25 Dec

By Rick McVicar            

      The second chapter of Mark begins with Jesus preaching to a party at his house in Capernaum. While he is preaching, four men carry a paralyzed man to the roof so the man can be lowered through the crowd to the floor in front ot Jesus (1:1-12. NRSV).             

     No, nothing is said of a party, but there are so many people that there is no room left, “even in front of the door” (1:2, NRSV).             

    This appears rather odd. Why would Jesus stay inside? Why would he not take the crowd outdoors, perhaps to preach from his porch? Is something wrong with the outdoors?    

Animated boot smiles and waves in front of house.

                                             Click on image to go to YouTube video.

     Here we have Mark’s hatred of nature raising its ugly head. The crowd stays inside, even though the weather must not be bad. After all, four men carry a man to the roof, along with his mat. There must not have been any rain or wind to impede their climb. In using this story, the writer clearly demonstrates a disdain for what might be found outdoors. If it is not the weather, then what is it? Are there wild beasts from the wilderness following Jesus after he struggles with Satan’s temptations (1:3. NRSV)? Are there demons outside Jesus’ door? 

     Returning to the text, Mark does not provide an answer. All we can know is that Jesus had to keep the crowd inside for some unknown reason. Just what are they hiding from? 

     After the paralyzed man is lowered to the floor, Jesus both forgives and heals the man, who is then able to stand up and walk. Interestingly, the healing does not surprise anyone. No, instead the scribes are shocked at Jesus’ forgiveness. I kind of am too. Why would someone look at a disabled man and immediately say, “You are forgiven?” That seems kind of insensitive, as if telling the man he is responsible for his disability.  

     Here we have an interesting view of nature. Nature’s dysfunction is somebody’s fault. In this gospel story, the paralyzed man is responsible for his paralysis. In our current situation, humans are responsible for climate change, which has paralyzed earth and all living things upon it. We need forgiveness as well as healing for humans as a species to survive. 

     At the end of the story, after the paralyzed man stands up, Jesus tells him to go home. The ending is as odd as the beginning. Jesus does not tell the man to stick around and enjoy the party. No, instead Jesus gives the man the boot. He is told to go out into the outdoors. 

     Maybe Jesus is saying that after the forgiveness and healing, nature will be safe. Not only can the man walk, but he will be able to walk home without fear.  

A tall red leafy tree.

                                              Click on image to go to YouTube channel.

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