Last week we looked at the determined faith of the paralytic and his four friends. It's quite a story Mark tells in the second chapter of his Gospel, one that really gets us thinking about who God is and how God acts, especially when faith enters the picture.
Some of the concepts and principles that emerge in Mark 2 are worth shining a spotlight on, because sometimes we forget just how crucial faith really is. Of course, I don't want to overemphasize faith or human agency and underemphasize God's sovereignty, but neither do I want to discount the fact that Scripture implores us to believe in God's ability to resolve the most intractable human problems.
So let's move forward with an understanding that in all of this talk about faith we are simply trying to keep God's greatness in view, so that we never miss out on what He is capable of doing, no matter how impossible the circumstances may seem. What we miss or get wrong in our interpretation, the Holy Spirit will certainly make clear.
For now, let's resolve to exercise our faith with as much tenacity as the paralytic's four friends, while also focusing our attention on the pioneer and perfecter of our faith: Jesus Christ. And let us continue to draw strength and encouragement from the insights that emerge as we read Mark's story. For me, there are at least three things the story invites us to consider:
First, the story invites us to consider what faith can do, particularly in the life of someone whose situation seems hopeless. And you may know someone like that right now. We all walk around with varying degrees of brokenness. Sometimes it's unseen and unknown. Other times, our brokenness is in full view. We come to Jesus to make us whole. And like the paralytic, sometimes we come to Jesus on the backs of our friends. Their faith carries us to Him.
Second, the story invites us to consider what God can do, especially when our faith is making a demand on Him. Miracles are God's way of reminding us that we're not stuck in a world devoid of the supernatural. Anything's possible. And it's that hope — grounded in the reality of a God who sees and knows and hears and has the ability to transform our circumstances — that has sustained Christians for centuries. Thankfully, our problems don't define us; God does. Our problems are neither the first nor the last word of who we are; God is.
Finally, the story invites us to consider the radical nature of an encounter with Christ. Jesus reconfigured this man's life. The paralysis that once defined his existence was removed. The sin that once crippled his inner world was forgiven. Jesus, doing what He does best, changes everything.And this is our story:
In Christ, we have been brought into a relationship with a God who has the power to change everything. We're not stuck in a world that's had the supernatural sucked out of it. God is at work, and it was that understanding that compelled the paralytic's four friends to bring him to Jesus. By God's grace, may we be as faith-filled and determined as they were.