I recently finished reading the gospel of Matthew and have moved on to Mark.
Mark has always had a special place to my heart. We studied this book in one of my first Bible studies. I love its fast pace and concise stories.
Earlier this week, I read the story of Jesus healing the paralyzed man. I posted the whole thing here. I encourage you to read it. I guess that’s obvious 🙂 But I know my tendency is to skim over familiar Bible stories when I see them in blog posts. So that’s why I’m encouraging you to actually read it. Maybe God will show you something you haven’t noticed before, as He did with me.
When Jesus returned to Capernaum several days later, the news spread quickly that he was back home. Soon the house where he was staying was so packed with visitors that there was no more room, even outside the door. While he was preaching God’s word to them, four men arrived carrying a paralyzed man on a mat. They couldn’t bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, so they dug a hole through the roof above his head. Then they lowered the man on his mat, right down in front of Jesus. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man, “My child, your sins are forgiven.”
But some of the teachers of religious law who were sitting there thought to themselves, “What is he saying? This is blasphemy! Only God can forgive sins!”
Jesus knew immediately what they were thinking, so he asked them, “Why do you question this in your hearts? Is it easier to say to the paralyzed man ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or ‘Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk’? So I will prove to you that the Son of Man[a] has the authority on earth to forgive sins.” Then Jesus turned to the paralyzed man and said, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and go home!”
And the man jumped up, grabbed his mat, and walked out through the stunned onlookers. They were all amazed and praised God, exclaiming, “We’ve never seen anything like this before!”
This is one of my favorite stories of Jesus. There’s several things I love about it. I love that Jesus once again shows His heart for the lost by healing and forgiving this man. Jesus reminds us by forgiving the man first that forgiveness is His number one priority and the primary work He wants to do in our lives. It’s more important than being physically healed. My number one favorite aspect of this story has always been the paralytic’s friends. Not only did they team up and go out of their way to get him to Jesus, Jesus then forgives the paralytic’s sins because of the faith of his friends.
As I read this earlier in the week, a new thought came to mind: who are the paralyzed in my life?
The paralytic in this story was unable to get himself to Jesus. He needed help.
Who in my life is unable to get him or herself to Jesus?
I’m not speaking of physical limitations, but who in my life seems completely paralyzed? Frozen? Unable to move toward God on their own?
I became a Christian in January 1999. In December of that year, I entered into what would be my last lesbian relationship. I knew this wasn’t God’s best for me. I knew what the Bible said about God’s creative intent for sexuality. But I felt helpless to change. I had built much of my identity around being gay.
I felt as if a choice was being laid out before me: be a lesbian, or follow Jesus.
I couldn’t choose.
I was utterly paralyzed.
I know there were people praying for me. They brought me to Jesus when I could not bring myself.
After 3 months, my girlfriend dumped me.
There are people around you who are paralyzed. Whether paralyzed by fear, inadequacy, life-controlling issues, self-loathing, or a particularly consuming trial, there are people around us who seem unable to get to Jesus.
As I read Mark 2 with fresh eyes, I prayed for some of those people. I prayed with my husband for some of them, noticing from the story that it wasn’t just one friend who brought the paralytic to Jesus. It took the faith of four friends.
Who can you pray for today? Who is paralyzed in your life? Who can you and your friends bring to Jesus?