As you read it, you can't take your eyes off of Jesus. He takes center stage. Sure, there are momentary “distractions” as the plot unfolds. The religious leaders are offended at Jesus's offer of forgiveness and charge him with blasphemy. Oh, and then there's this guy being lowered on a mat from a hole in the ceiling — that would probably qualify as a distraction, too. But none of these things distance us from the story or its Hero, instead they serve to draw us deeper into the drama and compel us to ask some questions.
At least for me, the first question that jumps off the page is this: How could an itinerant rabbi from Nazareth do and say the things that Jesus did and said if he wasn't God? I realize that not all of us are going to be able to answer that question with the precision of a pastor or theologian. In fact, some of us may still be wrestling with doubts about Jesus's divinity. We're just not sure how he could've been both God and man simultaneously. If you struggle with questions like these, here's my advice: If you want to know who Jesus is, ask Him. He's incredibly adept at providing us with the answers we need in a way that makes sense to us.
But as I read Mark's account of the paralytic's healing, there's another question that emerges, and that's this: How do we get in on this story? Because if it's true — and I certainly believe that it is — then there's a power at work in this world that isn't of human origin. There's a power at work in this world that's unleashed when it comes in contact with faith.
Luke tells us that when Jesus saw “their faith,” he immediately responded with an offer of forgiveness — “Son, your sins are forgiven.” Yes, the outpouring of mercy and grace that the paralytic experienced was triggered by the determined faith of his four friends. No question about it. But without Jesus acting on the man's behalf, there would have been no miracle.
The Healer is the Hero. Into brokenness, He brings unimaginable wholeness. Into darkness, He brings light. Into despair, hope. Into weakness, strength. Into bondage, freedom. Into sadness, joy. Into confusion, certainty. Into suffering, compassion.Jesus Christ, our risen and ascended Lord, is the key to human flourishing.