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Tony's Reflection 34
I have always been fascinated by our imperial past. 100 years ago we were at the head of the biggest empire the world has ever seen, spanning just over ¼ of the globe and about ¼ of its population.
India was the “jewel in the imperial crown”. The viceroy of India was prime minister and monarch, all in one. He was not only responsible for the affairs of government, but he had a ceremonial role much like our Queen. Even the ceremonial role was clothed in hard political reality. It wasn’t just about being wined and dined, it was about showing the locals that British rule was alive, resplendent and vigorous.
The viceroy carried all the power and dignity of the British Crown in his presence.
Mark’s biography today
gives us a remarkable story showing Jesus as God’s viceroy here on earth, His unique representative. What characterised Jesus as viceroy? Let’s find out…
Mark shows us Jesus at home. We are used to paparazzi photos of the rich and famous unwinding at home. In Mark, though, we don’t see Jesus at home with his feet up.
Quite the reverse.
Jesus was the ultimate celebrity in his day. Even at home, he didn’t get any relief from the pressure of the crowds who followed him, wherever he went.
What is he doing that draws them to his home? Putting on a spectacular “healing show”, where everyone is cured of every ailment? As we shall see, healing is in the picture, but it is something else that is drawing the crowd to him.
Mark tells us he “preached the word to them”. Bringing God’s message to us is Jesus’ constant and number one priority.
He still has a message for us, today. He brings us that message as we come aside to spend time with him, perhaps reading (especially the Bible) and definitely as we pray. He brings it as we listen to faithful preachers. Bringing the message was a priority for Jesus, as hearing it is, for his followers today.
Something truly memorable happened on this occasion, though. It shows us the most important truth of Jesus’ message.
Imagine the situation.
Jesus is at home in his single-storey house, hemmed in by crowds. Every room is full of people, sat spellbound. Outside, the crowd stretches as far as you can see. He is interrupted by a banging sound up on the roof. Everyone looks up. A tiny hole appears in the ceiling, which becomes larger and larger. Hands are reaching down through the roof and desperately pulling bits of it away. As they peer upwards, they see a stretcher, with a man on it. He is paralysed and his four friends, one holding each corner of the stretcher, lower him down on ropes, so he is right in front of Jesus’ nose.
Jesus isn’t too concerned about the hole in his roof. He looks intently at the man on the stretcher. Everyone strains to hear what he will say… At Jesus’ word the blind have seen, the deaf have heard and the lame started running. You can hear a pin drop as the crowd hold their breath and wait for a spectacular miracle before their very eyes.
Jesus smiles. There is warmth in his eyes and his voice. “Your sins are forgiven…” he gently says.
This is not what anyone expected. This man needs healing, not forgiveness. His friends brought him so he could walk again, not for a religious platitude about sins.
Except this was no platitude. Jesus really was forgiving the man’s sins. Jesus could see his physical needs as well as anyone else. He has a need which is much more pressing, though. His sins need forgiving.
One of the biggest, perhaps the biggest, need we have is for our sins to be forgiven.
Who can forgive sins apart from the God who we have sinned against?
No one, apart from God himself. Or God’s unique representative here on earth.
Jesus announces forgiveness. A ripple goes through the crowd. The religious leaders know he has done something which only God can do. It is outrageous. Can any human being really have the authority to do this?
Jesus reads their minds – something else only God can do. And then he proves to them he really does have the authority to forgive sins. He tells the man to get up and walk. As he gets up from the stretcher, everyone sees that Jesus really does have the power to act for God and forgive sins. How could this man be walking, if Jesus did not come with God’s full power and authority?
The religious leaders smoulder. This is outrageous, but they can’t argue with the miracle. We will see more of the religious establishment later. They will have their day against Jesus. But that is another story.
In the meantime, ponder the miracle you have just seen.
Jesus can forgive sins. Forgiveness of sins is your most pressing need. Have you asked him to forgive yours, today?