A group of friends dig through a roof to get a paralyzed man into Jesus’s presence, in Mark 2:1-12, the text we are studying for Sunday, January 17. [Some notes on the text are here.] Here are some questions we might want to consider or discuss in class:
Verse 5, the narrator tells us that “Jesus saw their faith.” What do we think this means; that is, how did Jesus see their faith? Why do we think that?
How do we ourselves see people’s faith? How do we think other people see our faith? How is this the same as what Jesus was doing? How different, do we think?
[Maybe more theoretical] What does this mean, do we think, about the relationship of actions to what people believe? Do actions always show what people genuinely believe, whether or not that’s the same as what they say they believe, do we think? Why do we think that?
Jesus’s first words to the paralyzed man are “your sins are forgiven.” Do we think this was what the man or his friends expected? What they wanted? Why, or why not?
[More personal] If we were in the man’s position, which would we rather hear: “your sins are forgiven” or “take up your mat and go to your home”? Or does it depend? And if “it depends,” what does it depend on?
What was Jesus doing here, do we think? Was he missing the point? Was he making a point? If he was making a point, what point was it? What makes us think this?
[More personal] What thoughts and feelings come up as we think about these questions? Does this tell us anything about ourselves? What?
What is the scribes’ problem with Jesus’s declaration of forgiveness? Do we think they are making a mistake? What’s their mistake? Why do they make it, do we think?
Do people we know (or, do we) ever make the same kind of mistake the scribes are making here? How would we describe that kind of mistake? When do we make mistakes like that? About what kinds of things? Could we avoid that, do we think? How?
How would we answer the question Jesus poses to the scribes? (“Which is easier?”) Why?
[More theological] How do we ourselves understand the forgiveness of sins? Healing? Who does those things, do we think? Why do we think that (for instance, because of things we have learned at church, because of things we have read in the Bible, something else)?
[More personal] What difference does it make how we answer these questions, do we think? For ourselves? For others?
There’s a lot going on in this text. We could also think about what the text tells us about Jesus’s identity, and authority, and then about what that means for us now; or about the relationship of faith – and demonstrations of faith – to forgiveness, or healing, or both; or what it means to be a friend; or the way Jesus taught – as in, was this a kind of teaching? And if so, what was Jesus teaching? We might wonder whether the man’s illness – paralysis, which meant he couldn’t come to Jesus on his own – is specifically important for this story, in which the theme of “forgiveness of sins” plays such a large role. We might even want to think about the role of the church, as the Body of Christ, in forgiveness, or healing, or both. Other thoughts?
Image: “Der Plausch am Weg,” [Chat on the Way] Oswald Achenbach, [public domain], via Wikimedia Commons