FRIDAY OF THE FIRST WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME
Hebrews 4:1-5, 11
Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest is still open, let us take care that none of you should seem to have failed to reach it. For indeed the good news came to us just as to them; but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened. For we who have believed enter that rest, just as God has said,
“As in my anger I swore,
‘They shall not enter my rest,’”
though his works were finished at the foundation of the world. For in one place it speaks about the seventh day as follows, “And God rested on the seventh day from all his works.” And again in this place it says, “They shall not enter my rest.”
Let us therefore make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one may fall through such disobedience as theirs.
Psalm 78: 3-4, 6c-8
Things that we have heard and known,
that our ancestors have told us.
We will not hide them from their children;
we will tell to the coming generation
the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might,
and the wonders that he has done.
that the next generation might know them,
the children yet unborn,
and rise up and tell them to their children,
so that they should set their hope in God,
and not forget the works of God,
but keep his commandments;
and that they should not be like their ancestors,
a stubborn and rebellious generation,
a generation whose heart was not steadfast,
whose spirit was not faithful to God.
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, “Son, 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!”
In Hebrews we read that people did not benefit from hearing the Gospel, "because they were not united by faith". Only believers enter into God's rest. Only believers can understand how important it is to listen to the word of God.
The paralytic in the Gospel of Mark heard Jesus tell him to get up and take his mat and he obeyed him and walked! Immediately, the scribes began to grumble about the validity of Jesus forgiving sins. They were not impressed by the miracle or thought within themselves, "this must mean that I can be forgiven too." Jesus saw this as a problem with their faith. We see that even when we have eye witness experiences of the goodness of God, faith is hard and we are prone to doubt. But it is no more difficult for God to forgive the sins of his people than it is to heal them. It is in the heart of God to do this who sent his Son to save us.
How do we avoid the stubbornness and rebelliousness that causes us to wander away from God? Let’s look at the example of the paralytic. The paralytic was at a point in his life where he could no longer help himself. He was aware of his need to rely on the aid of other people, and they were aware of his need for Jesus. When the paralytic came face to face with Jesus, he first received forgiveness of his sins. All sin breaks down our relationship with God. So in this first reconciliation, the paralytic enters into a personal relationship with Jesus. The fruit of that relationship then, is faith to receive physical healing. The formally paralytic man now has an undeniable testimony of a powerful encounter with the Savior of the world. The scribes, on the other hand, observed, but did not enter into a reconciliatory relationship with Jesus.
If we follow the model of the paralytic in pursuing Christ, we will see that first off we need to acknowledge the things we can not accomplish on our own. First we must embrace humility, recognizing that we are sinners who are unable to perfect ourselves. Then either by our own ambition, or by the guidance of others, we approach Jesus, repent, and receive forgiveness. In receiving forgiveness, we allow faith to shape us and open us to receive the healing power of Christ.. Our lives then will reflect the beauty and love of God when others witness the change in us.
Today consider where you are in the story of the paralytic. Are you seeking Jesus and letting Him shape who you become, or do you feel like you are standing back and watching other people have encounters with God, wondering if it’s real? A relationship with Jesus is not a spectator sport. God desires each of us to have a personal relationship with Him so that He may heal and transform us. If you feel like you resonate more with the idea of watching others know Jesus, consider approaching Him yourself. Jesus will receive you, He will forgive you, and He will heal you.