Outer healing as a sign of inner healing power

Posted Feb 21, 2018

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Daily Scripture

Mark 1:40-2:12

40 A man with a skin disease approached Jesus, fell to his knees, and begged, “If you want, you can make me clean.”

41 Incensed [or filled with compassion], Jesus reached out his hand, touched him, and said, “I do want to. Be clean.” 42 Instantly, the skin disease left him, and he was clean. 43 Sternly, Jesus sent him away, 44 saying, “Don’t say anything to anyone. Instead, go and show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifice for your cleansing that Moses commanded. This will be a testimony to them.” 45 Instead, he went out and started talking freely and spreading the news so that Jesus wasn’t able to enter a town openly. He remained outside in deserted places, but people came to him from everywhere.

2:1 After a few days, Jesus went back to Capernaum, and people heard that he was at home. 2 So many gathered that there was no longer space, not even near the door. Jesus was speaking the word to them. 3 Some people arrived, and four of them were bringing to him a man who was paralyzed. 4 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. 5 When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Child, your sins are forgiven!”

6 Some legal experts were sitting there, muttering among themselves, 7 “Why does he speak this way? He’s insulting God. Only the one God can forgive sins.”

8 Jesus immediately recognized what they were discussing, and he said to them, “Why do you fill your minds with these questions? 9 Which is easier—to say to a paralyzed person, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take up your bed, and walk’? 10 But so you will know that the Human One [or Son of Man] has authority on the earth to forgive sins”—he said to the man who was paralyzed, 11 “Get up, take your mat, and go home.”

12 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!”

Reflection Questions

In Jesus' day, a “leper” had one of a variety of visible skin diseases. People thought such people were highly contagious, so they feared and shunned them—but Jesus didn’t. Homes excavated in Capernaum show room for maybe 50 people in the “living room.” Four men tried to bring their sick friend to Jesus on a stretcher, but the room was full. They got creative! Most houses then had an outer staircase to a roof made of branches and rushes laid over beams and covered with dried mud. They climbed up, dug through, and lowered their friend to Jesus.

  • Jesus' healing power was most visible when crippled people got up and walked. But Jesus, knowing physical healing wouldn’t last forever, linked it to eternal issues. Would it have surprised you to hear Jesus say to the crippled man lowered through the roof, “Your sins are forgiven”? What does Jesus' choice of remedy suggest to you about his “diagnosis”? What connection(s) might exist between forgiving sins and physical healing?
  • The man would have stayed paralyzed without his four friends’ energetic, creative caring. When was the last time you were able to be a “stretcher bearer” for someone else? Who has been a “stretcher bearer” for you? How determined and creative are you willing to be to bring Christ’s help to someone you know who needs it?

Prayer

Lord Jesus, thank you for caring about the well-being of my body and my inner self. Help me to live each day in the beautiful reality of your forgiving, restoring grace. Amen.

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Dr. Amy Oden

Dr. Amy Oden

Dr. Amy Oden is Professor of Early Church History and Spirituality, teaching at several seminaries. Teaching is her calling, and she looks forward to every day with students. Her latest book (Right Here, Right Now: The Practice of Christian Mindfulness, Abingdon Press, 2017) traces ancient mindfulness practice for Christians today.

Ever notice how concerned Jesus is with bodies? He never says to someone, “Your physical suffering isn’t important because your spirit is all God cares about” or “Oh, don’t worry about your physical well-being, just focus on your spiritual life.”

Jesus takes bodies seriously. In fact, Jesus is “Word made flesh,” himself a divine endorsement of bodies. Have you listened to your body lately? What does your body tell you today? What holy truth might your body carry?

I know that when I ignore my body, I miss out on some important information about how God is working in my life. For example, I’ve noticed that my body gets tense in certain situations, my shoulders and neck tighten up. That’s my body trying to get me to pay attention to the discomfort I feel and address it. God is calling me to be honest with myself about those relationships and why I’m uncomfortable.

The gospel of Mark is full of Jesus addressing people in their fullness--bodies and souls, minds and hearts. All of it matters. All of it needs to be healed. Try this simple practice today:

·        pause and listen to your body now
·        What does it tell you?
·        Invite Jesus to listen with you.
·        What does Jesus say?

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