Read Mark 10.46-52
Our lesson from Mark this morning contains one of the many healing episodes of Jesus, each of which has distinct features. As we explore healing here, I’d like to focus on 3 aspects:
1) The faith of friends.
2) The forgiveness of Jesus.
3) The follow-through of the one healed.
First, the story describes in great detail the tremendous lengths these four men go to find healing for their friend. They have heard of Jesus’ reputation as one who has cast out demons and cleansed lepers. Without ever having met him, they have come to believe that he might have the power to heal their paralyzed friend. And so, they hoist him on his mat and carry him to the place in Capernaum where Jesus is.
When they arrive they find access to Jesus denied by the great crowds that surround him. But this does not put an end to their mission. They look up and concoct a plan. They climb onto the roof and carefully cut open a hole through which they lower their friend. Finally, he meets Jesus face-to-face.
There are many ways Jesus could have responded. He could have been upset by this interruption to his teaching. He might have been angry at them for cutting a hole in the roof. But his first response shows that he looks first into our hearts at our deepest desires and greatest needs.
“When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, Son, your sins are forgiven.”
What motivated Jesus to extend healing? The faith of the friends. Never underestimate your role as a friend, a family member, a neighbor, a brother, or sister in Christ to promote healing for someone hurting physically, emotionally or spiritually. This story shows us there is much we can and should do to extend the healing ministry of Christ to the world.
By visiting someone who is lonely or depressed and, where appropriate, taking him or her to get help.
By not just inviting someone to church, but picking them up, introducing them to friends in faith, discussing it over dinner following fellowship time.
By sending encouraging cards to these struggling to be faithful parents, grandparents, brothers or sisters and let them know they are regularly in your prayers.
Healing happens more than just as the result of random circumstance or medical intervention. We promote healing by lifting up the needs of God’s people to the One great Healer, Jesus Christ.
How does Jesus heal? In various ways. Here, Jesus heals with a word of forgiveness.
“Son, your sins are forgiven.”
This may seem jarring without knowing what sins this man has committed. To suggest that physical ailments such as paralyzation are the result of sin raises more questions for us than it answers. Clearly, our sinful behavior at times results in conditions of illness. We smoke and contact lung cancer. We experiment with drugs and lose precious brain cells. We overeat and develop a heart condition. We engage in promiscuous sex and contact AIDS. Certainly, our behavior contributes to our relative health or disease. Yet, it is more the condition of sin under which we all suffer which produces illness. As Jesus heals, he does not always precede it with a word of forgiveness.
Yet, this paralytic must need one, His condition or the way in which he developed it must be such that he is carrying a weight of guilt that need be lifted. It is possible that simply living in a society that viewed illness as God’s judgment on sin left this man paralyzed by guilt, in need of this public pronouncement of forgiveness by such a powerful teacher.
Are you carrying around a load of guilt? Have you been paralyzed, partially or otherwise by the sense you’ve done something wrong?
The beauty of Jesus’ approach to this man, and to us, is that he extends forgiveness even before there is evidence of confession or repentance. Certainly these are important, but we can confess our sins and change our behavior already knowing that God who is faithful and just, will forgive us our sins and give us new life in Jesus Christ.
If you are weighed down by a load of guilt, look to Christ who is ready to forgive.
Which brings us to point 3 – the follow-through of the one healed. Verse 12
“And he stood up, and immediately took the mat and went out before all of them…” This may not seem like much, but for a paralyzed man to have the faith that he has been healed then demonstrate or testify to this healing within such a group was a major event. Just a few verses before, we find the religious authorities debating Jesus about his method of healing. For this man to stand up and walk he is giving living testimony to the power of God and live in the person of Jesus. He is risking raising the ire of religious authorities. And what if he fell? What guarantee did he have that he’s been instantaneously healed. Only faith gave him the strength to put one foot in front of the other.
Healing from Christ requires follow-through on our part. If we receive healing, yet fail to trust it, our lives won’t change in the least— we’ll be just as we were before. If we receive healing and keep silent about it, we are in essence attempting to restrict the power of God and our capacity to receive or extend healing in the future will be limited. Our best response is to receive healing, walk in faith and give to God through Jesus Christ.