but without wisdom, that knowledge is folly. Knowledge is good, but without acknowledgement of Christ as our Lord and Savior, we cannot know Truth. And the Gospel is best communicated when the wisdom of those who believe it can be observed by those who don’t! Therefore, we should all pray that we may have the mind of Christ and grow in wisdom.