Sunday, 5 February 2012

God's "Yes"

The gospel reading for today (Mark 2-1-12) is the story of the paralysed man who reaches Christ by being lowered down through the roof. It is one of many tableaus in the gospel that immediately captures the imagination and conjures up a striking visual picture. We can picture the crowds, the heat, the desperation of the friends (or, as Jesus saw it, “their great faith”) the disapproval of the teachers of the law and the drama of the man who came in through the roof turning into the man who walked out through the door!

The second New Testament reading is the wonderful description of Christ as God’s YES ringing out through history and creation,
“ Jesus...is not one who is yes and no, On the contrary, he is God’s “Yes”, for it is he who is the “Yes” to all God’s promises.” (2 Cor 1:19-20)
The connection between the weekly bible readings is not always obvious, but this matching is inspired. The passage from Mark offers us a contrast between the “can do” attitude of the friends of the paralysed man, yes-men who were determined to do whatever it took to bring their friend to Christ, and the “you can’t do that” attitudes of the teachers of the Law, who were very much no-men, with a mindset eager to find objections.
The passage also speaks of barriers - the attitudes that build up barriers and the attitudes that break them down. First of all there is the physical barrier of the crowds and the physical barrier of the roof. God often seems inaccessible, and the journey of faith too full of difficulties until we acknowledge a need so strong that we seek a way through, even if it seems completely unconventional. Secondly, there are the other barriers, the barriers set up by other people who are quicker to define blasphemy than they are to see grace and more willing to see problems than solutions. Thirdly, there is the barrier of sin and the difficulty of accepting forgiveness. The reason the paralysed man wanted to get to Jesus was obvious, he wanted to be able to walk again and was tired of being crippled, but Jesus healed his inner paralysis first because that was the greatest need. The irony is that inner paralysis was also the greatest problem afflicting the teachers of the Law, they just didn’t know it!
This passage tells us that the message of the gospel challenges negativity and paralysis of mind and spirit and offers a ringing affirmative to forgiveness, freedom and hope.

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