Tuesday 12th January
St Mark 2: 1 – 12
When he returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. So many gathered around that there was no longer room for them, not even in front of the door; and he was speaking the word to them. Then some people came, bringing to him a paralysed man, carried by four of them. And when they could not bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him; and after having dug through it, they let down the mat on which the paralytic lay. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven.’ Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, ‘Why does this fellow speak in this way? It is blasphemy! Who can forgive sins but God alone?’ At once Jesus perceived in his spirit that they were discussing these questions among themselves; and he said to them, ‘Why do you raise such questions in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, “Your sins are forgiven”, or to say, “Stand up and take your mat and walk”? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins’—he said to the paralytic— ‘I say to you, stand up, take your mat and go to your home.’ And he stood up, and immediately took the mat and went out before all of them; so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, ‘We have never seen anything like this!’
When I was a child I always thought it was easier to say “your sins are forgiven” because no one could see. If you said “Stand up and walk” and the person didn’t – how embarrassing! Since then, knowing as we do that much is in the mind I find the next questions don’t go away quite as easily: what did those at the back of the crowd think was happening and what did the occupier think of having the roof destroyed?
Assuming those at the back could hear, but without seeing what had happened, they would have heard a debate about authority. Imagine the whispers running round: “what did he say? No! That’s blasphemy” – only in a loose sense – but who will stand on the letter of the law when things get heated in a debate with no negotiation?
Mark ends this account saying everyone was amazed, and therein lies the problem. Some would be amazed and full of wonder, eager to tell the story. Others would be amazed and horrified, but rather than reflect and begin to understand, try to solve the problem of Jesus’ claim to authority by destroying what is not understood.
We have seen this problem time and again in the last months of 2020: what to do about the second wave of Covid19; the apparently intractable Brexit negotiations; fake news; state sponsored cyber attacks and disputed elections? Answer: attack the person not the problem. I do get frustrated with the WWJD, (What would Jesus do) question. Did he set to work repairing the roof of the house? A good means to clear the mind while working. Go for a walk along the shore. A good way to find a different perspective. Whatever happened, as we read on, we discover that Jesus found a way to balance the discord over forgiving of sins with human and godly conversation, while some of the scribes built an internal edifice of anger that could only be resolved with retribution.
Lord, when I am faced with opposing views help me to find balance and a way to understand. Then, when I have understood, help me to decide on the value, for right or wrong, of this new viewpoint.