God of healing and forgiveness, I want to be all that you intend for me to be and to cooperate with your Spirit in the process of being transformed into the image of your glorious Son. In the name of Jesus, AMEN.
Mark 2:1-12 (New International Version)
1A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. 2So many gathered that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them. 3Some men came, bringing to him a paralytic, carried by four of them.4Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus and, after digging through it, lowered the mat the paralyzed man was lying on.5When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”6Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, 7″Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?”8Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, “Why are you thinking these things? 9Which is easier: to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’? 10But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins . . . .” He said to the paralytic, 11″I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” 12He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!”
Today’s gospel reading has long been one of my favorite passages with its story of how some men came to Jesus bearing with them a man who is paralyzed. Upon seeing that so many people had gathered in the home where Jesus was ministering, they even noticed outside the doorway a crowd blocking their passage. They climbed up unto the roof of the place and dug a hole through the roofing material. This hole is large enough for the man on his mat to be lowered down to where Jesus sat teaching and conversing with the crowd. Jesus grants this paralyzed brother forgiveness of sins and divine healing by saying “Arise.”
It is a powerful picture with a powerful message. This story gives us an example of serving as your “brother’s/sister’s keeper.” All of us will need a helping hand at some point in life. None of us would be as blessed as we are today, “if it had not been” for the intercession of a friend. None of us would be here, “if it had not been” for the advocacy of Jesus Christ in our lives. Sometimes, we need a lift.
Like the man carried by his friends; people need a community of faith, brothers and sisters to carry them to where they need to go, and friends to believe for them when they don’t or simply can’t believe for themselves. Sometimes, we need a lift.
And that is where all of us today fit in. Healing, forgiveness, wholeness, the working of justice, and restoration needs a community in which to occur. Broken people need to find a community where people who not only know of the miracle working One, but encountered Him personally. Broken people need to find a community who in love and faith will carry those who can’t carry themselves to the One who can heal, to the One who can forgive, to the One who speaks the truth, to the One who can bring justice and restore that which has been lost. Sometimes, we need a lift.
Healing, forgiveness, justice, and restoration needs friends, a family, brothers and sisters, people who will not give up, just as the four who brought the paralytic to Jesus did not give up but instead removed the roof of the house so that one in need might meet Jesus the healer. Through the power of Holy Spirit, we can serve as that community. We can be God’s instrument in someone’s life. We can be the one who speaks life and healing to broken and bruised people. We can be God’s ministers of reconciliation to show love and compassion and lift up those who are downtrodden. Just as the paralyzed man, got a lift from some friends, go out into your community and do the same. Go lift a brother! Go lift a sister!
Prayer: God of healing and forgiveness, I want to be all that you intend for me to be and to cooperate with your Spirit in the process of being transformed into the image of your glorious Son. In the name of Jesus, AMEN
The Reverend Fedrick A. Wilson, Pastor, Cedar Grove AME Church, Cope (Orangeburg County), SC