As we journey through the Witness of Mark, we want to encourage you to first begin with the Daily Reading that will take you through the entire book of Mark. Then, read the First 15 Scripture and Reflection to dive a little deeper into verses from the Daily Reading.
Today's daily reading is: Mark 2:1-12.
A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. They gathered in such large numbers that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them. Some men came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”
In the spring of 2009, I had the opportunity to visit Capernaum. Capernaum is located on the shores of the freshwater Sea of Galilee. It was formerly a fishing village. Now, it is a ruin where you find the remains of a synagogue and several small homes that once housed the residents of the village. There are also ruins of an ancient octagonal church building that dates back to early Christianity, as well as a modern church building that has been constructed above the ruins. Underneath the ruins of the ancient church, archaeologists found what they believe was the home of Simon Peter. This is the location where Jesus healed Peter’s mother-in-law of a fever. Many others were also brought to Jesus in this town to be delivered from their afflictions. It is a place where God was at work.
Near the conclusion of Mark 1, we are told that Jesus had retreated to the countryside to avoid the crowds. He stayed in “lonely places.” While alone or in the company of his small group of disciples, Jesus likely spent time in prayer (Luke 5:16). The masses followed Jesus everywhere. He was a magnet for human need.
But in Mark 2 we are told that Jesus again enters the small fishing village of Capernaum. Word spreads quickly, and people gather around Jesus inside a home, standing shoulder to shoulder, jammed together. He preached the word to them.
Outside, a group of men came to Jesus. They brought a friend. Being late to the party, they found Jesus inaccessible. But they were persistent. They made a way.
The ruins around Capernaum suggest staircases may have been built alongside the outer walls of the homes so roof construction could be completed, and so repairs later could be easily made. A roof was constructed with wooden beams, covered with branches, and then sealed with thick mud or plaster. Unable to get inside of the house where Jesus was, the men saw a possibility. The roof was a way to Jesus. They carried their friend to the top, dug through, and lowered him down.
Mark’s record of this interaction includes this notable statement: Jesus healed the man after seeing “their faith.” This isn’t a “one-on-one” miracle. Jesus sees the faith of the group, the friends, and tells the paralyzed man, “Your sins are forgiven.” Jesus goes beyond his physical need and addresses his deepest spiritual need. Jesus demonstrates his authority not only by healing the paralyzed man’s body, but by declaring the man is now in right relationship with God because of Jesus’ word.
Jesus’ choice of words draws the ire of his opponents. Yet Jesus persists. Jesus heals the man, and the man takes up his mat and walks out in “full view” of everyone. The people were amazed. They praised God, and they said, “We have never seen anything like this” (Mark 2:12)!
Jesus did not only heal the man because he was present, but because he saw “their faith.” Who are your friends, your fellow travelers who are following Jesus alongside you--who know where he is and will do whatever is necessary to get you to him--who will carry you when you have great need? Identify those friends. Be that kind of friend.
Be a friend who has friends who will carry you to Jesus, and do the same for others.
God, please send your Holy Spirit and increase my faith. Help me trust you, to have great faith. Strengthen me in my walk with you. Give me the wisdom, knowledge, and discernment I need to always know your will, to know what is right, and then grant me the courage to do it. Bind me to your body, the church, and help me to develop friends who will carry me to Jesus, and whom I can also serve by carrying them when they have need. In Jesus’ name, I ask. Amen.
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version ® NIV ®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2014 by Biblica, Inc.®. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.