Mark 2 and Felt Needs

Preaching on Mark 2 tomorrow, the passage about Jesus’ encounter with the paralytic.  This one part struck me tonight, perhaps given some recent events in my own life.  

Notice how the most passive, quiet, inactive man in the story is the paralytic.

The friends at least lower him down on the stretcher.  The scribes are active in their hushed critique.  The whole scene closes on the crowd audibly glorifying God.  And in the midst of all of this activity is the paralytic, unmoving, unspeaking, impotent.  He is a completely passive character, apart from the fact that at the end he stands up and leaves the room.

 But Jesus, Messiah, perceives the heart of the man and calls him, “Son.”

I think that Mark is highlighting here a particular truth about Jesus.  He is the agent of salvation.  He is the lone actor.  He alone rightly, reliably, perceives faith in a human heart, he alone whispers his sweet sentence, “Son.  Son. Your sins are all forgiven.”  

You know, this whole man’s life, he probably thought of his paralysis as his greatest curse.  It was his worst part, his most obvious lack, his most felt need.  But Jesus engaged his most felt need in order to satisfy his deepest need.  Because it was his paralysis that made it possible for him to come before Jesus in the only way that is befitting.   

And this is how it works for us too, isn’t it? We find ourselves before Jesus, helpless, without excuse, without an alibi.  No “Yes, but’s” just you and all of your failures, wounds, guilt, crimes, your worst moments.
That is where Messiah meets us. 
There is a reason why the stories that Christians tell about their first meaningful encounters with Jesus so often include some sort of difficult moment in their lives.  Some time when they felt helpless, afraid, terrified, or abandoned. 
My grandfather was a staunch agnostic until he was diagnosed with lymphoma, and fell in love with Jesus while he lay in bed, his body destroyed by chemotherapy.  He lived for ten more years as a Jesus worshiper.
But it isn’t always so dramatic. It can be subtle, nagging sense of dissatisfaction with all of your personal treasure, goals, broken relationships, deep loneliness.
Then there is a turning to God.
The paralytic’s faith that Jesus could heal him of his paralysis signifies a deeper inclination in his heart and Jesus recognized it and laid hold of it.  His felt need gave him opportunity to have his deepest need, his need for forgiveness, satisfied.

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