“Mustard seed,” “grain of sand,” “twinkle in the eye” are all sayings for something very small that feels more like a distant hope than a present faith. The man with the unclean spirit did not appear to be looking to be healed. The woman with a fever was not going to a healing service. We hear nothing of her faith. Only the masses coming to the door of the rumor they have heard in town about a man doing the remarkable presents a glimmer of hope. The leper also presents a conditional cry, “If you are willing.” The next story in Mark, chapter two, has Jesus back in his “hometown” of Capernaum, in a house crammed with people asking him questions and who are skeptical. Four men bring their paralyzed friend and cannot get close. They climb up to the flat roof where grains are dried, dig through the ceiling, and lower their friend to lie before Jesus. That was a lot of work for those four men. That was a lot of disruption to the meeting. The first recorded words come from Jesus to the man, “Son your sins are forgiven.” Now that is a mouth full and the onlookers question – as do we.
So far the people healed are the victims – of evil spirits, of illness, of associating with dirt to “catch” leprosy. But now Jesus implies that illness can result from my own sin. Ouch. But even more surprising is that Jesus does not call for repentance, does not have the man list his sin before others, and acts as “the Son of Man.” Sometimes my faith is a glimmer of hope like the leper but often I wallow in despair on my mat, defeated by my own self-incriminations. Being in the presence of Christ, supported by faithful friends, and then hearing that my sins are forgiven leads to being able to “take up my mat and walk.” Healing does not come from the amount of faith I have but comes from the Son of Man who has power over evil. The power is not within me but within Christ.
Today we may be fighting despair and feel hopeless or we may be the friends holding up someone else or perhaps we are the one questioning in the room. In any case, there is hope for Jesus sees and acts to relieve our sins, our doubts, and honor our friendships. Thank you Lord.