Day Four: Sunday, February 18

Mark 2:1-17

When Jesus entered again into Capernaum after some days, it was heard that he was in the house. Immediately many were gathered together, so that there was no more room, not even around the door; and he spoke the word to them. Four people came, carrying a paralytic to him. When they could not come near to him for the crowd, they removed the roof where he was. When they had broken it up, they let down the mat that the paralytic was lying on. Jesus, seeing their faith, said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven you.”

But there were some of the scribes sitting there, and reasoning in their hearts, “Why does this man speak blasphemies like that? Who can forgive sins but God alone?”

Immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they so reasoned within themselves, said to them, “Why do you reason these things in your hearts? Which is easier, to tell the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven;’ or to say, ‘Arise, and take up your bed, and walk?’ But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the paralytic— “I tell you, arise, take up your mat, and go to your house.”

He arose, and immediately took up the mat, and went out in front of them all; so that they were all amazed, and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!”

He went out again by the seaside. All the multitude came to him, and he taught them. As he passed by, he saw Levi, the son of Alphaeus, sitting at the tax office, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he arose and followed him.

He was reclining at the table in his house, and many tax collectors and sinners sat down with Jesus and his disciples, for there were many, and they followed him. The scribes and the Pharisees, when they saw that he was eating with the sinners and tax collectors, said to his disciples, “Why is it that he eats and drinks with tax collectors and sinners?”

When Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are healthy have no need for a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”

In the story of the paralyzed man whose friends bring him to Jesus, “Jesus’ response to
their faith was the unexpected statement, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven!’ The pronounce-
ment was startling because it seemed inappropriate and even irrelevant to the immediate
situation. It is intelligible, however, against the background provided by the Old Testa-
ment where sin and disease, forgiveness and healing are frequently interrelated concepts.
Healing is conditioned by the forgiveness of God, and is often the demonstration of that
forgiveness. (See II Chronicles 7:14; Psalm 103:3; Isaiah 19:22; 38:17; 57:18) In a num-
ber of texts healing and forgiveness are interchangeable terms (Psalm 41:4, ‘heal me, for I
have sinned against thee’; Jeremiah 3:22 and Hosea14:4) Healing is a gracious movement
of God into the sphere of withering and decay which are the tokens of death at work in a
person’s life. It was not God’s intention that humans should live with the pressure of death
upon them. Sickness, disease and death are the consequence of the sinful condition of all
human beings. Consequently every healing is a driving back of death and an invasion of
the province of sin.

That is why it is appropriate for Jesus to proclaim the remission of
sins. It is unnecessary to think of a corresponding sin for each instance of sickness; there
is no suggestion in the narrative that the paralytic’s physical suffering was related to a spe-
cific sin or was due to hysteria induced by guilt. Jesus’ pronouncement of pardon is the
recognition that humans can be genuinely whole only when the breach occasioned by sin
has been healed through God’s forgiveness of sins.”
(William Lane, The Gospel of Mark: The New International Commentary on the New Testament, p. 94)

Day Five: Monday, February 19
Day Three: Saturday, February 17