List the ways in which God is ‘bigger’ than you and anyone or anything else. And then worship him for the ‘big’ God that he is!
Today’s passage is the start of a separate section in Mark’s Gospel(2:1-3:6), describing five incidents where Jesus comes into conflict with the religious leadership. Those who would have been expected to recognize and welcome him were rapidly moving into direct opposition. Their motives for this are unclear. It seems to be a combination of jealousy and feeling threatened by his popularity, deep concern about what they saw as his blasphemous claims, and prejudice about his background. Whenever Jesus went he evoked strong responses from people–either for or against him–and we see as Mark’s account progresses how Jesus doing good in God’s name increasingly met criticism, resentment, or outright opposition from those who should have known better.
Mind you, Jesus’ words would have sounded outrageous to the Pharisees, or at the very least have been profoundly bewildering. This situation had for them deep theological roots. No one but God can forgive sins, yet this person from an insignificant background stood there proclaiming forgiveness of sins over a paralyzed man. His authority to do this is then seemingly authenticated by the man being fully healed. In addition, Jesus’ reference to himself with the Messianic title of ‘Son of Man’ would have made matters much worse in their eyes. There was no middle way or third option:either he was God, or he was a blasphemer. Part of their problem was their view of God. Their view was incomplete and their minds largely closed, with God reduced to the size of their expectations. Anything that threatened those views and their status as guardians of them was to be resisted at all costs. Sound familiar at all?
Pray for leaders of churches and Christian organisations for faith to risk trusting God to be and do more than they expect. Pray for yourself too.