By now the “secret” has spread so much that at Jesus’ next stop there’s a standing room only crowd. Jesus doesn’t take it all in for himself, though. Instead he preaches the logos to them. That’s a loaded term. Even in that day, the term was loaded with connections to Hebrew Scripture and Greek philosophy, but that’s not what grabs the Gospel writer’s attention. It’s the side story that does. Four men, who love their own friend so much, they dig up the roof to set him before Jesus.
“Seeing their faith”
The Gospel says that Jesus “seeing their faith” forgives the sins of the paralyzed man. Can you pray someone into the kingdom? Or does Christ declare a reality that has already happened outside of anything these people have done? Is the declaration of forgiveness, instead, Jesus making plain the hope for which he came, the reality he had already, and would later, secure by his incarnation? Is it possible that Jesus looks upon the faith of the four friends, and decides to peel back the secret just a bit, for the sake of all five of them? “Your sins are forgiven” he declares.
“In full view of them all”
At this point, and still in response to the faith of the friends, Jesus wants to make his person clear. There is no mention of a secret this time. Jesus heals the man, and the evidence is plain to everyone. The man gets up, in public, and is obviously healed. This healing acts as evidence of the already present truth that Jesus has come to forgive sins.
2 thoughts on “2019 Lent Day 4: Mark 2:1-12”
I’m curious why you make the assumption that “their” only includes the four whose impressive industry gets thier friend in front of Jesus. Is the paralyzed man not an active participant merely because he is paralyzed? Is it not possible that he was in fact the instigator? And Jesus is impressed with his commitment. His willingness to do what might seem impossible for him in the name of redemption? That it’s his willingness and commitment that Jesus merely reassured him that his sins too can be forgiven. The fact that he was physically healed was for the doubters. The intended exchange between Jesus and the paralyzed man had already happened and was concluded.
I might translate this meaning to the power of requesting prayers through your community, but only as a mean of extending your own faculty beyond in its current state. You must make the internal journey on your own. It was simply the physical journey the man couldn’t make so he got his community to assist him. Community is important and prayer can be a powerful asset in our own private faith journeys.
Grammatically and rhetorically, it’s pretty unlikely that “their” (autoon) includes the paralytic. It’s definitely not just the paralytic. It would be a very awkward and unnatural rendering for it to include the paralytic, but it’s not impossible. However, the Gospel writer makes careful attempts to distinguish the actions, behaviors, and attributes of the four from the crowds and from the paralytic. So, while not impossible, it’s incredibly unlikely, and given the pains the Gospel writer takes to distinguish the four from the paralytic, you’d have to disregard quite a bit.