As we head into this unique season we all know that church is going to look quite different for the foreseeable future. With this in mind I’d like to share some of the hope that the Lord sprung in my heart while doing devotions with my daughter this last week.
This is the story from Mark 2:-12 which tells us we are not the first or only ones who faced great obstacles when it came to gathering before Jesus. Consider the "Man on the Mat".
1When Jesus returned to Capernaum several days later, the news spread quickly that he was back home. 2 Soon the house where he was staying was so packed with visitors that there was no more room, even outside the door. While he was preaching God’s word to them, 3 four men arrived carrying a paralyzed man on a mat. 4 They couldn’t bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, so they dug a hole through the roof above his head. Then they lowered the man on his mat, right down in front of Jesus. 5 Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man, “My child, your sins are forgiven.”
6 But some of the teachers of religious law who were sitting there thought to themselves, 7 “What is he saying? This is blasphemy! Only God can forgive sins!”
8 Jesus knew immediately what they were thinking, so he asked them, “Why do you question this in your hearts? 9 Is it easier to say to the paralyzed man ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or ‘Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk’? 10 So I will prove to you that the Son of Man has the authority on earth to forgive sins.” Then Jesus turned to the paralyzed man and said, 11 “Stand up, pick up your mat, and go home!”
12 And the man jumped up, grabbed his mat, and walked out through the stunned onlookers. They were all amazed and praised God, exclaiming, “We’ve never seen anything like this before!”
It strikes me that this man had at least three problems… three problems Jesus alone could solve.
1. His sin. Jesus could forgive it.
Friends – see what an opportunity we have in this time to spread the message of the good news. That for our most deadly virus – sin – spread to all, through all history, God has made a cure in Christ, by the blood of His cross. Right now many are wondering, asking, struggling with the big questions of life. And you have the answers in the Gospel and the Word of God: Christ came into this world to save sinners!
2. His body. Jesus could heal it.
Friends – see how these times reveal so clear what’s long been true. The world is broken. From bodies to governments…not all is well, is it? Yet…When we see Jesus heal the paralyzed man, we see also a glimpse of what’s coming: Renewed Creation! The same Jesus who made lame legs walk is coming again to make all things new, whole, and right…
‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”(Revelation 21:4)
3. His Distance. Jesus could close it.
Friends – here is what struck me most: seeing what was done to overcome the physical distance to Jesus. Broken legs and big crowds separated him far from the Lord. But Jesus had a Provision: Friends, with solutions. Unusual, creative and surprising solutions. In fact, isn’t this the very thing that makes this story so exciting?! I mean really? ...A few friends climb onto a roof. Cut a hole in it. Lower a man through it! You’d get into serious trouble if you tried that at the GBC building, wouldn’t you?
But the circumstances called for it. Distance had to be overcome. So something not tried before, they tried. And that’s where we are. We [all] find ourselves, like these friends, in a sacred task of closing a great distance, of embracing the challenge to figure out a way together. So climb a roof. Cut a hole. Build a contraption of mats and ropes. Do what you can, what is needed, in order to close the distance, to bring another closer to Jesus.