The Healing Really Needed
February 7, 2010
日本キリスト教団 頌栄教会牧師 清弘剛生 Pastor Takao Kiyohiro, Shoei Church, Church of Christ, Japan
Translator M.A.F., Indiana, USA
The People Gathered Seeking For Good News
1. "Several days later, when Jesus came to Capernaum again, as it became widely known that he was in a house and a crowd of people had gathered, it got to the point that there was not a single crack of space left, not even at the doorway," (verses one and two). That's what the text says. What was the mood [at] "the meeting said to be held by Jesus?" It was so tight to the point there was no room, but I'm sure it wasn't [literally] "to the point that there was not a single crack of space left." There were many persons with illnesses there. There were many persons with demon possessions there. This much can be imagined because the events in Capernaum from several days before are given in chapter one, and similar things were also written there beginning in verse thirty-two. "At evening, when the sun set, the people brought to Jesus all the sick and the demon possessed persons. The people from the town had gathered at the doorway," (1:32-33).
2. The people who wanted to be healed gathered where the one who could heal [them was]. It seemed quite appropriate. It seemed quite natural that a bunch of people gathered at the house where Jesus was. But, when we read [the stuff] from before, then what took place [later] that day in the evening seems quite odd to a degree.
3. Let's take a look at what took place just before that. That day was the Sabbath. Jesus entered the synagogue and began to teach. The people there were amazed because Jesus taught as "one having authority." That authority was God's authority. Jesus was filled with God's authority, and was speaking words that had the authority of God. Then an incident took place. A man possessed by unclean spirits cried out, "Jesus of Nazareth, don't mind us! Did you come to destroy us? We know your true nature. You are the holy one of God." Jesus rebuked them, "Silence! Come out of this man!" He rebuked the unclean spirits. Whereupon, the unclean spirits came out. The people witnessed firsthand an astonishing thing that took place. That is, they encountered an event where God's authority and power were manifested for real.
4. Should people ever encounter such a set of circumstances, what kind of response might they show? Typically, if Jews, it would first be fear. If one should come in direct contact with divine authority in that form, typically one would tremble with fear, saying, "I will be destroyed." It is frightening for people when a holy God appears for real because even the prophet Isaiah when he came into contact with the reality of a holy God, cried out, "It's a catastrophe! I will be destroyed!" The people are not thinking God is only just some object for their requests. They know [him as] the Holy God.
5. Therefore, when the authority of God was shown, especially as in this scene in the synagogue on the Sabbath, it is hardly likely that the sick and the demon possessed people simply gathered for a meeting. Nevertheless, people did bring the sick to the place Jesus was. When the authority of God was shown on a real level "in Jesus" the incomparable one, they were not afraid, but brought the sick to him. They brought persons possessed by evil spirits, persons bound by sin, disabled persons who could not control themselves. They brought persons who were suffering. Why did something like this even happen? I doubt it was because through Jesus they had touched a God of judgment, but rather, they must have seen in him the authority and the power of the God of compassion and the God of salvation.
6. Of course, I'm sure it had something to do with what Jesus was teaching. The text has, "He entered the synagogue and began to teach," however, when Jesus taught about "the God who judges the sin of this world," when God's authority was displayed in a real way at that time and place, it surely must have been an awesome and dreadful thing; but yet, in fact, they came to embrace hope in the mercy of God. Thus, when Jesus taught with authority it was, above all other things, because God's salvation had arrived. So, what the people heard must have been that God forgives sin, has compassion for them, and will save them. As it says in chapter one and verse fifteen, "The time is full, the kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the gospel!," what the Lord said in the synagogues must have been an invitation to believe the gospel. Therefore, as we see in the gospel account later, sinners unrelated to sickness and tax collectors as well had gathered around Jesus.
Peeling Off The Roof
7. With that we come to the passage I read to you today. At the meeting several days later in Capernaum, it got to the point that there was not a single crack of space left, not even at the doorway. I am repeating myself, but [it was packed but] not because Jesus was performing miracles of healing. But the real event was the very words from Jesus and the very teachings themselves of Jesus. So, in today's passage too the scripture says, "When Jesus was speaking the word of God," (verse two). The people were hearing the messages from Jesus. As we see in other passages as well, the people would assemble in order to hear his messages. Of course, the sick were certainly healed, yes of course. They probably came in order to be healed. But, even more than that, they wanted to know, they wanted to hear that "You have not been abandoned by God!" God is to me, even to me, a God of compassion, a God of salvation!!! The people wanted to know that. They wanted to hear that. They wanted to encounter the divine authority that brought forgiveness of sin and salvation.
8. It looks to me like the man with the palsy and the four men who appear in today's passage all have the same idea. The man with the palsy was hoping [his] illness would be cured. And so [were] the four men. They were wishing from [their] hearts that the man with the palsy would be cured. We cannot understand how sincere their wish was unless we were them, even still though, their behavior in making a hole in the roof and lowering [him] down was quite extreme. Their request, especially the request of this man with the palsy must have been the most basic; they were seeking an answer to the most basic and fundamental of things. You can't help but think that way about this event [as] it is described here in this text.
9. You can imagine it to a degree. You are living in a society, where under normal circumstances, whenever you get sick, [people] will say, "You're sick because of your sin." I'm sure he had been told the same thing. When you're told it's your sin, various things will be called to mind. The things you've done will be called to mind. Somebody may claim "I'm absolutely innocent," just like Job did, but it most likely is not exactly so. And so, whether it's suffering from sickness or some other suffering, when you get to thinking about God and everything, then you'll surely get to that fundamental question after all. Have I been forsaken by God? Have I been cast away forever? Or, has God forgiven me of my sin and has he had mercy on me? Is God a God of judgment to me, or is he a God of salvation? You can't help but ask these things.
10. Thus, they had come to the house Jesus was in. They wanted to get close to Jesus, the very one who was good news above all else. So, to encounter the God of mercy, the God of salvation, they opened a hole in the roof. No matter what it took, they wanted to participate in Jesus' meeting where he was preaching the gospel, in the meeting where Jesus was giving the word of God. They wanted to participate at the closest point.
11. Jesus saw their faith in their actions. He saw their faith in believing the gospel. Therefore, Jesus proclaimed with divine authority the message that they had wanted to hear the most. "Son, your sins are being forgiven." In Japanese you get the feeling some how or other that, "The time to be forgiven will come several days later," but in this text Jesus is not saying that. He is saying, "Now, in this place, your sins are forgiven." (That's why there is also a manuscript that puts this phrase in the past tense, "Your sins have been forgiven.") Then both the man with the palsy and the four men who brought him encountered the God of mercy and the God of salvation. Indeed, the people, who gathered at that meeting, had also encountered the God of mercy and the God of salvation at that time and place.
Which Is Easier?
12. However, we could say that it was Jesus who knew in the true sense the gravity of this pronouncement that "Your sins are forgiven." Jesus said to the scribes of the law who were there, "Which is easier to say to the man with the palsy, to say, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Get up, carry your bedroll and walk!'?," (verse nine). Then Jesus said, "I will have you know that the son of man has the authority to forgive sin on this earth," and then he announced to the man with the palsy, "I say to you. Get up, carry your bed and go back home!" Whereupon, the man got up, and right away he carried his bed roll and left in front of everyone as they looked at him. The people were amazed. Even the scribes of the law were amazed. But, to Jesus it was easier to say, "Get up, carry your bedroll and walk!" Jesus had understood it clearly. [He understood clearly] that the statement "Your sins are forgiven" was much much more serious and grave than the statement over the miracle in healing the sickness. The Lord knew that [the words regarding forgiveness of sin] were words that one could not say easily.
13. What would happen should he say them? What kind of sacrifice must he himself pay? The Lord knew exactly what. With divine authority Jesus proclaimed forgiveness of sin. But he knew. [He knew] that because God is a God of forgiveness, in order to grant forgiveness of sin to this world, he is also a God who will put his only son on the cross as the atonement for sin. Jesus proclaims the forgiveness of sin as the only son to live in that God's will, as the only son of God to atone for sin.
14. We gather each week around this kind of Jesus. It is precisely because of Him that we are not encountering a God of judgment but the God of salvation. It is precisely because we are [gathering] around the Christ, and at his cross, and because we are in this place receiving Christ's torn body and shed blood, that we can continue to live in God's mercy and live with hope everywhere we go. In him indeed all of us have the healing we need, something far more than what this world calls "healing," the deepest and most fundamental healing.