Bible Reading Blog — January 11, 2016

11 Jan

Today’s Readings — Genesis 33-36 & Mark 2:1-12

One of my favorite stories in the gospel of Mark is the healing of the paralytic in chapter 2, verses 1-12. Of course, the imagery is so vivid. You can imagine the crowds and the persistence of the four friends and their digging through the roof and lowering the man down on the mat. I imagine seeing the chunks of roof fall to the ground and light opening up and the startled expressions of those gathered to hear Jesus. I imagine the  shocked expressions on the faces of the religious leaders when Jesus says to the paralytic, “Your sins are forgiven.” I imagine the amazement of all when the paralytic rises and walks.

The Sunday School teaching that arises from this story is that we should help our friends. Of course, it is good to help our friends but this is not the center of the story. The story hinges on Jesus’ pronouncement of forgiveness of sins to the paralytic. This is followed by the proof of His power through the healing of the paralytic. Jesus is establishing His authority to the religious leaders. He has already been received as having special authority in His teaching and healing by the crowds (see chapter 1) but now He is demonstrating this authority to the religious leaders. Of course, Jesus has a dual purpose in revealing His authority to them. Jesus’ demonstration of His authority is both an offer of mercy and an open door to conflict. There is mercy even for those religious leaders who, upon seeing Jesus’ authority, turn from their sin and are saved. On the other hand, Jesus knows many of the religious leaders will reject His authority and see it as a threat to their own authority. Thus, Jesus’ actions here in chapter 2 of forgiving sin and displaying His authority are the key actions which lead to His crucifixion.

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