“Why do you raise such questions in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Stand up and take your mat and walk’? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the paralytic— “I say to you, stand up, take your mat and go to your home.” And he stood up, and immediately took the mat and went out before all of them; so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!” Mark 2:8-12
Why were they so amazed? People get up and walk all the time.
Many years ago I was told by someone, “You don’t reward someone for doing what they are supposed to do.” When I heard this, I was at first taken aback, but then I somewhat bought into the idea. Recently this perspective has been brought to my attention again, and I realize how much my viewpoint has matured. I now know, there is no love, dignity, honor, or faith, in that statement.
We are not all equally capable of everything. We are each made up of strengths and weaknesses. Sometimes our weaknesses get the best of us, and we become convinced that that is all we are. Jesus, in this story of healing, first addressed the inner-weakness in the person brought to him by saying “Your sins are forgiven.” All the things that make you feel less than worthy, all the things you have done that make you feel ashamed, all the things you are that you are not proud of. They are gone, now get up and walk.
Letting go of our “sins” is difficult if not impossible on our own. We often need a formal release from the guilt or punishment we inflict on ourselves or others. We are not given an explanation of what this man’s sins were. Jesus does not list them and then check them off. He incontrovertibly says “the past is the past now go forward.” What a gift to have such release!
Then some people came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. And when they could not bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him; and after having dug through it, they let down the mat on which the paralytic lay. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” Mark 2:3-5
For a person who is mentally paralyzed by sin, shame, depression or fear, healing is complicated. The person who needs healing must let down all the preconceived notions of self-sufficiency and allow others to lead them to the place where healing can begin. This act in weakness is also a moment of considerable strength. It is a moment of humility for the individual, and yet it takes courage to acknowledge the need for help and to receive it. Those with the strength to help must treat this person and this moment with love, dignity, honor, and faith. The barriers of judgment and pride must be removed, and openness to love and healing must take its place. In this story, Jesus saw not only the faith of the man but also the faith of his companions. A moment of unity in the desire to encounter Christ produced a perfect reward for everyone.
“they were all amazed and glorified God”
When was the last time you were amazed?
Take a moment today to celebrate the simple acts of others. It might be more difficult for them than you know.