Prepare Our Hearts – August 24

A Devotional from Central Presbyterian Church.Find another day here.

Monday, August 24, 2020
Mark 2:1-12

And when he returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. 2 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. 3 And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. 4 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. 5 And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” 6 Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, 7 “Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” 8 And immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to them, “Why do you question these things in your hearts? 9 Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk’? 10 But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the paralytic— 11 “I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.” 12 And he rose and immediately picked up his bed and went out before them all, so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!”

Recently our van was making some strange noises when the air conditioner was on so, believing we were due for a fairly expensive repair, we headed to the auto shop. The mechanic heard the same thing we did and thought that the problem would likely be corrected if the compressor was replaced but he wasn’t 100% sure, so before he swapped it out, he asked us to take it to another shop that specialized in air conditioner repairs for a second opinion. Within minutes of pulling in to the second shop, the technician emphatically stated the compressor was fine and was able to duplicate the same noise when the air was turned off. Instead of a bad compressor, the van had a bearing which was going bad and when the air conditioner was turned on it put additional strain on the bearing making the audible noise. Armed with this new information, we headed back to the mechanic, who gladly made the necessary repairs and in the process saved us whole lot of money than if we had acted upon our initial diagnosis.

After completing the initial Galilean teaching/preaching/healing circuit, Jesus returned home to Capernaum. Even at home—either at Jesus’ house or possibly the home of one of the disciples—everyone continued to gather en mass to listen to the preaching of the Word of God and perhaps even catch a glimpse of something amazing. The people packed in tighter than sardines so that when a paralytic man arrived, being carried by his friends, it was impossible for him to even see Jesus let alone get near. Undeterred, the friends carried the paralytic up onto the roof of the house and and began demolition. When the opening was ready, they carefully lowered their friend on his bed so that he now lay directly in front of Jesus. Amazingly, no one was upset that the house had a new sunroof, instead they leaned in to see what would happen next. Jesus had just spent the previous days casting out demons and healing the sick, but what He said now was more shocking than anything He had done before. Perceiving the faith this man and his friends had in Him, Jesus scandalously said, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”

No one would have been offended or surprised to hear the paralytic man denounced as a sinner; the mere fact that he was unable to walk was confirmation to all in the audience that someone had sinned, either the man himself or a close family member. The alarming thing was that Jesus had the audacity to pronounce him forgiven, because everyone knew, as the scribes thought to themselves, that only God was able to forgive sins. Even then, divine forgiveness was only possible through the intermediary work of a consecrated priest and an atoning blood sacrifice. The man had been hoping for an act of mercy from Jesus, but he could never have imagined it would come like this.

Consider for just a moment that if the scribes hadn’t questioned Jesus’ authority to forgive the man’s sin that the healing may have stopped right there. The show could have ended at forgiveness and the man could have been carried back from whence he came, but of course that is not what happened. Just as Jesus instantly perceived the faith of the paralytic’s entourage, He just as quickly saw the outrage and skepticism of His now-seething opponents. “Heresy” and “blasphemy” weren’t words that were used lightly and, if proven to be true, they carried drastic and even fatal consequences. So as an irrefutable demonstration of His unique and divine authority to forgive sins, without even lifting a finger, Jesus spoke and the man immediately got off the ground, picked up his bed, and walked out of the house. The onlookers gasps turned from alarm into amazement and they all glorified God for the wondrous thing He had done.

The paralyzed man and his friends knew that there was something wrong with him, but unlike our high-mileage minivan, the problem was deeper than they could have ever imagined. Author and pastor Timothy Keller describes this idea in his life-changing book The Meaning of Marriage when he writes,”The gospel is this: We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope.” The paralytic’s true problem wasn’t in his legs, it was in his heart. More than needing the ability to walk, he needed the forgiveness that only Jesus could offer. When we examine our lives, we usually look at things the same way that these people did. We know that we need Jesus, but we often don’t realize, or just plain forget, just how much we do. Jesus can make our lives better and there is nothing He can’t do, aside from sin, and while He can help us on our math test or find a new job or walk us through an unlimited number of circumstances and trials, more than anything else He offers love and forgiveness. As we grow in our intimacy with Jesus, we too can marvel at the incredible work of grace that He has purchased by His blood. We too will be amazed and say “We never saw anything like this, come and see what the Lord has done for us!”

Prayer for Today:
Lord Jesus, we thank You that You see beyond our presenting symptoms and into our desperate souls. Although we could never earn or deserve it, You offer forgiveness of our sins and new life in Your name. Thank You for the incredible gift of Yourself, may we bring You glory and praise now and forevermore. Amen.