Most of us have high expectations of Jesus, but Mark chapter 2 records a story of a man who has lowered expectations….literally. One thing we quickly learn is that Jesus doesn’t care to meet expectations, only needs. It a ridiculous account of a guy who is carried by four of his friends then lowered on a mat through the ceiling of a home, and comes to rest at the feet of Jesus. To say this wasn’t a desperate attempt is to misunderstand desperation. I can only imagine what would drive someone to climb onto a roof with a paralytic friend. The boldness demonstrated by them cutting a hole in the ceiling of someone else’s house, and thinking this is all ok is inspiring. Just as shocking as the renovation is that this poor paralytic gets lowered down into this house to the gaze of a multitude-home owner included. It doesn’t matter how many bring you to jesus, in the end it is still you and him face to face. Jesus breaks the silence with his outrageous statement ‘Your sins are forgiven!’. What sort of sins does a mattress bound paralytic find himself involved in? Before you answer that, lets understand the word ‘sin’. The original meaning of the Greek word we translate as sin is to miss the mark, like an archer shooting at a target. So Jesus tells this man, that in all the ways he has missed the mark, he is free, whole, he gets a do over.
I can only imagine what this man believed his whole life about himself. These words mean more to him than to any bystander in that room. It makes me wonder if our concept of Sin is so wrong. Even the word seems superficial because it isn’t a word I would use everyday. But when I understand it in terms of this man missing the mark it hits the mark. There is no question to me that this man would have looked at his condition and seen it as limiting. He must have begun to believe that he was worth less. Those are dangerous moments when we begin to believe the rhetoric we tell ourselves. Sometimes the lies we believe are far worse than the lies we tell. Jesus sets this man free from the belief that he has missed the mark. It is an odd miracle in that room. Everyone was assuming that Jesus would just heal the man, and in due time he does that as well. I think that one of the most amazing things about this passage is the first miracle-is the one that everyone in that room needs. While many were amazed by his ability to walk, how many would give up their legs to feel forgiven, to feel free, to be released form the disappointment of not being enough.
The truth is many people with physical disabilities have gone on to inspire the world with their lives and many able bodied people have gone on to waste a beautiful life.
I think too often we miss what God does because of how God does it. Make no mistake, this isn’t a story about a lame man walking. This is a story about a man who entered the room feeling trapped by the mat he laid on. When he left it wasn’t just his belief in Jesus that made him whole, it was that Jesus believed in him. This man’s sin was believing that this mat was all he would ever be, and his liberation was understanding that he was made for more than this.