“It was, of course, by our standards, a small house.”
That’s what I wrote the other day, reflecting on the place where people packed around Jesus. I read those words again, getting ready to start writing this next piece. I was struck by the arrogance of my assumption of your standards of the size of a house.
For the people reading this story for the first time, the point was not the size of the house or the size of the crowd. The point will be about the words of Jesus. Which is always the point of the stories Mark has gathered.
In the packed space, Jesus was preaching. A group of men arrived, including a man paralyzed, carried by four of the group. Knowing how buildings were built, the men went up on the flat roof and made a hole above where Jesus was teaching, large enough to lower the man through, which they did.
And now the scene is set: crowded space in Capernaum, hole in the roof, a paralyzed man on a mat literally in the physical and dramatic center of attention. What will Jesus do?
“When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven.'”
This simple statement raises so many questions. Whose faith? How much faith? What sins? What’s the formula? The questions Mark records are from the religious leaders who thought, “What gives him the right to talk about forgiveness?”
Their question, in the religious culture they, and the crowded house, and Jesus all grew up in, made sense. But since John, and then Jesus had started their work, the simple proclamation had been, “The time has come, the Kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news.” In this moment, that’s forgiveness.
It’s the weekend. If you have time, read the story yourself.