Think about this setting described in Mark 2 and think about the various groups of people or individuals in the room that day and what they encountered of Jesus. You know, how we see Jesus, what we think and believe about Jesus in a large way determines what we will encounter of Jesus.
This moment recorded for us in Mark’s gospel is symptomatic of the types of responses that people tend to have to Jesus. It is rare to find someone who has heard of Jesus who has no opinion regarding Him. However, it’s those opinions that shape what people encounter of Jesus. Praise God that Jesus is graciously reaches out and engages even with people who approach Him with hostility and unbelief. Jesus came to seek and save the lost, came to die for and rescue His enemies – we see such a clear example of that in this passage.
So who was there with Jesus that day?
- Seekers who are curious and drawn to Jesus but who still have questions
- Skeptics scrutinizing everything through the lens of unbelief
- Physically sick and suffering people with varying degrees of faith and hope
- Sinners stuck with the guilt and sin needing forgiveness & freedom
- Believers in Jesus delighting in Him
In one sense these groups of people are always around, when we are speaking to people about Jesus. Whether that is in our everyday lives or even in any given Church meeting. Consider quickly how each of these groups of people encountered Jesus on this day recorded for us in Mark 2;
- Seekers: The gathered crowd that day must have had many like this. They’d heard about Jesus, heard about his radical teachings, His displays of power and His love setting people free from demonic oppression and sickness. That day they witnessed first hand that Jesus was willing to stop, to be interrupted for an individual. They saw that Jesus is moved by faith (the faith of the four friends here) and that Jesus has authority to forgive sinners from their sin and to heal their physical sickness too. More than that they witnessed that Jesus was discerning, that He knew the hearts of everyone in the room and attempted to help the skeptical overcome their barriers to faith. Seekers must have felt drawn closer to Jesus this day, we know this crowd dispersed amazed in the end saying things like; “we never saw anything like this!” (vs12) May those who encounter Jesus in us, touch something of His love, His grace, His discernment, hear of His offer of forgiveness and encounter His power over sickness through us.
- Skeptics: Can you imagine this group on that day. They’d probably decided before they even came to the house what they thought! Spurring each other on in their hardening towards Jesus, these fictitious fault finders were difficult and demeaning. Such people love to group together and amplify each other’s skepticism closing their eyes and ears to the actual evidence before them misreading or reading into everything and reaching wrong conclusions. Jesus knew they were there all along, and yet graciously He didn’t bounce them at the door. Jesus didn’t even rebuke them, but conclusively and graciously He answered their gripes about His authority to forgive sin by showing that He also has authority to heal! Did they go away believing? We don’t know. However, may you, may I like Jesus was be resolute and yet gracious with such people too.
- Physically sick and suffering people: we don’t know how long the paralyzed man had suffered but we know that his suffering was so great that he either could not get himself to Jesus physically or he could not do so emotionally – having maybe lost all hope. In an instant with one command of Jesus this man’s life is transformed for the better and the sickness that defined him was banished! Jesus as King can heal anyone, at any time. His words have power to suspend and rewrite the effects of the curse of the fall in a moment. Let’s keep praying for people asking Jesus to say the word and to heal and restore people. And let us note that this is a story that would not have happened had it not been for some friends who had faith that Jesus could heal and would want to heal their mate! Let’s be such friends for Jesus loved their faith and in the end of the day they might have even been as equally happy as the man who was healed. This man’s encounter with Jesus resulted in a life-transformed!
- Sinners: we all have the same sin problem. The friends defined their brothers problem as physical, Jesus redefined it showing that in fact his greatest need was spiritual was the need to be forgiven of his sins. We easily see the physical, emotional, financial needs of people, but all people’s greatest need is to have their sins forgiven by Jesus so that they can be restored to a right relationship with God. And putting your faith in Jesus is the only way to be forgiven. What right now feels like your greatest need? What do you think Jesus would say is your greatest need right now?
- Believers: the disciples and others who had already believed in Jesus must have grown in their faith, love and awe of in Jesus that day as they watched him authoritatively and yet graciously deal with the skeptics, respond to the friends act of faith and forgive and heal the paralyzed man! They must have felt strengthened in their faith and conviction about who Jesus was!
These groups of people are not just on the pages of Scripture but are present in our everyday lives, present in our church meetings. May we be like Jesus to them!