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Who Do You Say I Am?
The Gospel of Mark

The Invasion Continues

 Throughout this year, we are answering the question Jesus, himself, asked… “Who do you say I am?”  We are exploring the Gospel of Mark looking for answers to who Jesus is.  So far, in chapter one, here is the answer we have found…  Jesus is leading an invasion.

John prepared the way for the invasion.  Jesus committed to his invasion vocation in his baptism.  Jesus began to recruit an army.  The battle began against… evil, brokenness, oppression.  Jesus was angry at the condition of his world.  This moved Jesus; this anger sent Jesus to preach the good news of restoration.  “I’ve come to restore my world!”  That is good news. 

That is all in chapter one.  Mark jumps right into answering the question, “Who do you say I am?”  by teaching us that Jesus is the one who is leading an invasion to restore his creation. 

Now, we get to go to chapter two.  I know some of you are concerned that I may not be able to finish Mark in 2017.  Perhaps, we need to pick up the pace.  But not today.

Mark Chapter 2 is interesting.

--John, in his Gospel, begins at the beginning.  John tells us that Jesus is the Word.  Jesus is God.  Jesus is One with the Father.  God/Jesus, the Word became flesh.

--Matthew tells us in his Gospel that Jesus is Emanuel… God with Us in his chapter one.

--Luke tells us that Jesus is conceived by the Holy Spirit… Jesus is the Son of God!  In his chapter one.

The other three gospels all tell us of Jesus being God in first chapter of their gospels.

But Mark does not tell us about Jesus being God until chapter 2.  “Who do you say I am?”  Mark waits until chapter 2 to tell us of about Jesus’s God connection.

Let’s see how Mark tells us that Jesus is God… chapter 2.

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Remember, Mark uses movement to show change of subjects.  Watch the subject change in chapter 2.

Mark 2:1-2 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 more room, not even at the door. And he was preaching the word to them.

 Capernaum is Jesus’s home.  I suspect this is Andrew and Simon’s house.  Simon and Andrew were successful fishermen.  They had a nice house.  So, Jesus is there doing what he came to do… preaching the word! 

Mark does not elaborate on what Jesus is preaching, but if we cheat and sneak over to Matthew we can hear Jesus preaching about what his coming kingdom is supposed to be…

Matthew 5:3-14 "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.  Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.  Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.  Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.  Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.  Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.”

It would have been wonderful to sit at the feet of Jesus.  I would give my… second born child to listen to him tell us how the restoration invasion is to be. 

--His kingdom is about…humility, and compassion and the power of weakness. 

--This kingdom of heaven invading the earth is about hungering for the right stuff and cutting others some slack and committing to the invasion vocation. 

--Signing up for the invasion is about being willing to join Jesus in suffering.  Using the suffering of the cross to change the world. 

Wow, how amazing it must have been for the former fishers of fish to learn how the invasion is changing the world.

Into that amazing setting… Into the preaching of the Kingdom… there is an interruption.

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Mark 2:3-4 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 bed on which the paralytic lay.

Mark doesn’t tell us who the “they” are.  Evidently, the “they” are four friends of a paralyzed guy.  So, “they” get to where Jesus is and “they” can’t get anywhere near him.  But “they” are committed to getting their buddy to Jesus.  People are standing all around the door, listening to the preaching of the kingdom.  One of the buddies has an idea.  “Go get some rope.  Get a stretcher.  Let’s tie the rope to the corners of the stretcher.  Let’s get him up on the roof.” 

So, they climb up the stairs to the roof.  They remove the mud tiles and completely disrupt the entire thing that’s going on below them.  Boom, right down into the middle of the room…  boom, right in front of Jesus… boom, they carefully lower their buddy down into the packed house.  Boom, the paralyzed guy is on his back looking up at Jesus.

--Simon is going, “Hey, who is going to fix my roof?”

--Those who were intently listening are going, “Wait, we want to hear the end of the sermon.”

--The other sick folk outside the house are going, “Hey, we were here first.  Get to the back of the line.”

--Simon’s mother-in-law is going, “How am I ever going to fix supper with all these people in the way?”

--“They” are doing fist pumps.  “They” got their buddy to Jesus. 

--I suspect Jesus is… smiling!

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Mark 2:5 And when Jesus saw their faith,

When Jesus saw the four guys’ faith… When Jesus saw their persistence… their daring... their creativity…  Jesus says… the completely unexpected to the paralytic…

Mark 2:5 "My son, your sins are forgiven."

What?  "My son, your sins are forgiven."

--The four buddies look at each other… we didn’t go to all the trouble to get our paralyzed his sins forgiven.  We want him to walk again so we don’t have to carry him around everywhere.  The guy’s heavy. 

“Sins forgiven.  What?”  Andrew is thinking, “This is the first time he has mentioned sins.  He didn’t even say anything about sins when he cast out the unclean spirit.”

The paralyzed guy is thinking… “What sin?  What did I do?” 

But nobody said anything to Jesus.  There had to have been one of those awkward silences.  “My son, your sins are forgiven.” Crickets…

“Your sins are forgiven.  How can Jesus say that to this guy he has never met before?  "If I do something against you; if I sin against you, only you can forgive me.  Some random third person can’t step up to you and say I forgive Tim’s sin against you.  Forgiveness doesn’t work like that.  Only the offended person can forgive the offendee.  So, for Jesus to say to this paralyzed guy your sins are forgiven doesn’t make any sense. 

The paralyzed guy is trying to process this… “So, the time I cussed my buddies for dropping me, you are forgiving me on their behalf?” 

There was silence because no one understood what Jesus had said.  Crickets…

No one said anything, but the scribes were thinking pretty loud…

Mark 2:6-7 Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, "Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?"

Wait a second, these scribes are right. Now, we get to the point of this pericope.  Mark is telling us who Jesus is. 

All sin is sin against God.  So, Jesus can forgive sins because Jesus is God.  The scribes are right. Jesus is either God or Jesus is blaspheming.   Because, forgiving sins is a God thing!

Jesus then proves his point. 

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Mark 2:8-9 And immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to the scribes, "Why do you question these things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Rise, take up your bed and walk'? 

There is an old saying, “The proof is in the pudding.”  I don’t know what that means.  But it seems the proof is in the paralytic.  Jesus asks the scribes… “Which is easier?”  It is pretty easy to say your sins are forgiven… I can say that.  It is kind of hard to tell if it worked.  But if I say… rise and walk to a paralyzed guy… there is visual evidence of whether that worked or not. 

I don’t think the scribes answered the question.  Maybe the question was rhetorical anyway.   

Any there is another awkward silence; more crickets…

Mark 2:10-11 But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins"- Jesus said to the paralytic- "I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home."

So, that you will know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins…  The you may be YOU!  This may be an editorial footnote. Mark wants you to get it.  Footnotes were not invented yet. Mark wants us to know that the Son of Man has the authority, the power, the reality, the presence of God on earth… because he is God!

There is another awkward silence while everyone waited to see what the paralytic would do; more crickets…

Mark 2:12 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!"

--The crowd in the house must have burst out in cheering… “Praise God!  We never saw anything like this!" 

--The four guys still looking down from the hole in the roof, give each other high fives… “We don’t have to lug him around anymore!” 

--The guy, formally known as paralyzed, jumps up and does a little jig before them all.

--The scribes harden their hearts.  “This is not over… not by a long shot.”

--Jesus is revealed as the Son of Man who forgives sins on earth!

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“Who do you say that I am?”  In chapter 2, Mark tells us… Jesus is the forgiving God! 

This story is a tiny version of the entire gospel.

--First, Jesus is preaching the Gospel.  Everyone is listening to the sermon. 

--Then, there is a healing.

--Jesus is then condemned for blasphemy.

--Jesus is vindicated by the miracle.

--The paralyzed man’s healing points forward to the new life we all will share on the restored earth!

The Invasion continues with the revelation of the divinity of Jesus! 

If I were making a poster of this story, perhaps it would look like this…

--There are always obstacles between us and who we were intended to be. 

--We need to help each other overcome the obstacles to reach forgiveness.

--Don’t stay on the edge of the crowd. Dig through the roof to find forgiveness.

--Dance a jig for Jesus.

--The Son of Man has authority to forgive sins! 

 

Tim Stidham

March 5, 2016

Los Alamos Church of Christ

 



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