by Neil Bergmann
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When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven’ (Mark 2:5).
Read Mark 2:1–12
As outlined in yesterday’s devotion, a key part of Jesus’ earthly ministry was proclaiming the kingdom of God. In today’s reading, a crowd had gathered around Jesus, and ‘he preached the word to them’ (verse 2). But some were desperate for more than words – they wanted healing for a paralysed man, and the only way they could get close was to go through the roof. They had faith that Jesus would heal their friend if they could just get to him.
Jesus then does two remarkable things. Based on the faith of his friends, the paralytic is told that his sins are forgiven, and then, secondly, his paralysis is healed. The things that Jesus has done and the things that the visitors have done proclaim the kingdom of God.
The kingdom needs the good news to be proclaimed in words, especially the good news that Jesus is king of heaven and earth. It is a kingdom of forgiveness, where sin is no longer a barrier between humanity and God. In Jesus’ time, many probably thought that the paralytic was cursed by God because of some sins committed by himself or his parents. Jesus’ declaration of forgiveness is an invitation that all are welcome in his new kingdom.
The kingdom is a place of healing where the hungry are fed, the naked are clothed, the homeless are housed, and the refugees are welcomed. It is also a kingdom of faith. The Holy Spirit grants us faith to believe that a better place exists already here on earth and to choose to live in that kingdom.
Personally, I know that my eternal destiny with Christ is assured. Jesus has already done everything needed for my salvation. However, I find that living in the kingdom here on earth is much harder. It is very easy to choose to live in the kingdom of the world, looking after my own interests first and ignoring the cries of a hurting world.
King Jesus, thank you for the forgiveness that welcomes me into your new kingdom. Please grant me the faith and courage to always choose to live in that kingdom. Amen.
Neil Bergmann is currently the chair of Lutheran Earth Care Australia and New Zealand. A retired computer engineer, he worships at Our Saviour Lutheran Church, Rochedale, Queensland. He enjoys reading, cooking and spending time with his family.