25 February 2018

posted 23 Feb 2018, 07:57 by C S Paul

25 February 2018

Scripture reading and Sermon

Based on the Lectionary of the Syrian Orthodox Church

Third Sunday of Great Lent (Paralytic/Palsy Sunday)

Reading from the Scripture for this Sunday

Mark 2:1-12 New King James Version (NKJV)

Jesus Forgives and Heals a Paralytic

And again He entered Capernaum after some days, and it was heard that He was in the house. 

Immediately many gathered together, so that there was no longer room to receive them, not even near the door. And He preached the word to them. 

Then they came to Him, bringing a paralytic who was carried by four men. 

And when they could not come near Him because of the crowd, they uncovered the roof where He was. So when they had broken through, they let down the bed on which the paralytic was lying.

When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven you.”

And some of the scribes were sitting there and reasoning in their hearts, 

“Why does this Man speak blasphemies like this? Who can forgive sins but God alone?”

But immediately, when Jesus perceived in His spirit that they reasoned thus within themselves, He said to them, “Why do you reason about these things in your hearts? 

Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise, take up your bed and walk’? 

10 But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins”—He said to the paralytic, 

11 “I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.” 

12 Immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went out in the presence of them all, so that all were amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!”

My Children, Your Sins are Forgiven, Rise, You are No Longer Paralyzed!

by Rev. Fr. Alexander J. Kurien

There is very little debate surrounding the authorship of the Gospel of Mark, which was written in around A.D. 65. Mark was the nephew of Barnabas and the son of a wealthy woman whose home was used as a meeting place for the early church. Mark's Gospel is the most important of the gospels because it provides an eyewitness account to the life of Christ, and likely the basis for the other synoptic gospels that contain 90% of the content of the gospel of Mark. Mark's Gospel gets straight to the point, by skipping the birth, the first 30 years of Jesus, and beginning at his ministry in Galilee. Capernaum means the, "city of comfort" for which it is named appropriately, because in Jesus' time, there lived some wealthy residents. This is the first place Jesus starts His ministry (Mathew 4:17). The city is located on the northwest side of the Sea of Galilee next to Cana where he turned the water into wine. Fishing was very important to the town and tax collectors used to sit on the side of the highway to tax the merchants and residents who came and went. Capernaum was the hotbed of society. It was like the New York of Judea, where people from all over Israel went into Capernaum.

I can only imagine a paralyzed person, the hero of this story, living in ancient Israel. Most probably, he was a beggar, with no families to care for. It appears to be clear that this was the way his life would have been until his death. He did not have a lot of options for change. But one day you begin to hear stories - there's a new holy man wandering the backwoods of Israel, and he is healing people right and left. Lepers are being cleansed, the lame are walking, and the blind are seeing, people with demons are having them exorcised. At first, you are skeptical, just a rumor, nothing more. But after a while the stories keep coming, and you begin to think, what have I got to lose? So you get together with some buddies of yours and talk it over, and they agree that, yeah, this is worth checking out; and they pick you up on your mat and set out to find the holy man.

Your friends look at the crowd and they pick you up and run around the edge of the crowd to the backside of the house. They haul you up on the roof, begin digging a hole in it and rig a rope to lower you down into the room. There he is - the holy man himself! He turns and sees you, and you're thinking, yes, yes, finally I will be able to walk! Finally I will be healed! He looks at you and smiles, and he raises his hand and say, "My son... your sins are forgiven." If physically able, I could picture this man lying there, raising his hand and saying, "Um, excuse me sir; I think you may have mixed up my paperwork. I didn't come here with a sin problem."

The overall purpose of the passage was to show that Jesus is the Messiah, and that the Jews were wrong to reject him. He proves His divinity through the forgiveness of sins, which is only an act that God can do. He came to heal the sin sick soul. He used their wisdom of sin and disease against them. Ultimately there was no excuse for their disbelief. The scribes themselves taught that the Messiah would come to forgive sins (Micah 7:14-20). They should have been expecting Christ. Instead of recognizing the prophecy, they accused Jesus of Blasphemy (Mathew 4:12- 17, Isaiah 9:1, 2). They stood in judgment of God.

According to early tradition, disease was perceived to be an indicator of unforgiving sin. A belief derived from the sacrificial system; if the sacrifice was blemished it was not pure enough to offer as atonement for sin. So, a diseased animal could not cleanse sin. What ever caused the sin makes you unclean or blemished. Thus, a diseased person was enduring a punishment or consequence to sin. Children could suffer from the disease from the sin of their parents, such as the death of the baby born to David and Beersheba. Also, the commandment, "…visiting the iniquities of your father to the third and forth generation," echoes this sentiment.

As you know, theologically, disease is a kin to death. Sin entered this world and the result was Death, whereby we die slowly from birth. As a result of sin, we exchanged immortality for Death. When Jesus says "your sins are forgiven you" and the result is healing, the presupposition is that disease, the result of death, is caused by sin. Death is the curse of sin. God implemented the curse; Jesus' salvation plan reversed the curse. Uncompassionate scribes saw sin as a weakness that someone brought on himself or herself. They judge the man who is diseased. The debt of sin that man has belongs to God. This thinking is where Jesus chooses to meet the scribes in their minds when he says to the paralytic man, "Your sins are forgiven you."

Immediately following our passage of scripture in verses 13-17 we find the theme reiterated. In verse 17 Christ tells the Scribes and Pharisees, "They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." Jesus was using their wisdom of the scripture as their folly because of their hypocrisy and rejection of the fulfillment of the prophecies, within Him. Their knowledge and wisdom bred self-righteousness and hypocrisy, which resulted in their rejection of God's prophetic fulfillment in Jesus Christ. In other words now they would have to subject themselves to the authority of Jesus Christ in order to be healed and saved, which indicates their requirement to repent from sin, sin that they were not willing to admit that they had. To accept healing in way that Jesus presented it as forgiveness of sin, would be to accept that He indeed was the Christ. Jesus knowing their thoughts calls them out by exposing their evil thoughts and intentions, When He says, "Whether is it easier to say to the sick of the palsy, Your sins be forgiven you; or to say, Arise, and take up thy bed, and walk? But that ye may know that the Son of Man hath power on earth to forgive sins… (Mark 2:9, 10).

Mark 2:1-12 serves as a model of faith, a warning against doubt, a lesson of spiritual discernment, and a testimony of the power of the Savior to change lives, heal, forgive sins and grant eternal life. From this passage we can glean many lessons that are applicable for the Christian today. As a model of faith this passage teaches us that when we have trouble, problems, or circumstances, we are to bring them to Jesus. The biblical truth illuminated in this passage is that the Jesus who forgives our sins is able and has the compassion to heal your circumstances. It teaches us that it pleases the Lord when we diligently seek the Lord and intercede on behalf of a friend or loved one. Our faith in Christ can result in the salvation of our neighbor. We must allow the word of God to permeate our hearts and transform us toward Christ-likeness, and to be under the authority of Christ and His Holy Spirit. Often times we can mistake the knowledge of righteousness as the change of character we need to be able do right.

However when the circumstances arise, true character prevails. We must be careful not to exchange religiosity and doctrine for genuine relationship with God and a Christ-like character, as the basis for our study of God's word. Thus, we must display the fruits of Christ-like character, not the mere knowledge of scripture.

We love our status in society and could not humble ourselves to believe the Gospel message of repentance of remittance of sins, we are often not ready when Christ Jesus says, "your, sins are forgiven you." The paralytic man not only walks away with is bed as a testimony of his healing, but also as a result of his encounter with Christ, he walks away with eternal life. We also should be ready when Jesus comes. We too are living in the days of the fulfillment of prophecy, and discerning the times we should be ready to receive Jesus when he comes again to receive our reward of eternal life. As we prepare ourselves for the remembrance of His death on the Cross and the Resurrection, let us remove the Scribes and Pharisees -like "know-it all and self-righteous" believes and accept that we are also crippled and paralyzed with our sinful living and sin sick soul, leading towards eventual death. Are you leading an unhappy family life, where you no longer want to run home after work? Are you experiencing unhappy times with your spouse and children? You have no good memories to look back after years of living in this earthly tent? Are you miserable going to church and your work? You, your siblings, and your friends are not in speaking terms? Then, you may be experiencing the sin sick dying soul. I am certain that you just do not want to live and die being a paralytic or crippled. Imagine yourself like the paralytic, lying on your mat, hearing Jesus say, "Child, your sins are forgiven. Your old life, the good of it and the bad of it, is done. Now get up, pick up your mat, and walk out that door to discover what your new life is like."