Looking for the most helpful speed.

I’ve read Matthew and Mark and Luke and John. I know where the story they are telling goes. I live in the implications of ways that story informs Paul’s story informs the next centuries.

It’s easy to leap from the guys opening a hole in a roof to “and that’s why we need four friends” or “Who are you carrying to Jesus?” or even “forgiveness is more significant than healing (since it lasts longer).”

Because I leap from particular facts to conclusions.

So do you.

Which makes it really hard for me to slow down my writing and thinking and go back to what Mark is doing.

Mark is telling us small stories about Jesus, with a bit of context and a clear quote, that are building a picture of who he is and what kind of person he is. The story of the man being lowered through the roof is one of five of those stories. Man through roof, party at Levi’s house, new wineskins, picking grain, man with a shriveled hand.

I list those phrases and some of you can tell the whole story. If I quoted the Jesus line, more of us would say, “Yep, I’ve heard that.”

What they have in common is that after a first series of stories talking about Jesus’ authority, these give us pictures of that authority being challenged. In fact, by the end of these five stories, two groups of people, will begin to find ways to kill him. And the common people will continue to flock to him. And he’ll pick the team that will learn from him.

I’m torn. I ask myself, “Do I want to unpack the stories slowly or do I want to fly over and watch the picture of Jesus unfold more quickly?” Each way matters.


On March 2, Lent starts. Lent For Non-Lent People is a seven-week guide to learning to listen for God. In this short book, pastor and social media chaplain Jon Swanson helps readers use the season of Lent to learn to focus on God.