Friday, June 13, 2014

The Gospel Embedded in Community - Part 1


A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. They gathered in such large numbers that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them. Some men came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, 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 by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” (Mark 2:1-5 NIV)



I’ve loved this story since the first time I read it. One reason is that it’s such an easy one to imagine.
 
Jesus has just returned to Capernaum after being baptized by John and launching his ministry. Word has gotten around, even though he has tried to keep a lid on it.
He’s cast out an evil spirit,
healed a leper,
and his teaching is on target like nothing people have ever heard.

Jesus is such a draw for people that the house where he teaches is filled beyond capacity; people crowd the doorway to listen, trying to catch the good news Jesus has to share.

A minor commotion happens just outside as some men arrive, carrying a paralytic – a man who is unable to walk. They are carrying him on a mat and when they arrive with the intention of bringing him to Jesus they cannot get anywhere near him because of the people. So they climb a set of stairs running up the outside wall and bring their friend up to the roof and open up a hole, lowering him down to the only space left in the small space between Jesua and the listeners. Now causing a major commotion. 

I find something really interesting at this point. You’d think the first thing Jesus would have done is to touch the man and heal himBut he doesn’t. Jesus doesn’t heal the man. He says to him rather“Your sins are forgiven.”

You are called and commissioned to bring yourself and others to Jesus –
not an institution,
not a set of dogmas and doctrines,
and certainly not to a set of rules to follow or else – but to Jesus whose living presence is everywhere to be experienced.
 
Also – and I make no apologies for this – we are bringing people to a church, a living organism that is alive in Christ, a church that is being transformed by the living Christ in our midst.

We are bringing people into a Way of life embedded in community that leads to a life that is alive.