Second Sunday of Great Lent Gospel: Mark 2:1-12
And when he returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. And many were gathered together, so that there was no longer room for them, not even about the door; and he was preaching the word to them. And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. 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 pallet on which the paralytic lay. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “My son, your sins are forgiven.” Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, “Why does this man speak thus? It is blasphemy! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” And immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to them, “Why do you question thus in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your pallet and walk’? But 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, rise, take up your pallet and go home.” And he rose, and immediately took up the pallet and went out before them all; so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!”
Sermon Notes for 2/28/2010:
1) The story reminds me also of the healing of the blind man in John 9. There is a concern about about sin and its relationship to sickness and healing, but the healing does lead to the glory of God. Additionally there is totally disbelief on part of the religious authorities who challenge Jesus’ ability to heal even though they witness the fact.
As he walked along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him. (John 9:1-3)
The man answered, “Here is an astonishing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners, but he does listen to one who worships him and obeys his will. Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” (John 9:30-33)
2) The illness leads to the glory of God and the destruction of sins.
For ourselves – how can we turn our own illnesses, sorrows and sufferings so that they too come to be to the glory of God and the destruction of sins? We can do it by bringing them to God, seeking restoration to and reconciliation with God as well as forgiveness and healing through our own repentance.
3) We can ask ourselves as we sit in church today, why have we come to Christ today? Why do we come to church at all? Why are we here?
In the Gospel lesson, there is a huge group of people crowding around Christ. Why are they there? To be taught, to be forgiven, to be healed? Apparently not. This one group of 4 men carrying their paralyzed friend have come with a specific purpose in mind. They could have stayed at home and heard from their friends what Jesus said. But they want to be in the presence of Christ – they want Christ to notice their friend and do something for him. They come to Christ so that their friend might be healed. MIRACULOUSLY he receives the forgiveness of his sins.
The religious leaders were not looking for the forgiveness of their sins – not for themselves, nor for the people they were leading. They are astounded and angry when Christ pronounces the forgiveness of sins. So why were they there? Very reminiscent of Ezekiel 34:1-16:
The word of the LORD came to me: Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel: prophesy, and say to them—to the shepherds: Thus says the Lord GOD: Ah, you shepherds of Israel who have been feeding yourselves! Should not shepherds feed the sheep? … You have not strengthened the weak, you have not healed the sick, you have not bound up the injured, you have not brought back the strayed, you have not sought the lost, but with force and harshness you have ruled them. … For thus says the Lord GOD: I myself will search for my sheep, and will seek them out. … I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I will make them lie down, says the Lord GOD. I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the crippled, and I will strengthen the weak…”
Do we come to feed ourselves and to be fed like the religious leaders of old? Do we come bearing the burden of the sorrows and sicknesses of others, of the people we love, to bring them to Christ, so that they might be healed and forgiven? Do we come so that we might be healed, strengthened and forgiven by God so that we can in turn take the Light of Christ to the world, to be the shepherds God wanted His people to be to the world?
Why come to the Physician and Healer of Souls and go away unforgiven, and unhealed? Come to Christ to be healed and forgiven. Come to Christ and received His miraculous gifts so that you can bear witness to the world about the love of God.