It was about a few days later, and Jesus returned to Capernaum. Word spread like wild fire that he was back home. At first it was a slow trickle, a few people started hanging around outside the house. Then it was as if someone slashed an artery, people were spilling out from everywhere. There was so many people around the house, it was like a plugged sink nothing was getting in or out. Inside the house, Jesus the Kingdom story teller was rebooting the imagination of humanity telling radical, scandalous redemptive parables of an alternative world that turned this one upside down. But there they were four men and a paraplegic weaving through the crowd like a drunken seamstress with a needle. They got as close as they could and couldn't poke their way any further. Sometimes when desperation strikes you have to break something open and create your own window of opportunity.
Walking around the perimeter of the crowd there wasn't even a crack to squeeze through, and that is when up became the only alternative. So scaling the side of the house with their limp, and lifeless friend into the reached the summit. Here, they knocked...punching their way through the roof of the house. They lowered there friend into the midst of Jesus and the front row spectators. Seeing the friends incredible act of faith Jesus said, " Son, your sins are forgiven."
The religious professionals, the proprietors of godly goods and services in their usual front row seats taking notes, squawked among each others like crows, " He can't talk that way! That's blasphemy! God and only God can forgive sins...we manage that business."
Jesus knew right away what they were thinking , and said, "Why are you so skeptical?, you think it can't be done without a middle man. Which is simpler: to say to the paraplegic, 'I forgive your sins,' or say, 'Get up, take your stretcher, and start walking'? Well, just so it's clear that I'm the Son of Man and authorized to do either, or both . . ." he looked with compassion, a smile filled with grace at the paraplegic, "Get up. Pick up your stretcher and go home."
And the man did it—got up, grabbed his stretcher, and walked out, with everyone there watching him. They rubbed their eyes, incredulous—and then it was electrical, the buzz of people talking about God, saying, "We've never seen anything like this!"
At this point, religious professionals, the proprietors of godly goods and services were fuming mad, they glared at Jesus...knowing this was going to have a huge impact on the religious business. ( my paraphrase Mark 2:1-12 )
This is one of my favourite stories in the gospels. It confronts our theology from all sides. It's like when you were a kid, and your friends would grab you and spin you around and around and then let you go. You would take a step or two, dizzy and wobbly you would fall on your face...your world spinning around you. Jesus often has this effect on our theological mindset. We don't know much about these four guys and their paraplegic friend, mysteriously weaving their way into the story, literally falling into center of it through the roof.
Amazingly the forgiveness formula is challenged, the A + B = C, repent + belief = forgiveness. These guys haul their neighbor in and the first thing Jesus says, " Son, your sins are forgiven." The guy didn't even ask to be forgiven, didn't make a confession of faith. If we are only forgiven by belief that Jesus " died " for our sins, what's going here? Was he just being forgiven for the instrusion? Here again, grace, like divine lighting unexpectedly strikes...without the religious professionals, the proprietors of godly goods and services giving directions making sure the guy has obeyed all the road signs. We really don't give Jesus very much credit that he infact can do things without our help.
The most profound reality in this story is this nuclear explosion that releases a cosmic redemptive energy that changes everything. Jesus talks about it constantly in the gospels. When we hold to and live out Jesus great command constantly in our comings and goings, in our daily momentary living...loving God to the max, and loving our neighbor to the max. These four guys showed that, their risky love for their lame neighbor, and unwavering love for God brought them to their roof top experience. The redemptive imagination of Jesus comes to life...Jesus comes to life. It's here Jesus doesn't need the religious professionals, the proprietors of godly goods and services, we just need to live in the moment. So much of faith is about things we don't control, that this thing called " grace " like divine lightning can strike anywhere at anytime...forgiving, and healing.
Risk, just living out loving God with absolutely everything you have, and loving your neighbor with everything you have. You might be surprised.