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Thomas F. Fischer, M.Div., M.S.A., Editor


The Seventh Sunday After Epiphany
Series B

Option #1: "Friendly Faith, Friendly Savior, Joyful Results"
Mark 2:1-12
Rev. Wayne Dobratz, M.Div.

 
I. Friendly Faith--vv1-4; John 1:45, 4:28-30, 40-42; Matt 7:28-29; 1 Cor 2:4-5

II. Friendly Savior--vv5-9; Mk 6:34; Lk 7:47ff; John 3:14-18, 6:68, 1 John 4:14

III. Joyful Results--text, vv10-12; from the "Son of Man," Dan 7:13-14; Matt 16:13-16; Acts 5:31; 1 Tim 1:15-17

Disciples Study Bible on Miracle, Faith: miracles prove forgiveness is available for people of faith. The faith of five men was involved, those who bore the paralytic and the victim himself. In response to their faith Jesus forgave the man’s sins. Some present cried out "Blasphemy!" Forgiveness is God’s occupation. Through the miracle Jesus showed forgiveness was His occupation. This meant He was God. The healing amazed the many witnesses. Some praised God, thus taking a first step of faith. The final act of faith healed the paralytic: he walked away. All need the miracle of forgiveness.

Holman Bible Handbook: the healing of the paralytic is the scene of the first of five "conflict" stories in 2:1-3:6. Mark likely included these stories and a later five-part collection (11:27-12:37) as a "guidebook" for bold witness to the Jewish community. The people who brought the paralyzed man to Jesus were fulfilling their role as fishers of people. Earlier the crowds had recognized Jesus as one who taught with authority (1:22,27). Here Jesus demonstrated His authority to proclaim God’s forgiveness of sins (2:5). The scribes were experts in the Jewish traditions. They objected to Jesus’ acting the part of God. In contrast, the crowd "glorified God," whose reign was evidenced by Jesus’ offer of relationship ("son," 2:5), forgiveness, and healing.

In 2:10 Jesus identified Himself for the first time as "the Son of Man," an ambiguous designation that can mean simply I or human being. But it also recalls the "supernatural" Son of man to whom God entrusted dominion, glory, and kingship in Daniel 7:13. In Mark, Jesus retained this ambiguity, sometimes using the title in connection with His human experience of suffering and death and sometimes in connection with His future glory.

Charles H. Spurgeon: Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus and, after digging through it, lowered the mat the paralyzed man was lying on. (Mark 2:4)

Faith is full of inventions. The house was full, a crowd blocked up the door, but faith found a way of getting at the Lord and placing the paralyzed man before him. If we cannot get sinners where Jesus is by ordinary methods, we must use extraordinary ones. It seems, according to Luke 5:19, "that a tiling had to be removed," which would make dust and cause a measure of danger to those below; but where the case is very urgent we must not mind running some risks and shocking some proprieties. Jesus was there to heal and, therefore, fall what might, faith ventured all so that her poor paralyzed friend might have his sins forgiven. O that we had more daring faith among us!

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Lamb’s Message: Mark 2:1-12 

Object: Superman picture with Christopher Reeve portraying him

How many good friends do you have right now? 3 or 4? That’s good. Today I want to tell you the story of a man who had 4 very good friends. This man was paralyzed, just as this man (picture) is: this is Christopher Reeve, the man who was Superman in the movies. He fell from his horse and is now paralyzed. Like Christopher Reeve, this man couldn’t get anywhere by himself. His 4 very good friends did the best thing they could do. They took him to Jesus.

A lot of people wanted to get close to Jesus, so this wasn’t going to be easy. They were carrying their friend on a "mat"; we’d call it a stretcher. Listen to what the Bible says: Some men came, bringing to him a paralytic, carried by four of them. Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus and, after digging through it, lowered the mat the paralyzed man was lying on. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "Son, your sins are forgiven."

This paralyzed man had some really good friends! They went to a lot of trouble to get him close to Jesus. Jesus saw their faith, the faith of the paralyzed man and his 4 friends, and the paralyzed man didn’t need to be carried around anymore. Jesus healed him.

Jesus hasn’t changed since that day. But there is no guarantee that we will all be healed. But you can be sure of this: when you get close to Jesus, when you have faith in him as your Savior from sin, your sins are forgiven. That’s what Jesus told this man before He healed him. "Your sins are forgiven." That’s the best thing that could possibly happen! Jesus takes our sins away and we can go to heaven because of Him. In heaven, everything that is wrong with us will be gone forever.

I remember a girl in my confirmation class in Iowa who had a good friend she brought to church with her. Her friend had diabetes. I don’t have time to tell you about that now, but I’ll say this for now: if her illness isn’t controlled, she could get very sick, maybe go blind, or lose a leg, or even die. Her friend did the best thing she could do: she brought her friend close to Jesus, just the way these 4 men did in going through the roof.

Try to find some Christian friends like that and try to be one too--the kind of friend that gets someone close to Jesus!

Rev. Wayne Dobratz

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Option #2: "Delivered, Signed and Sealed!" 
2 Corinthians 1:18-22 
Rev. Kelly Bedard, M.Div.

1. Delivered: God anointed/christened Christ to live and die for us and our salvation

2. Signed: with the "watermark" of Baptism; Christ-ed/anointed with gifts serving salvation

3. Sealed: a Spirit-guaranteed sign that we are owned, protected and inspired by God

Notes:

1. pistos {pis-tos'}, v18: trusty, faithful; of persons who show themselves faithful in the transaction of business, the execution of commands, or the discharge of official duties; one who kept his plighted faith, worthy of trust; that can be relied on; easily persuaded; believing, confiding, trusting; in the NT, one who trusts in God's promises; one who is convinced that Jesus has been raised from the dead; one who has become convinced that Jesus is the Messiah and author of salvation. (Strong's)

2. chrio {khree'-o}, v21: to anoint; consecrating Jesus to the Messianic office, and furnishing him with the necessary powers for its administration; enduing Christians with the gifts of the Holy Spirit. (Strong's)

3. sphragizo {sfrag-id'-zo}, v22: to set a seal upon, mark with a seal, to seal; for security: from Satan; since things sealed up are concealed (as the contents of a letter), to hide, keep in silence, keep secret; in order to mark a person or a thing; to set a mark upon by the impress of a seal or a stamp; angels are said to be sealed by God; in order to prove, confirm, or attest a thing; to confirm authenticate, place beyond doubt; of a written document; to prove one's testimony to a person that he is what he professes to be. (Strong's)

4. arrhabon {ar-hrab-ohn'}, v22: money which in purchases is given as a pledge or downpayment that the full amount will subsequently be paid. (Strong's)

5. Guarantee is another commercial term, meaning deposit, first instalment, and in modern Greek an engagement ring... The Spirit guarantees the believer's security in Christ and the full blessings of salvation. (The New Bible Commentary: Revised)

6. Guarantee. Literally "down payment," which in ancient times was a sizable portion of the whole. (Concordia Self-Study Commentary)

7. We can trace something of the dispute which engages him. Some Corinthians are complaining that Paul failed to stick to his plans and visit them a second time after traveling north (15-17). Instead he had changed his mind. This laid him open to the charge that he could not possibly be a divinely guided apostle, like the others. We saw in previous weeks from 1 Corinthians that they had complained that he did not keep the guidelines of Jesus about getting support from locals, but worked instead. It was probably similar people who now seized on this new failing. Paul can't be very spiritually minded if one moment he says yes and the next he says no.

Instead of defending himself directly Paul simply reasserts that he lives from a gospel where there is certainty: God is certain and clear in the gospel in offering love and acceptance and incorporating us into Christ. One could say that Paul's response does not really answer the objection. At one level this is true, although he starts by recalling the certainty with which he and Timothy proclaimed the gospel in Corinth in the first place. At another he simply shifts ground to what is certain. What is not said is something like this: I don't see a problem in changing my plans because I am seeking to live from the heart of the gospel and what it promises. In doing so I have only one set of rules and that is to be faithful to the God who loves and cares and I will make decisions, including changing plans if need be, in order to allow God to work through me. The only status Paul is concerned about is staying in a good relation to God through Christ and living it out. He is prepared to sacrifice the image of consistency, the status gained by being impressive, the 'super-apostle' persona (see what he says in 11:5!). In fact he sees such values as a contradiction of the gospel.

Paul is very good at helping us keep in contact with what really matters. You can see how important it is to hear what he is saying in 18-22 in the context of his struggle, if it is not to sound like just another embellishment of religious tradition. For Paul it is vital and he uses its images to say something about where he is coming from and invites the Corinthians to do the same (notice the 'us' language beside the 'you' language). (William Loader)

Rev. Kelly Bedard


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This page was revised on: Friday, January 20, 2006 12:10:33 PM