Finally, I’m back with St Mark!
In which a paralysed man is brought to Jesus. Jesus pronounces that his sins are forgiven, and then seeing the stir that this causes, he heals the man, to demonstrate his authority.
Brian Stoffregen writes notes on Bible Passages that I find very helpful. crossmarks.com
In his notes on Mark Chapter 2, he writes that what is offensive about Jesus, as far as the Pharisees are concerned, is not just that Jesus forgives sin, but who it is that receives the forgiveness here – a paralytic. The paralysed man would have been considered unclean, possibly suffering his fate through sins that he, or his parents had committed. What right has Jesus got to pronounce forgiveness on THIS MAN. He is beyond the pale.
The healing takes place after the healing of a leper (another outcast) and is followed by the calling of Levi, a tax collector, and another outcast. Jesus then parties with Levi and his friends – described as ‘tax collectors and sinners’ – more outcasts.
This apporach of Jesus just does not fit in with the way that the Pharisees do things. The two are incompatible – Jesus’ way and their way. Hence Jesus responds to their criticism by giving pictures of what happens when two incompatible things come together: new wine and old skins; new patches and old cloth.
They are so incompatible that there is bound to be a problem when the two worlds collide. Jesus hints at what he sees to be the inevitable result for him. (When the bridegroom is taken away … is the time for fasting)
How often in an intense conflict or disagreement do the warring factions demonise the other, or regard them as beyond the pale ? We sometimes (often ?) have difficulty relating to others who are so different to ourselves. Their whole value system and way of operating seems at odds with our way. This is how the Pharisees must have viewed Jesus. He is just TOO different.
Today we visited Manassas Battlefield and learned something of one of the very early conflicts in the American Civil War. After the conflict, which was eventually ‘won’ by the North, the federal government made provision for the cost of burials and memorials for the Union dead, but it would be many years before those on the Confederate side had the same treatment. Not surprisingly, for many years, the bitterness and mistrust remained, and the cost of burying the Confederate dead had to be borne by private funds.
Tomorrow I begin my Biblical Foundations for Peacemaking, and if I have learned one thing in the last 10 days in Virginia, it is that conflict is all around us, and the world desperately needs the insights and skills of those working for peace with justice.