For the next 2 Growth Group weeks, we all have the opportunity to reflect on the universal mission of the Lord Jesus Christ. That’s not to say we don’t think of that every week but here we are focusing our attention on it.
The sermons for the next two weeks will be on Mark 2:1-12 and Mark 2:13-17. Why not take these texts for your group to discuss together and commit the local mission week to God.
Here are some thoughts on Mark 2:1-12
It is very early in the book of Mark and therefore very early in Jesus’ public ministry. Chapter one declares that this book will be about the good news of Jesus Christ. John announced his arrival. Jesus began his ministry with the words: The time has come…the kingdom of God has come near – repent and believe the good news! This was his message from the start! By the end of this first chapter, Jesus has moved from being unknown to being greatly followed – the beginning of a popular ministry. His fame has much to do with his ability to heal. His popularity forced him to do business in remote areas away from the population.
Only a few days in the remote areas was spent before he returned to Capernaum – a populated area.
Notice how ‘he had come home.’ Jesus was from Nazareth, not Capernaum. It is probable, as many commentators suggest, that this was the home of Peter where they stayed as a ministry team. Either way, it seems that the following account happens in the place where Jesus was staying.
More important than the fact that many people made their way into the house is what they came for – Jesus preached the word to them.
‘The word’ is something like – the message. We often use it as short-hand for ‘the bible’ but this is not as helpful as using it to refer to the message of the bible. When we say that God’s word never fails – we claim that the message of God stands firm – not that every ink on the page is sacred but that the word of God, the revelation of God to mankind conveys the message of truth, hope and salvation – and that stands forever. From Genesis to Revelation, the message of God has been that he is the king who loves us. We run rapidly toward destruction because we are bent on rebelling against God. God himself is the only port for salvation – not sword, or wealth, or good habit – but God.
Jesus’ ministry was a word-based ministry. He was definitely a healer, but he didn’t come to heal – but to preach the word: repent and believe.
What was the faith that Jesus saw? Wasn’t it the actions of the men bringing their friend to Jesus? The faith that God praised Abraham for was the extreme trust that Abraham had toward God in being willing to return his only son back to God (Gen 22). It’s one thing to imagine the four men sitting around their paralysed friend and thinking: ‘I bet Jesus could do something for us – wouldn’t that be great.’ It’s quite another to see the men lift their friend, take him across town, attempt the front door but then remain determined to get him to Jesus no matter how hard it seems. Jesus saw their faith.
Based on what Jesus saw, he forgave their sins. This is not to be misunderstood as works. Often, faith that can be seen can be mislabelled as works but it is just visible trust. The criminal who died by Jesus’ side on the cross put his trust in Jesus and was pardoned of his sins without asking for it. He didn’t say sorry, he simply confessed Jesus as Lord – Jesus welcomed that.
Jesus displays his divinity in a couple of ways in this passage. Firstly, he declares himself qualified to forgive sins. The bad guys in the passage hear exactly what Jesus is inferring. Secondly, he knew what the Pharisees were thinking! It would be silly for him to suggest he knew what they were thinking and then tell them what it was unless he knew that he was right! Thirdly, he heals this paralysed man by simply speaking to him! Far out! And he did all of that without even leaving the living room!
The hardest miracle to see in this passage is the one miracle that we need the most – the forgiveness of sins. Entrance to the kingdom of God requires it. Jesus can easily give it. All that is required on our part is faith.
The power of God is not in Jesus’ miracles but in his words. Not, “you are healed,” but “you are forgiven.”
- What is the word of God that we preach or speak about? Is it the simple message of forgiveness of sins because the kingdom is near?
- How far will we go to bring people to Jesus? Only as far as it is convenient?
- Similarly, how important to we see that Jesus is for our friends and family?
- Pray for your contacts and ask God to help you to bring them to Jesus – to listen to the Word of God.
Prayer for the week:
Almighty God, help us to help our neighbour by bringing the word of Jesus to them. Help us all to pay attention to the powerful message of the gospel and to praise your name for the gift of forgiveness. Amen.