This morning I read again the story of when Jesus healed a paralyzed man (Mark 2:1-12). Jesus is preaching and teaching, and the house he’s in is so full there’s no room for anyone to get in. Some men come, carrying a man who was paralyzed, but they can’t get in to have Jesus heal the man. So, they climb up on the roof of the house, knock a hole through the ceiling and lower the man down right in front of Jesus.
Jesus sees their faith and forgives the man’s sin. Here the religious leaders pick a fight because only God has the authority to forgive sins. By forgiving the paralyzed man’s sins, Jesus was in effect claiming to be God, and that didn’t sit well with the religious leaders of the day. From this point on in Mark’s gospel, they begin to oppose Jesus.
But Jesus comes back at them by asking which is easier, to say to someone their sins are forgiven, or to heal them miraculously? Obviously, it’s easier to tell someone their sins are forgiven because there’s no real proof whether or not the forgiveness actually happened. But to claim to heal someone is harder because now you have to prove yourself. Jesus does just that. He heals the man right there in front of everyone to show that God has given him authority not just to heal people, but also to forgive sins.
Yet the religious leaders still oppose Jesus. By Mark 3:6, just one chapter later, they’re plotting to kill him. Jesus’ preaching and teaching and healing ministries are opposed. Jesus’ good actions stir up evil reactions.
It is the same today. Good action always provokes evil reaction. Good will always be opposed by evil. There are many Christians today who bemoan the sorry state of churches in America. There are many studies that show we’re as morally bankrupt as the rest of our culture around us. Some church leaders say that if only the church in America would “clean up her act” she would be accepted by the culture as she once was.
I certainly do believe God’s people need to step up and stop living as though the God we claim to worship doesn’t exist. We do need to set ourselves apart by love and good works. Our lives should be obviously different from the culture around us. However, I don’t believe if the church cleans up its act that it will be accepted by culture as it once was. That’s dreaming of days gone by rather than facing reality that is. If and when the church cleans up her act, she will be faced by evil opposition, just like Jesus. In fact, if we’re embraced by culture “as we once were,” then we need to stop and see what needs to be cleaned out. When we do good, when we become the Body of Christ on earth, we will be opposed, rejected, ridiculed, and persecuted. That was Jesus’ lot. That is ours. Are you ready?
Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. (John 15:20 NIV)
“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.” (Matthew 5:11 NIV)