I’m reading through the book of Mark during my quiet time right now. I had someone on a podcast mention the book of Mark and how it is not necessarily one of the more studied gospels. One thing I am noticing already about Mark is that this book gets right to the point. There is no big story about Jesus’ birth. It jumps right into John the Baptist preparing the way for Jesus, goes straight to the baptism of Jesus, the temptation of Jesus and Jesus beginning His ministry in the first chapter. He has already begun gathering his disciples and started His healing and His teaching ministry. I guess Mark is kind of like my husband, get to the point, there is no need for a lot of fluff. I personally tend to like the fluff of a story, it drives my husband crazy. Anyway….
In the 2d chapter of Mark, Jesus has returned to Capernaum and word has spread that He is home. Apparently the people were trying to get to Him, so commentary points out that instead of Jesus being on the street where people would be trying to get at Him for healing, He was inside a building to teach and preach. I want to look at the characters of this passage.
First there was the crowd, the cast of extras so to speak.
“And many were gathered together so that there was no more room, not even at the door. And he was preaching the word to them.” Mark 2:2
At this point in Jesus’ ministry it appears that He was attracting crowds. But rather than being on the streets where people would want the healing and possibly to go their way, Jesus wants to be sure that the people are learning something too. So He positions Himself to teach them by being indoors where maybe the coming and going isn’t as easy. My thoughts here are that Jesus desires for the crowd to be able to take something with them when they leave. How easy it would be on the streets for them to get close enough to see the healing ministry of Jesus and maybe even to be amazed by it, but to carry on without a thought to why Jesus was in the business of healing. That what He was really after was their heart.
Then let’s look at the four friends. We all need friends like these guys. They wanted to carry their friend right up to Jesus to ask Jesus to do something for their friend. And their tenacity in it showed.
“And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him, and when they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay.” Mark 2:4
These 4 friends were so set on getting their friend to Jesus that they tore off the roof in order to do so. I guess in my mind, I always just thought that maybe this was a room with no roof, but it had never occurred to me before that they had to tear into the roof above Him. And when I read in commentary, they would have had to cause quite a stir and actually tear into it. They had a determination and a faith in bringing their friend to Jesus. Have you ever brought your friends to Jesus with that kind of determination. I hope I am that kind of friend to my friends that need and ask for prayer. We may not be able to physically carry our friends to Jesus these days but we can certainly carry our friends to Jesus in prayer. When our friends ask us for prayer, are we carrying them like these four friends carried their paralytic friend, with the tenacity they showed, tearing off roofs if we have to on behalf of our friends.
The next character in the story is the paralytic man.
“And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven.’” Mark 2:5
What? The paralytic’s friends thought they were bringing their friend to Jesus to be healed so that he could walk again and the first thing that Jesus does is forgive his sins. That right there is a picture of the fact that Jesus is always after the heart first. The physical healing, the emotional healing, the financial healing, really any healing, comes after the heart healing. One thing I learned a long time ago in some hard seasons of life is not just to pray to get through the hard season but to ask the Lord what He wanted to teach me in the hard season. Jesus wants to go with us through those hard seasons so that our hearts are in a different place on the other side, not just for the sake of getting through them.
The Pharisees are also characters in this story.
“‘Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?’” Mark 2:7
I don’t want to be like the Pharisees in this story, but there are always Pharisees in every story aren’t there? The Pharisees are the naysayers, the ones who will question your faith and who will tear you down if you aren’t careful.
And then there was Jesus, the main character of the gospel story! Jesus has forgiven the man’s heart and then He heals the man physically too.
“‘But you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins’ – he said to the paralytic – ‘I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.’” Mark 2:10-11
There are so many characters in this story, and I have found myself in several roles. I’ve been one of the crowd, where I felt like I was on the sidelines watching others. I’ve been the friend who carried my friends in prayer. I have felt almost paralyzed at times in some hurts that I have been the paralytic that my friends carried in prayer. Unfortunately, I’ve also been the pious Pharisee, the naysayer, I don’t like it when I am that person. What about you? Can you find yourself in this story. I want to be the friends who carry, I want the kind of faith that I will tear down walls or roofs or whatever for my friends to carry them to the feet of Jesus. I’m grateful to have been the friend who was carried. I pray that I stay away from being the naysayer and almost as bad, that I will not be just one of the crowd.