The packed house.

The man with the four friends. It’s the perfect story to tell in Sunday school.

Bringing friends to Jesus is what I always taught about. Whatever it takes, get your friends to Jesus. Even if you have to rip the roof up. Scandalous damage. Perfect for five-year-olds.

But that wasn’t what anyone in the house that day noticed. The crazy part of the story is, of course, the forgiveness of sins. That’s the thing that no one else did, that no one else could do, that no one else dared to do. (Okay, that and the mind reading).


Jesus had been away. Out in the villages and then in the space between villages. Synagogues to sand dunes.

And the stories about him always preceded him. Telling spirits to be quiet. Touching lepers. And always this message: repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.

That mixture of power, proclamation, and presence will always attract a crowd. Always. The ability to do something. A future-oriented story with actions for the moment. All in a person who is here and now and real.

When Jesus is in the house, everyone wanted to be. Everyone. There was no concern that his leper-touching made him unclean. The cleanness oozed from his dusty pores. (Yes. Jesus had and has pores).

There was no room in the house, and no room outside the door.

It was, of course, by our standards a small house or, perhaps, synagogue, the synagogue from a few paragraphs back. We imagine a house holding thousands (we can see them every Sunday). But this crowd could be measured by many dozens, not hundreds. The point, for Mark, is that people were coming from everywhere, from many levels of the culture, and crowding around to hear and see and be touched by Jesus.

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