Second Sunday of Lent
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2:1 And when he returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home.
2 And many were gathered together, so that there was no longer room for them, not even about the door; and he was preaching the word to them.
3 And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men.
4 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 pallet on which the paralytic lay.
5 And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "My son, your sins are forgiven."
6 Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts,
7 "Why does this man speak thus? It is blasphemy! Who can forgive sins but God alone?"
8 And immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to them, "Why do you question thus in your hearts?
9 Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Rise, take up your pallet and walk'?
10 But that you may know that the Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins" -- he said to the paralytic--
11 "I say to you, rise, take up your pallet and go home."
12 And he rose, and immediately took up the pallet and went out before them all; so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, "We never saw anything like this!"
1 ΚΑΙ εἰσῆλθε πάλιν εἰς Καπερναοὺμ δι᾿ ἡμερῶν καὶ ἠκούσθη ὅτι εἰς οἶκόν ἐστι.
2 καὶ εὐθέως συνήχθησαν πολλοί, ὥστε μηκέτι χωρεῖν μηδὲ τὰ πρὸς τὴν θύραν· καὶ ἐλάλει αὐτοῖς τὸν λόγον.
3 καὶ ἔρχονται πρὸς αὐτὸν παραλυτικὸν φέροντες, αἰρόμενον ὑπὸ τεσσάρων.
4 καὶ μὴ δυνάμενοι προσεγγίσαι αὐτῷ διὰ τὸν ὄχλον, ἀπεστέγασαν τὴν στέγην ὅπου ἦν, καὶ ἐξορύξαντες χαλῶσι τὸν κράβαττον, ἐφ᾿ ᾧ ὁ παραλυτικὸς κατέκειτο.
5 ἰδὼν δὲ ὁ Ἰησοῦς τὴν πίστιν αὐτῶν λέγει τῷ παραλυτικῷ· τέκνον, ἀφέωνταί σοι αἱ ἁμαρτίαι σου.
6 ἦσαν δέ τινες τῶν γραμματέων ἐκεῖ καθήμενοι καὶ διαλογιζόμενοι ἐν ταῖς καρδίαις αὐτῶν·
7 τί οὗτος οὕτω λαλεῖ βλασφημίας; τίς δύναται ἀφιέναι ἁμαρτίας εἰ μὴ εἷς ὁ Θεός;
8 καὶ εὐθέως ἐπιγνοὺς ὁ Ἰησοῦς τῷ πνεύματι αὐτοῦ ὅτι οὕτως αὐτοὶ διαλογίζονται ἐν ἑαυτοῖς, εἶπεν αὐτοῖς· τί ταῦτα διαλογίζεσθε ἐν ταῖς καρδίαις ὑμῶν;
9 τί ἐστιν εὐκοπώτερον, εἰπεῖν τῷ παραλυτικῷ, ἀφέωνταί σου αἱ ἁμαρτίαι, ἢ εἰπεῖν, ἔγειρε καὶ ἆρον τὸν κράβαττόν σου καὶ περιπάτει;
10 ἵνα δὲ εἰδῆτε ὅτι ἐξουσίαν ἔχει ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ἀφιέναι ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς ἁμαρτίας —λέγει τῷ παραλυτικῷ.
11 σοὶ λέγω, ἔγειρε καὶ ἆρον τὸν κράβαττόν σου καὶ ὕπαγε εἰς τὸν οἶκόν σου.
12 καὶ ἠγέρθη εὐθέως, καὶ ἄρας τὸν κράβαττον ἐξῆλθεν ἐναντίον πάντων, ὥστε ἐξίστασθαι πάντας καὶ δοξάζειν τὸν Θεὸν λέγοντας ὅτι οὐδέποτε οὕτως εἴδομεν.
Larger Thought Unit
The larger unit for this reading seems to be Mark 1:14-3:12. After the baptism of Christ and his sojourn in the wilderness, Christ begins his ministry by announcing the kingdom of God and calling disciples. In 1:21, the scene shifts to Capernaum on a Sabbath day in the local synagogue where Christ will heal a man with an unclean spirit. The section ends with a similar scene in 3:1-12, where Christ is again in a synagogue on the Sabbath and heals a man with a withered hand. The entire unit is marked by controversy and tension between Christ and his disciples on one hand, and the scribes and Pharisees on the other. When one looks closely, the hostility begins slowly in the reading today with the religious authorities ‘questioning in their hearts’ Christ’s behavior and teaching. By the end of the unit (3:6), they have left the synagogue and are plotting with the Herodians on how they might destroy him. One can see here in Mark’s gospel that the stories are more condensed and, by the third chapter, the stage has been set for the final events of Jerusalem and Christ’s crucifixion.
Just as the ‘son of man’ Ezekiel, although a priest (Ezek 1:3), preached God’s word not in the temple, but outside it in Babylon, here also the ‘Son of man’ Jesus preaches God’s word in an undetermined ‘house’ (RSV is misleading in that it translates εἰς οἶκόν as ‘at home.’) This is a clear reference to the house-churches of Paul: wherever God’s word is proclaimed, there God resides. Consequently, one does not need to go to the Jerusalem temple to be healed from one’s bodily ailment as well as sin against God. It is God himself who goes out in his word to meet us wherever we are and to heal us should we put our trust in his word. Once healed, we are not to go to the temple, but to our own ‘house’ with our own bed, to glorify God. The word of God is not bound to Jerusalem and its temple. Indeed, the essential function of the temple, which is the place where sacrifices are offered for the expiation of our sins, is now carried out fully outside the temple through the ‘word.’ The reason is that the true sacrificial worship is a ‘word(y) worship’: “I appeal to you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship (the Greek has λογικὴν λατρείαν)” (Rom 12:1).
Sharyn Dowd, Reading Mark, Smith & Helwys Publishing, Macon, GA, 2000.
Paul Nadim Tarazi, New Testament Introduction, Vol.1: Paul and Mark, St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, Crestwood, NY, 1999; pp.146-48.