Lesson 1: Healer
Before studying Jesus’ ministry of healing this week, remember that Jesus believes his teaching on submitting to God’s reign on earth is more important than performing physical healing. Jesus heals as a way to point people toward that good news. This idea helps answer the question of why he stops healing toward the end of his ministry.
Devotion: Read Mark 2:1-12. Jesus returns home in order to teach, and he draws a large crowd. A demonstration of faith moves him to pronounce forgiveness. The religious leaders’ negative reaction then leads him to heal the man so the leaders will “know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” Jesus heals as a way to establish his role and authenticate his teaching. Healing always invites us to something more: an increased faith, a call to submission, a new understanding of God’s activity on earth, etc. Who demonstrates faith in this story? How is that faith expressed? How do you think the homeowner feels? What does this teach us about what it means to be a friend? Who is supposed to learn from the healing? Is the “kingdom” lesson sometimes for someone other than the person being healed? How is this story like a microcosm of Jesus’ entire ministry?
Personal Worship Option: Read Isaiah 53:3-5. You are not alone in your sufferings. God understands pain and affliction. For many years the Church taught that when we bear pain with faith and trust, we discover a deeper connection with Jesus than we might normally have. Call or visit someone who suffers physically, then spend time afterward aware of God’s presence.
Dig A Little Deeper:
This story is actually the first of five passages where Jesus faces controversy over his authority. Read Mark 2:13-3:6, noticing how these passages build on one another.
2:1 Jesus has moved from Nazareth to Capernaum, another northern town on the coast of the Sea of Galilee. Some suggest the events that follow occur in Jesus’ own home. How does that change your interpretation of his response to a hole in the roof?
2:4 Palestinian roofs in this era are flat, made of clay and straw on wooden rafters. “Digging through” is not an everyday act. How is this action related to faith? How is faith displayed?
2:5 “Faith” cannot yet mean belief in Jesus’ resurrection or divinity. For these people, it means receptivity to God’s presence and power in Jesus. Does it mean the same after the resurrection?
2:7 Blasphemy is any language that slanders God or damages people’s opinion of God. Compare this to Mark 14:60-64. What language do you use that might fail to give God glory or damages someone else’s opinion of God? Can a tone of voice be blasphemous?
2:10 Jesus claims equality with God, who alone forgives sin. The term “Son of Man” is taken from Daniel 7:11-13, where it refers to a representative of God’s people facing opposition from evil. In Daniel, God vindicates and gives authority to the Son of Man.
2:11 How does our view of God change if we see all healing (small wounds, infections, etc.) as a sign God has power to forgive sin and bring spiritual wholeness?
2:12 What must be in place in our life so we move from amazement at God’s activity to believing Jesus has authority to forgive sin?