(1) A few days later when he returned to Capernaum it was heard that he was at home. (2) And many gathered until there was no more room for them, not even around the door, and he was conversing with them about the word. (3) And some came bringing a paralytic to him, carried by four men. (4) And when they were unable to bring him in because of the crowd, they took off the part of the roof where he was, and when there was a hole they let down the paralytic’s mat. (5) And when Jesus saw their faith he said to the paralytic, “Child! Your sins are forgiven you.” (6) Now there were certain scribes there sitting and considering in their hearts, (7) What is this that this man is saying? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins except God? (8) And immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that they were considering this in themselves, and he said to them, “What is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven you?’ or to say, ‘Arise and take your mat, and walk?’ (10) But so that you may know that the son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins–he says to the paralytic, (11) ‘I say to you, Arise, take your mat and go to your house. (12) And he rose up and immediately took his mat and went out before them all, so that everyone was astounded and was glorifying God saying, “We’ve never seen anything like this!” — Mark 2:1-12
Over the last few days I’ve been talking about the forgiving and healing of the paralytic in Mark 2. I hope God has been speaking to you through this story. The wonderful thing about stories is that you can’t really wring out all the meaning in one devotional.
The question I have now is not for the person who was seeking healing and received both forgiveness and healing. My question is for the audience.
Are you a critic or a rejoicer?
It’s a simple question but it will catch many of us on the wrong side, I think. It is so easy to become a critic. The reason is that we often do so starting from good motivations. Let me start with my temptation. A few months ago at our church we had a wonderful Sunday. During the service, there was one planned baptism of a young man who had accepted Christ during the week. Following this, there was a wild 45 minute period when at least five more people came forward, accepted Christ and were baptized.
Now there are lots of criticisms that could come up in a United Methodist Church. Did these people really know what they were doing? Do we have good contact information so they can be discipled? Why would the pastor baptize them within minutes of their decision? Those are all theological issues that good United Methodist theologians and pastors would think about.
I’m right there with the discipleship issue. Do we take whatever steps are necessary to make these people disciples? It’s important. But it’s easy to take working on the important things and turn it into simply being a critic. Because however important all the other things may be, there’s one fact that we need to look at. During that service, half a dozen people gave their hearts to Jesus. That’s something to rejoice about. That shouldn’t stop you or anyone else from getting active with the discipleship, and working to resolve any problems. For example, if you’re afraid the contact information hasn’t been gathered, go and make sure to get it. Make it happen yourself, while you rejoice in what God has done.
Do you see the scribes in the meeting thinking about what Jesus has done? He’s forgiven sins! Blasphemy! Now they could have construed what Jesus said as simply pointing out that God had forgiven the man, but they didn’t. They put the worst construction possible on the event. Critics often do that. They were less concerned with the needs of that man than they were with their theology.
Jesus shows them with the miracle, but I wonder whether the critics were really impressed.
Here’s my question for the day. Are you a critic or a rejoicer?