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Daily Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Saturday, August 13, 2022  

Today’s Scripture Reading  |  Mark 2:1–12

When he returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. So many gathered around that there was no longer room for them, not even in front of the door, and he was speaking the word to them. Then some people came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. And when they could not bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him, and after having dug through it, they let down the mat on which the paralytic lay. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Child, your sins are forgiven.” Now some of the scribes were sitting there questioning in their hearts, “Why does this fellow speak in this way? It is blasphemy! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” At once Jesus perceived in his spirit that they were discussing these questions among themselves, and he said to them, “Why do you raise such questions in your hearts? Which is easier: to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Stand up and take your mat and walk’? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the paralytic— “I say to you, stand up, take your mat, and go to your home.” And he stood up and immediately took the mat and went out before all of them, so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!” (NRSV)

I spun my wheels on this passage for too long. The first thing that stood out to me was the scribes—those so fixated on moral hierarchy that they have a problem with compassion. Rather than being inspired by Jesus comforting a suffering man, they worry about blasphemy and authority. Current day examples who could stand in for the paralytic man are plentiful—Ukranians, people with uteruses, communities affected by gun violence, just to name a few; the list of oppressed and suffering folks in our day is long. I won’t start listing authority figures who act like the scribes, but I got bogged down by how many people there are in power who block attempts for justice, rights, and help. 

Jesus’ dismay and frustration is easy to identify with, but I lack Jesus’ authority and power. Fixating on the scribes just made me feel helpless and filled with rage. 

I really did not get anywhere in this passage—as in, I was not able to change—until I began to focus on the paralyzed man’s friends. Their love-in-action for him is palpable. I imagined the conversation they had together as they formed a plan to bring their friend to Jesus. I imagined them carrying him through town. When access to Jesus is unlikely, they do not give up. They come up with a new plan. They work together as a team. They find a creative solution. Honestly, they are heroes. Focusing on them gives me hope. A way forward.

I was so fixated on the scribes that I gave myself thought and emotion paralysis. What got me unstuck was finding the characters in the story to bolster me and make me feel less helpless. 

God, I get too focused on the wrong things. Help me find the parts of your stories that move me to action. Amen.

Written by Kat Evans, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church

Reflection and prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church

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