Gracious Lord, You are a God of justice and mercy. May Your Word enlarge my understanding of what this means.
Read Mark 2:1-12
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
God cannot be contained in a box. Sometimes our imperfect expectations limit what God will accomplish in any and all situations.
Today’s passage is the start of a separate section in Mark’s Gospel (2:1–3:6), describing five incidents where Jesus comes into conflict with the religious leadership. Those who would have been expected to recognize and welcome him were rapidly moving into direct opposition. Their motives for this are unclear. It seems to be a combination of jealousy and feeling threatened by his popularity, deep concern about what they saw as his blasphemous claims, and prejudice about his background (7, “this fellow”). Wherever Jesus went, he evoked strong responses from people, either for or against him. As Mark’s account progresses, we see how, while doing good in God’s name, Jesus increasingly met criticism, resentment, or outright opposition from those who should have known better.
Jesus’ words would have sounded outrageous to the Pharisees, or at least would have been profoundly bewildering. For them, this situation had deep theological roots. No one but God can forgive sins, yet this person from an insignificant background had proclaimed forgiveness of sins over a paralyzed man. His authority to do this is then seemingly authenticated by the man being healed. In addition, Jesus’ reference to himself with the Messianic title of “Son of Man” (Dan. 7:13; Matt. 26:64; Mark 14:61-64) would have made matters much worse in their eyes. There was no middle way or third option: either he was God, or he was a blasphemer. Part of their problem was their view of God. They had him neatly boxed in to a set of rigid expectations concerning how the Messiah would come and what he would do. Their view was incomplete and their minds largely closed, with God reduced to the size of their expectations. Anything that threatened those views and their status as guardians of them was to be resisted at all costs. Sound familiar?
Pray for leaders of churches and Christian organizations for faith to risk trusting God to be–and do more–than they expect. Pray for yourself, too.
Heavenly Father, You still have the power today to heal and forgive. May I be a channel of Your grace, touching others with healing and the promise of forgiveness.
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