Not Avoiding Conflict At All Costs

Mark tells us of a man with bold problems.

He is a troubled fellow with a most serious physical disability. He is paralyzed and has lost the use of his limbs. He cannot transport himself about. In order to go from one place to another, he must be carried by friends.

He must surely have financial issues as well. He cannot go to work and earn his own living. He is forced to receive alms from others. Additionally, he cannot help provide for his aging parents. And if he happens to be married and have children, think of the family needs to which he cannot contribute.

He also struggles relationally. He cannot hangout with friends in the town square. If he is single, perhaps this is a contributing reason. And if married, consider the pain of not being able to enjoy the bliss of physical union. Lonliness is a constant companion of this troubled man.

He also has worship difficulties. His physical condition limits his ability to attend and express himself in corporate worship. Unlike his Hebrew neighbors, he is not able to march towards Jerusalem and ascend the holy hill. He is not able to climb the steps, walk into the Temple, and fall on his knees. He cannot carry in his sacrifice and offering. Neither can he clap and dance to the Psalms.

With all of this comes emotional struggles as well. His sense of manhood has been assaulted, and his heart is consistently heavy over his lot in life. He is one who has had big dreams. He has longed for healing and restoration, but the God of miracles has not seemed inclined to help. Therefore, he lies, day after day, in his misery.

However, this is not the extent of his misery. He is one spiritually troubled and in great danger. You see, as cursed and frail as his body is, it is not near as cursed and fallen as is his heart. A terrible nature has been dealt to him at conception. He has been thoroughly affected by the original sin of Adam, and this disease has been passed along to him by his parents. He has been born a rebel, and he has proven this by practicing sin after sin. Tragically, his righteousness record started in default, and each day he has only made matters worse. His righteousness deficit has grown and grown and grown. He knows the Law, but he cannot keep it. Truthfully, he does not want to keep all the Law all the time. Therefore, he cannot and does not please his Creator. He cannot and does not love his neighbor. He is physically disabled, spiritually deprave, and the Lake of Fire is over the horizon.

Yet, there is hope. There is good news, for this troubled man has a bold Savior and bold friends. They are not seeking conflict, but neither are they avoiding it at all costs. Read the Gospel account below and notice their bold, evangelistic zeal:

And when he [Jesus] returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. And many were gathered together, so that there was no more room, not even at the door. And he was preaching the word to them. And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him, and when they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, “Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” And immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to them, “Why do you question these things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the paralytic— “I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.” And he rose and immediately picked up his bed and went out before them all, so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!”     (Mark 2:1-13)

Mark tells of a man with bold friends.

His friends have some degree of faith. They prove they believe Jesus can aid their friend.

In addition, his friends have a pretty strong work ethic. They show this by their willingness to carry their neighbor to the house where Jesus is ministering.

However, once there, they prove their willingness to be relentless, shrewd, creative, bold, and daring in putting their friend in front of the Miracle Worker. They risk offending those who have stood in line to get the best seats in the house. They risk offending the scribes who are always watching, criticizing, and taking notes. For sure they risk angering the home owner who appreciates not his roof being taken apart. In addition, they even risk disturbing the Teacher who, if he were like other ministers, does not appreciate someone interrupting his sermon. However, these brazen men of faith do whatever they must to get their friend — who cannot help himself — before the One who can help. They get their disabled and depraved brother before the One who does the impossible.

Mark tells of a man with a bold Savior.

Jesus sees the need of the disabled man.

He sees the faith of his fellows.

However, Jesus also sees the arrogant skepticism and disbelief of the Pharisees. He reads their hearts like an open book. Jesus can heal the man’s ailment publicly and address his heart privately, but the Teacher is not willing to do so. He is not willing to do so for the sake of the man, his friends, the Twelve, and the watching community. Therefore, Jesus boldly proclaims his divine status to forgive sins. The Son identifies himself as the Holy Judge — the only one with authority to declare sacred pardon. Jesus then proves the validity of his declaration by miraculously healing the paralyzed man.

In doing so, Jesus causes great conflict, and Mark presents him doing so over and over again:

  • Mark 2:7     They do not approve of his forgiving sins
  • Mark 2:16     They do not approve of his sinful companions
  • Mark 2:18     They do not approve of his lack of fasting
  • Mark 2:24     They do not approve of his Sabbath feeding
  • Mark 3:2     They do not approve of his Sabbath healing

However, by the end of the day, because Jesus and the fellows are so bold, a man is perfectly saved, he is physically healed, a family trajectory is transformed, the Twelve are emboldened, and the neighborhood is enlightened. Sure, Pharisees are greatly bothered, troubled, and offended. The religious practice of Jesus and the fellows has caused great conflict, but God is pleased, and it is all worth it.

Can I be bold and introduce you to my bold Savior?

Sick and wounded sinner, Jesus is before you now. Even as you read this devotional blog, he can save your soul and you can enter into communion with him. Struggling believer, he is before you again with healing balm. He loves you and longs for you to experience afresh the delight of intimate fellowship with him. He has come near. He has come to your town. He is in your house or office right now. Today, he may not determined to heal your body, but soul restoration is promised to all who desire such. He has promised to always comfort and forgive those who cry out to him. Therefore, by means of this blog, I have sought to be a bit bold and bring hm to your mind; I have brought him very nigh. Why lie there in your wicked misery any longer? Why be hopeless for even one more minute? Right now, you too can rejoice in the undeserved grace and power of the Savior. Prodigal sinner, you can enjoy the Gospel again; preach it to yourself, repent, and recover. All of you, talk to him now. Enjoy his healing touch and declaration. Confess your wretched misery and be freshly washed by his Holy Spirit. Jesus still helps those who cannot help themselves.  Selah …

Can you be bold and introduce men to your bold Savior?

Then, healed and happy believers, get up from your beds and befriend your neighbors. Exercise your faith and go to work. Use your muscle and bring disabled and depraved friends to the Great Physician. Bring them to the house you own and share his Gospel over a meal. Then, bring them to the house wherein you meet for your small groups; allow them to meet other members of the household of faith. Then, bring your troubled friends to his house (your church), and let them see your worship. There they can meet him in his Word, prayer, song, sacraments, and the communion of saints. Consider what may happen if you were more bold and zealous as men and women of faith. Take some chances; risk your comfort. There is no reason to strive to cause conflict, but why seek to avoid it at all costs? You and your ministers talk about being “relentlessly evangelistic.” You and your elders speak of having “a great commitment to the Great Commandment and the Great Commission.” You all pronounce loudly your commitment to “going into all the world and making disciples.” Well, don’t just proclaim it; do it! Go into the world and spread the Gospel, but start with your own neighborhood. Be bold and zealous, and perhaps by the end of this week, you will cause conflict. But perhaps, by the end of this week, people in your neighborhood will be saying, “Wow! We’ve never seen anything like this!”

 

 

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