Lectionary Year B
February 20, 2000
Mark 2:1-12

Step VI: Contemporary Address


      I would like to give the audience a vital image of the ministry of Jesus and the opposition of the scribes. My thesis is that Jesus is either the Son of God or Jesus is a blasphemer. The sermon is about the relationship of Jesus' ministry of healing and why the scribes would oppose his work. The scribes were the local authorities and Jesus was taking over their domain and acting in the prerogatives of God. The sermon hopes to cause folks to re-examine their view of the authority of Christ in their lives. It is hoped that they will begin to notice who the scribes in their lives are and see that they appreciate the authority of Christ today.


"I never saw that before". Mark is a Gospel with a unique tone. It is a heavy, action-packed story with a lot of emotion.
Like many emotional stories there are things that are troubling that are left unresolved.
In our story we have a situation of high energy.
The local boy turned healer is in town and he's speaking at a local house. Word has spread ahead of time and the place is packed. The door is jammed with folks.
Four people come bearing a paralytic and they are so intent that when they can't get in the door they start tearing up the roof.
Will you imagine this scene with me? People are packed into this home. They've been told about this miracle man and they've come. It's so packed and the energy is so high that when four people climb the roof nobody notices and then they take the roof off and the wonder doesn't even appear on the scene.
Jesus notices their faith and then talks to the paralytic saying ,"your sins are forgiven".
Now we are told here in the middle of the story about a group of folks that are present. The scribes. They are Jesus' protagonists throughout the book of Mark. Now grammatically this section is set apart from the rest of the passage. It's important the author wants us to pay attention.
Have you ever listened to a small child share a story? If you aren't paying attention at the important part they'll reach out and pull your pants leg to make sure you're listening.
They accuse Jesus of being a blasphemer.
Scribes are the legal authorities of their day.
We're use to Jesus as part of the Trinity = God. But in his time to claim to forgive sins and to heal was God's job description.
Hear this. It's important. If Jesus is not the one true God, he is a blasphemer by Jewish law. No one but God can forgive sins.
It's a radical claim. And there, listening, are the legal experts the "local authorities".
To add insults to injury to the scribes Jesus lays claim to authority and claims it through healing the paralytic. It's radical it's daring, he's challenging the authorities right to their faces.
I never saw that before.
It's revealed a little when Jesus knows that they argue in their hearts. And then he points out the issues involve and asks them to pick which is "the better trouble". As if to say,
"Am I a blasphemer for forgiving sins if I heal this man?"
When we meet Jesus in Mark's Gospel, we don't just meet a suffering servant. We don't just meet a child in a manger we meet a man of action who is God and is willing to act in the authority of God by confronting his enemies face to face.
Jesus is confronting the local government. (Explain about the scribes as local leaders).
Why were they there? (Talk about them being local authorities and that they were given to quoting scriptures at each other as authority and that if they could cause a witness to doubt their own testimony they would discredit them.)
Jesus made them a witness to his authority. If they saw without a doubt what had happened then by their legal process they had to give him credit.
I hadn't seen that before. Jesus is turning things around on the scribes. He's taking the fight right at them. Maybe he's trying to win them over with their own methods.
He heals the paralytic in mid-sentence with the scribes.
And the crowds say "I never saw that before".

      I can't help but to wonder how many of us are arguing in our hearts. Do we see Jesus as the one true God? Or do we tuck him away as a teacher and healer? By the rules of his time he would have either had to be God or he would have been a blasphemer. It is important to realize this and to realize that he was not immediately put on trial. Popular apologist C.S. Lewis in his book Mere Christianity makes the point clear. Jesus is either God or a raving lunatic. It is my fear that like the scribes we are often too afraid of the implications of what Jesus does to accept who he is. We do not want to loose authority. We want to continue as the Captains of our own souls. But Mark with hand firmly planted on his hip is grabbing your pants leg today asking you to pay attention to the important part. Jesus is God.

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