Bible Verse: “‘But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.’ So he said to the man, ‘I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.’” Mark 2:10-11
Scripture Reading: Mark 2:1-12
Expectation can be a tricky thing. It can heat anticipation in us until we nearly boil over. But it can also shake the floor under us until nothing feels stable. Expectation often is an unbidden and unrecognized key to understanding our experiences.
Jesus had a reputation that fueled expectation. Nearly everyone who came to Him was looking for something. They had high expectations. He didn’t disappoint…often.
Coming home to Capernaum, a group of men brought their paralyzed friend to see Jesus. They had caught wind of the things He was doing and, in true altruistic friendship, took up their paralyzed companion and carried Him to see the miracle worker. They knew He could help. He could make their friend whole again. The crowded home was no obstacle. Through the roof they went. Their expectation had been built so high that mere property would not stand in their way. They had heard the good news of His power to heal. They would not be denied. But they would be disappointed, at least temporarily.
When they got their friend down in front of Jesus, their collective breath held as Jesus was about to speak, expectation of good news had to be (pardon the pun) “through the roof.”
“Your sins are forgiven.” The air must have left like a burst balloon. While that was good news after a sort, it was not the good news expected. They were looking for physical, they got something spiritual. They wanted restored legs; they got a clean moral slate. They expected dancing…perhaps literally, but their friend remained on his mat, legs still useless.
But as is often the case with Jesus, the story wasn’t over. The beginning of the good news was the forgiveness.
We know that forgiveness of sins is our deepest need. But sometimes, the greatest need is overshadowed by the immediate need. The deep fissure in our lives, our fractured relationship with God, is sometimes filled with the landslides of sickness, occupational, relational, or other disasters. We come to God asking that our legs gain (or regain) the strength they were designed for, and He gives us something else. But that’s not the end of the story.
Jesus gave the man his legs. He walked out of the house with his mat, out of the story and out of history. But imagine being him. Imagine the next day when he swung his legs out of bed and stood up, if he bothered laying down (I’d be tempted to try to sleep standing up on my new legs). He would have been forced to remember the whole story—the new legs and the forgiven sins. For the rest of his life, he would contemplate the reality that the man who had given him his legs had also forgiven his sins. Did he try to live up to that? Did his legs motivate him to live into the first proclamation? Did either gift from Jesus ever lose its significance?
Jesus brought good news to hearts and bodies because He had the power to do both.
Reflection: What expectation do you have of Jesus? Has there been a time when you have felt disappointed in what you expected from Him? On the other side, how have you brought your friends to Jesus? Is there a friend who needs you to carry them to Him today?
Prayer: Jesus, I know that sometimes I come to You because I want something. Even if I think it’s something good and healthy, it may not be what I need. Thank you for always working in ways that I need, even if they are not ways I expect. Help me to remember the good news of Your forgiveness.
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