After a few days, Jesus went back to Capernaum, and people heard that he was at home. So many gathered that there was no longer space, not even near the door. Jesus was speaking the word to them. Some people arrived, and four of them were bringing to him a man who was paralyzed. They couldn’t carry him through the crowd, so they tore off part of the roof above where Jesus was. When they had made an opening, they lowered the mat on which the paralyzed man was lying. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Child, your sins are forgiven!”
Some legal experts were sitting there, muttering among themselves, “Why does he speak this way? He’s insulting God. Only the one God can forgive sins.”
Jesus immediately recognized what they were discussing, and he said to them, “Why do you fill your minds with these questions? Which is easier—to say to a paralyzed person, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take up your bed, and walk’? But so you will know that the Human One has authority on the earth to forgive sins”—he said to the man who was paralyzed, “Get up, take your mat, and go home.”
Jesus raised him up, and right away he picked up his mat and walked out in front of everybody. They were all amazed and praised God, saying, “We’ve never seen anything like this!”
As we saw yesterday, Jesus was “incensed” at how people were being treated, specifically by the religious elite. In the passage before us today, we see the same thing happening.
The religious elite, the keepers of the Empirical Religious Business model of his day, were offended that Jesus forgave the this man’s sins. But, notice they hide the offence by saying that “only the one God can forgive sins.” All the while, they know that their religious system has been given the power to forgive sins! So, the underlying issue is not that Jesus forgave the man’s sins. The issue is that he did it outside the “accepted” way of doing it. In that subtle way, he was bringing their power and authority into question.
In front of everyone.
If G_d can forgive sins through people outside the established religious system, the question that comes rushing to the fore is, “Why do we need religious systems?”
As I’ve stated elsewhere, the ushering in of G_d’s Realm is the “death knell” for religious systems. If G_d is forgiving and healing and rescuing and reconciling people and creation “in the streets,” what’s the point of going to “church” or “temple” or “synagogue” seeking those things?
In a very familiar story, Jesus told Photine (the woman at the well) that the time had come when going to a holy place to worship G_d was no longer needed. The only thing G_d was seeking was people who worship in “spirit and truth.”
And G_d is still seeking this even today.
That’s what’s happening in the story before us. The religious system was being confronted with G_d “new way” of doing things - in public, for all to see and witness and participate in. And they didn’t like it. It meant that their time was over. Their power was waning.
May our “doing” The Way of Jesus be done in public for all to see. May our doing and being Christ be a challenge to those systems of oppression. Let them know that G_d is not contained within their “sacred” walls but in the sacredness of people and all creation.
In the Love of the Three in One,
Br. Jack+, LC