2018-06-03 – Rev. Dr. Ryan Sato
FOUR FRIENDS ON A ROOF DIGGING
We return to the gospel of Mark this week and for a few more weeks until the summer begins…
Remember the distinctives of Mark? A swift moving gospel…the author (perhaps Mark) with hurried tones, wanting to give us “just the facts” because he’s wanting to assure his hearers that this story of Jesus is a real one (with no extra fluff)…and it’s also an intense one…one where Jesus is consistently turning the world upside-down with his “compassion to save all.”
Immediately, immediately, immediately…(17 times in 16 chapters) and on Easter Sunday we heard the cliffhanger ending where the women and first post-resurrection followers are left to fill in the story with their lives and their stories…
So today’s story is another Markan drama filled with curiousity, conflict, criticism, amazement and Jesus being compassionate and caring to those who long to see him, to hear him, to encounter him…
On the back of today’s bulletin, you see an artist rendering of what a 1st C Capernaum (small town) house might have looked like…
Imagine Jesus-seekers gathered in a 4 m x 4 m foot front room…the 4 friends who had carried their suffering companion to the doorway are met with a wall of humanity…there’s no getting through the sweaty, stuffy, clamouring crowd so they come up with an ingenious alternate route.
They scurry up the outer stairwell and temporarily lay their friend on the thick, mud-based thatched roof (talk about the roof a bit and explain why it is “diggable”).
Two of them have dull knives, the other 2 use sharp edged stones and they start digging, scraping, cracking twig branches and lifting out chunks of hardenend clay and mud, hurling them aside…
It’s dusty…and a wee bit precarious, but these friends are unstoppable! Their desire to get their friend in the presence of Jesus is tenacious…their courage knows no bounds!
The crowd below is of course annoyed…with twigs, gravel and dirt clumps falling on their heads…some of them curse the roof diggers, but the diggers keep on widening the gap….
It’s 1 m x 1 m, big enough for them to squeeze the blanketed, stretcher-like quilt/mattress through…their friend descending into the crowded room.
The people below are not barbarians…they do what most humans would do and they grasp on to the edges of the stretcher and lay the man on the floor at the feet of Jesus.
It’s hard to read into what Jesus is thinking…and some wonder what his reaction will be…
Jesus looks upwards through the dusty haze and sees the four friends… he smiles!
“Oh! Your faith!”
Jesus looks downwards, towards the gaunt man, who’s been carried to and fro’ for decades and now lays before this small-town, no name, but rising star of a travelling preacher…
“Son, your sins are forgiven!”
A religious leader scoffs ….Jesus knows this scoffer’s heart…
“Blasphemy hmmm? What’s easier for me to say “Your sins are forgiven? Or “stand up and walk?”
–But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins…
STAND UP…take your mat…and go!
And the lame man slowly, and tentatively rises to his feet…he walks!
And you can add in your imagination if he leaps, and dances, and shouts/cries out for joy!
AND ALL WERE AMAZED…many in the crowd cried out: “We’ve never seen anything like this!”
* * * * * *
Now…I don’t suppose that many of us have seen anything like this but…
It’s a fantastic story isn’t it? And we read of these stories throughout the gospels…so we (I’d like to think…) we believe this is true.
It’s marvelous. It’s amazing. But as you can see, we here at FBC have not built a church on this phenomenon…this potentially “spectacular” form of ministry programming…
And so, I’m always trying to find the good news in these healing stories…true?
‘Cause I don’t believe that the focus for us this morning is to place ourselves in the world of magical, miraculous, physical healing…if that were true, we would have to sell tickets to get into this place on Sunday mornings…
I believe that we best find ourselves in today’s story as 1 of the 4 friends.
Those who yearn and long for God’s goodness, mercy, tender care, and yes, healing too, but a healing that is not focussed on the physical, but a healing of heart, soul, and mind.
I hope see we ourselves as 1 of those 4 friends…fueled by “holy impatience”…on our hands and knees, grasping at the edge of the hole we’ve dug in that roof, looking into the face of Jesus and having him look at me (at us) and hearing him say “your faith!”
Mark doesn’t tell us exactly what Jesus said…but he writes “Jesus saw their faith.”
Ahhhhhhhh. That’s good news.
God is here…we just sung about it earlier in the service.
And if God is here…Jesus is here.
And Jesus sees us….and he sees our faith. And he sees our dirty faces, our humble efforts, our fledgling, fumbling, creative ways and he says…
_________________ fill in the blank! (ask: “What do you imagine Jesus says to you?”)
I’d like to suggest …
“God has come near”
“your sins are forgiven”
“With you I am well pleased!” [read through the gospel of Mark and think of other phrases]
>>>> Jesus sees us.
Imagine Jesus looking at you, loving you, and affirming you.
And with that image and a picture of Jesus’ open-hearted posture in your mind/heart…let’s keep on making our way to the Table of the Lord to receive nourishment, renewal and healing.
By faith, we believe, Jesus us is here.