When Jesus returned to Capernaum after some days, it became known that he was at home. Many gathered together so that there was no longer room for them, not even around the door, and he preached the word to them. They came bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. Unable to get near Jesus because of the crowd, they opened up the roof above him. After they had broken through, they let down the mat on which the paralytic was lying. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to him, “Child, your sins are forgiven.” Now some of the scribes were sitting there asking themselves, “Why does this man speak that way? He is blaspheming. Who but God alone can forgive sins?” Jesus immediately knew in his mind what they were thinking to themselves, so he said, “Why are you thinking such things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, pick up your mat and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority to forgive sins on earth” –he said to the paralytic, “I say to you, rise, pick up your mat, and go home.” He rose, picked up his mat at once, and went away in the sight of everyone. They were all astounded and glorified God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this .( Mark 2:1-12)
The four friends in the Gospel were successful in bringing their friend to Jesus because they saw the obstacle of the crowds, a small house, and the sheer impossibility of bringing their friend to Jesus. So, they climb up to the roof and begin to dig through the dirt and the hardened mud and the palm leaves. They do the hard work of digging through the roof in order to get to Jesus. They clear out a passage that they then can use to lower their paralyzed friend down into the house where Jesus will see him and reach out to him and heal him.
They saw the obstacle and overcame it. One of the primary reasons we sometimes fail to have a truthful relationship with Christ is that we don’t SEE the obstacle. We do the right things, use the right words, go to Church and we move through life. But there is this void. It’s not quite spiritual deadness but we don’t feel the vibrancy of our faith.
We need to start with the truth. We need to recognize that there is an obstacle in our way. Because when we start with that and reflect on that, we realize that the obstacle is that we have not given in to God. We haven’t given in by recognizing that we keep coming back to self and ego. We keep hanging on to “me” and will not yield to the fact that the “we” we need is God and me. But the primacy of God in our lives is what should be central.
We are pretty good at hiding. Just like the Scribes in today’s Gospel. They had a serious obstacle as well. An obstacle which separated them from God — their own arrogance, their own certainty of their rightness, their holiness, their purity. It’s another obstacle which many in our society struggle with as well: the arrogant certainty of their rightness, their own sense of personal holiness and purity. A smug attitude that that they and only they have the right position, Yet that perspective separates them from others and puts a large moat between them and God. We have to stop and ask ourselves whether we are seeing the world with blinders on – blinders that we create and not in unison with God.
But THE biggest obstacle that gets in the way of a faith filled relationship with God is our desire to be like others rather than like God. It is one of the great tricks of the evil one. We fall for it over and again. Jesus stressed we first need to give to God. We need to obey him above men. We need to desire that his kingdom come and his will be done. When we fail to do that, that’s when, to some degree, all Hell breaks loose (hmm, based on events, it makes you wonder).
Perhaps its time to raise the white flag and surrender your life in faith, and say, “Lord I’m giving you everything, I’m giving up the war against you, and I’m going to put my life in your hands and live under your authority from now on.” If you’ve never done that, I hope that you do. I hope that you’ll do it today.
Prayer of The Day
“Lord Jesus, through your merciful love and forgiveness you bring healing and restoration to body, soul, and mind. May your healing power and love touch every area of my life – my innermost thoughts, feelings, attitudes, and memories. Pardon my offenses and transform me in the power of your Holy Spirit that I may walk confidently in your love, truth, and righteousness.”
What kinds of hard work do we need to do in order to get to Jesus? In what ways are we paralyzed in our lives, in what ways are we confronted by seemingly insurmountable obstacles that divide us from our loved ones, from others and from God? This is the question posed by this text. Before we can fully respond to God’s call and freely follow Jesus, before we can be free in our relationships with others we need forgiveness and healing. Gifts that God, through Jesus is prepared and waiting to provide for us. But first, perhaps, we have some dirt to dig through!