Sunday, 25th January 2009 @ St Michael’s at Morice Town School
I think many of us must be getting quite excited about our new church that is being built. I expect most of you have the seen the progress that has been made with the building. The roof is on and they are working away inside putting in the electrics, the tongue and groove wood on the ceiling. On the outside they are rendering the building to make it waterproof, and there is also a cross on the roof at the east end to signify that it will be a place where Jesus will be praised and worshipped.
What are you most looking forward to with the new church? Being a new building, like moving into a new home, it is an opportunity to start afresh to put many things behind us.
Moving onto our reading today, although it would be relevant for us at any time, it seems to be even more suited to our current situation. The healing power of Jesus, his ability to restore, his authority, and his power of forgiveness. Where do we start? Let’s have a look at today’s reading. In Mark chapter 1 a lot is condensed in 1 chapter, the baptism and temptation of Jesus, the calling of the first disciples, various physical healings, and driving out of evil spirits. All this had made Jesus a popular and sought after person, whether for his ability to heal or just as a spectacle to for people to sit and gawp at. In chapter 2:1 Jesus entered Capernaum again , having left it a few days before to go to nearby villages because Capernaum had become so crowded with people looking for him, it had become almost impossible to carry on his ministry, in that place, at that time. Having returned there, there were still many people about wanting to be in his presence so much so that at the house he was at, even the doorways were full with people as well as all the other available room.
As Jesus was preaching 4 men brought another man, a paralytic, to Jesus but could not get close to him as the crowds were everywhere. Not prepared to give up they knew they had to get much closer to Jesus so they decide to try to enter through the roof of the house. It might be worthwhile trying to understand how the houses at that time were constructed:
The flat roof for an ordinary house at the time would have been constructed by laying beams about three feet apart from wall to wall. Short sticks were laid closely together across the beams covered with a thick matting of thorn bushes. At other times, which is probably the case here, stone slabs or tiles of burnt clay were laid across the beam.. A coat of clay was spread on top of this and rolled hard to keep out the rain, some say grass may have been laid on top. Usually an outside staircase went up to the roof.
They would easily be able to dig out a hole large enough for the purpose without damaging the rest of the roof. Having cleared away the clay, they would have lifted the tiles to make the opening.
So the men managed to get the sick man, on his mat, close enough to Jesus after lowering him through the roof, and Jesus response was v5 “When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, ‘Son you are forgiven’.” This is a different response from Jesus compared to earlier in Mark when he seemed to be concerned with the physical healing of the person. Here Jesus is also concerned with the spiritual healing and so gave the man forgiveness.
This seemed to stir up a hornets nest with the teachers of the law that probably had a front row seat or were close to the front of the crowd when Jesus was preaching. They seemed to be waiting for any excuse to accuse Jesus, They were concerned about His growing popularity, and they were looking to find some fault with Him. So when Jesus declared he had divine authority to forgive sins their hearts probably began to race. v5 does state that Jesus was forgiving sins himself and that meant he had the divine authority At a time when the teachers should have been rejoicing over a sinner whose sins have been forgiven they immediately began to question Jesus’ statement in their hearts. They understood the implications of what Jesus had just said. He not only declared the paralytics sins to be forgiven, but He also declared that He had the same authority as God to forgive those sins.
This was a major problem in their minds. Only God could forgive sins, and for anyone other than God to claim that authority it would be blasphemy, as they stated in v7. The teachers were probably feeling quite smug at this point and may be others had not noticed although Jesus was well aware of what the teachers were up to. In v8 it mentions that Jesus knew in his spirit that this is what they were thinking in their hearts. He spoke out saying ‘Why are you thinking these things?’ Can you imagine the tension in the room? Jesus knew what these men were thinking, and He looked them right in the eye and answered their questioning with a question of His own: “Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your bed, and walk?’” The answer to that question is that neither one is easier than the other. In fact, only God has the ability to do either one.
In v10 Jesus says “But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority to forgive sins, I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” The man got up, took his mat, and walked out in full view of them all. It is important to understand why he used the term Son of Man and why he has authority. By using the title “The Son of Man”, Jesus was claiming much more than authority to forgive. He was claiming both the right to forgive and power to heal as God himself, and the miracle seemed to prove it. The phrase “Son of Man” is never used by any other person in the Gospels, nor by anyone else except Jesus Christ, of himself. The term “Son of Man” was a title not of honour but humiliation and condescension that Jesus chose to use to explain how he literally emptied himself taking the form of a servant in coming to earth in human form.
But Jesus didn’t dream it up himself. The title comes from a Messianic Prophecy in Daniel 7:13-14 and some of his hearers would have understood immediately what Jesus was claiming by using it of himself. Let me read it to you. Daniel says, “In my vision at night I looked and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into His presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshipped him. His dominion is an everlasting kingdom that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.”
So we have heard about Jesus power of healing, his power of physical and spiritual healing, his power of forgiveness and his divine authority. Some may say his power to restore, where the spirit is broken or fragmented, or the body is weak physically or spiritually.
Can we relate this to our situation today?
Perhaps we can as we meet many people that are in need of physical and spiritual healing. Also for all of us here, including myself, it may be time to ask Jesus to come into our lives and to ask him to forgive and heal situations and misunderstandings in our own fellowship, and to bow to his supreme authority.
Is this easy to do? No it is not, but with prayer, fellowship, talking to each other, a willingness in our heart and the faith we have in Jesus then it is all possible.
So as we approach a new time within our fellowship with a new building to meet and worship in in a few months time let us all start today and undergo the healing and forgiveness and the restoration of inner peace that only our Lord Jesus Christ can grant us.
Show us your way. As we seek forgiveness and healing at anytime in our lives help us to realise there is nothing or no one greater than you.
In the name of Jesus, AMEN