Saturday, March 28, 2020

Mark 2 A Tool for meditation

I will be doing a guided meditation on Mark 2:1-12 which can be found on St. Andrews' website. If you have the St. Andrew's app, simply press the "sermons" tag on the bottom and you can find it.

Mark 2:1-12 (//Mt 9:1-8; Lk 5:17-26)

Mark begins the Gospel with Jesus proclaimng the Gospel and healing. Chapter two is a longer story which goes into greater detail. We begin to see a growing (negative) reaction to Jesus and His ministry, which will culminate in the crucifixion. However, I invite you to see the story in terms of your own journey to Jesus for forgiveness and healing. 

Jesus has returned to Capernaum, His home town. Biblically, the "home" can be symbolic of what must be left behind--it is "the fallen world" in which we are comfortably cut off from God. (The "world" is a theological idea here, like the "flesh." It is meant in terms of sin or separatin from God. In other places, home, world and flesh have the more typical, even positive meaning).

Jesus' teaching and healing ministry are a sensation. If the local rulers (church and state) are keeping a suspicious eye on Jesus, the people, the "lost sheep" are drawn to this "Good Shepherd" who is in the house. Needy people gather around the house, surrounding it with their desire for help. It would have been somewhat scary, crowds can get unruly and needy people can be demanding. There was, no doubt, some jostling and pushing going on....

Four men approach with a paralytic. Four is the symbolci number of the world. The four corners of the earth or the four points on the compass are images of that. In the Book of Revelation, chapter 4, there are four living creatures--a lion, a calf, a man, an eagle--which symbolize all living creatures. The four are the earthly realm. The "world" in the good sense of creation (which God called good and blessed) and the place where God encounters us. So I invite you to see the four men as people in your life, or institutions, or events, or places which have brought you to Jesus. They are the ones who carry us where we can not go on our own. The paralytic is someone who is physically diminished, so he is a symbol of all types of infirmity. The Greek word literally means someone who has a side not working. Maybe like a stroke victim, but it also meant those who were damaged and weak in any way. The paralytic is our "dependent, broken self." This includes mental, emotional and spiritual factors; whatever makes us unholy and unwhole is a "paralytic." 

The 'church' carries us to Christ--the believers bring us to him. The people of faith intercede for us. Jesus responds to their faith (in most stories it is the faith of the supplicant!). It is good to know we are not on our own, especially in times when we cannot trust enough on our own. We can bring the unconscious (figuratively or literally) to Jesus, and we can be brought to Jesus. Faith has a communal aspect and we share in one faith. Modern individualism might be offended by such an idea, but it is biblical that the faith of one can be a venue for the salvation of another.

Jesus responds to the paralytic declaring forgiveness of his sins. When some of the crowd  are offended and question this He asks a question. Is it easier to say you are forgiven or get up and walk. It is obviously the former. No one can prove a sin is not forgiven, but anyone can see if the man can walk. Jesus than says, "I will prove it...stand up."

The lovely story in Mark 2 gives us insight into Jesus, but also invites us to be healed and forgiven. I have done a meditation on this reading for those who have a hard time meditating on their own. It is in the sermon section of our website. If you have the app it is quick to find. If you are comfortable to meditate on your home, then imagine being the man. Who carried you to Jesus? What takes away your vitality? What sin, doubt, fear, wound, injury, physical malady makes you a "paralytic"? If you can honestly face the brokenness--physical, mental, emotional, social, spiritual--and you allow yourself to come to Jesus see what He says to you.
"You are forgiven." For so many believing this is too hard. We see ourselves as outcast, we fear judgement. Jesus did not respond to anything the man said, He declared forgiveness. This is because Jesus forgives us first. Jesus forgives because He came to save sinners! When we respond, then we are reconciled, but His forgiveness always comes first. Jesus wants loving union with us. Trust Him. The deepest healing is union with the Holy Three in love. The life of God within us makes us whole. It begins now and can manifest aleady. At the New Creation we will be fully healed, but in the meantime let us receive all the healing which Christ offers in this time of our earthly sojourn.

After the meditation, I invite you to pray in response to His healing and forgiveness. God provides a psalm for those who have been healed (Psalm 30) or forgiven (Psalm 32). I highly recommend frequent use of both. I highly recommend frequent meditation on stories of healing and forgiveness, especially when praying for yourself or others. 

Jesus said the Kingdom is near at hand. Through our trust in Him, that kingdom can break through and enter us and impact us now, already. Let us pray "Father, your kingdom come!" Let us receive, now, the foretaste of all to come. 

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