December 04, 2006

gospel according to mark 2:1-13

Faith at Capernaum



2:1-5 When he re-entered Capernaum some days later, a rumour spread that he was in somebody's house. Such a large crowd collected that while he was giving them his message it was impossible even to get near the doorway. Meanwhile, a group of people arrived to see him, bringing with them a paralytic whom four of them were carrying. And when they found it was impossible to get near him because of the crowd, they removed the tiles from the roof over Jesus' head and let down the paralytic's bed through the opening. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the man on the bed, "My son, your sins are forgiven."

2:6-7 But some of the scribes were sitting there silently asking themselves, "Why does this man talk such blasphemy? Who can possibly forgive sins but God?"

2:8-11 Jesus realised instantly what they were thinking, and said to them, "why must you argue like this in your minds? Which do you suppose is easier - to say to a paralysed man, 'Your sins are forgiven', or 'Get up, pick up your bed and walk'? But to prove to you that the Son of Man has full authority to forgive sins on earth, I say to you," - and here he spoke to the paralytic - "Get up, pick up your bed and go home."

2:12 At once the man sprang to his feet, picked up his bed and walked off in full view of them all. Everyone was amazed, praised God, and said, "We have never seen anything like this before."

2:13 Then Jesus went out again by the lake-side and the whole crowd came to him, and he continued to teach them.

3 Comments:

At 3:09 PM, Blogger forrest said...

There's a good analysis of this (etc!) in William Herzog's _Jesus, Justice, and the Reign of God_.

For one thing, Jesus is not "forgiving sins" here. "Your sins are forgiven" is a pious Jewish way of saying, "God has forgiven your sins." Such a statement may be subject to debate, but it is not "blasphemy."

What is arousing the ire of these scribes is that Jesus is breaking the priestly monopoly on sin, practicing salvation without a license.

We tend to read this as "to prove that 'The Son of Man' has authority," but we've already established: "Capitalization was not in use at when this was written." A reading I prefer: "To prove that a son of Adam (a human being) can have such authority..."

We've already brought up the question: "Why can't we do this kind of healing?" I wouldn't rule it out on principle; I just haven't gotten to a state where I could. And what exactly would it mean to heal "in the name of" Jesus? Is this at all analogous to a policement demanding obedience "in the name of the law"? Should we be praying for such authority? Do we want it, ie Yes, we would objectively like to have more people cured of their physical suffering--but isn't this something God might do equally well without us? So far as it hasn't happened yet, why not? If there's a deeper cause for this suffering, what might we best do about that?

 
At 4:15 PM, Blogger Larry said...

Sins and illness go together in this story, as they do in ordinary life. Speaking theologically all illness is related to sin, if not your own, very likely someone elses. (We are members one of another.)

People smoke, and get lung cancer, more commonly glut, and have all the added physical illnesses of obesity; fornicate, and get aids (and numerous other diseases). I've left out my present sins, but there are plenty of them, and I'm sick.

All sin is if nothing else a spiritual sickness.

Perhaps it's easier to forgive sins than to heal physical illness.
Jesus (and God) specifically meant that gift for us, and it's an act of faith to carry it out in any way possible.

 
At 3:40 AM, Blogger crystal said...

I read a sermon about this reading recently and it brought up the idea that though we think it's easier to forgive than to heal, perhaps this really isn't so. I don't think we can heal like Jesus/God, but forgiveness isn't something we're good at either.

 

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