August 7, 2014
Dear brothers and sisters,
The good news today is from Mark 2:6-12.
Now some of the scribes were sitting there asking themselves, “Why does this man speak that way? He is blaspheming. Who but God alone can forgive sins?” Jesus immediately knew what they were thinking to themselves, so he said, “Why are you thinking such things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, pick up your mat and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority to forgive sins on earth” he said to the paralytic, “I say to you, rise, pick up your mat, and go home.” He rose, picked up his mat at once, and went away in the sight of everyone. They were all astounded and glorified God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this.”
All things visible and invisible. The forgiveness of sins is an invisible healing something easily said because it can’t be proved. When I am forgiven I know it because I feel at peace and whole again. It’s not something I can show or prove to anyone, though. I am more easily convinced by something I can see in someone else or even myself, showing how shallow my faith is. That’s why Jesus repeatedly healed and cast out demons. He realized that he needed to convince and convert people by means they could see, miracles they could witness as proof of the power and authority given him by God.
I am always given two choices — to believe or not to believe, to embrace the visible as well as the invisible. That’s what faith demands. Mark tells us that all were astounded and glorified God. Presumably that included the scribes as well. However, they chose not to believe. They chose instead to stiffen their enmity toward Jesus and to resolve to discredit and condemn him.
Many in the crowd glorified God. They chose to believe that Jesus was imbued with God’s authority to forgive sins and to heal. The scribes and surely some others chose not to believe that Jesus. In fact, they chose to believe just the opposite, that he was a blasphemer, a poseur, an imposter. Once that judgment has been made they looked for evidence to justify it. Their minds were closed to the possibility that God’s word had taken human form. They could believe in the invisible God, but not the visible God who touches us, heals us, speaks to us, laughs with us, dines with us, suffers with us.
I can identify with the scribes. At times it has been easier for me to believe in the invisible God; it’s been easier to think of Him as a concept, a theory, a distant amorphous something. It’s been much more difficult for me to see Him in you or even in myself, to accept that He has made Himself visible in you and in me. Even more difficult for me to receive HIs actual forgiveness, a tangible reality. Barclay writes something that rings true for me, “That is what Jesus did for me and for God. He literally brought men God’s forgiveness upon earth. Without him they would never have even remotely known about it….Jesus showed men perfectly the attitude of God to men. He could say, ‘I forgive,’ because in him God was saying, ‘I forgive.'”
When I experience forgiveness I am accepting all things visible and invisible. I am making whole God’s love for me. I am embracing His divinity and His humanness through His Son Jesus. I am like the paralytic who rose, picked up his mat, and went away. Went away a believer in God’s visible and invisible love. Went away a whole man. Went away, I trust, to proclaim God’s forgiveness and healing love.