In Jesus’ Words: We have never seen anything like this! (Mark 2:1-12)

Which is easier – to forgive someone’s sins, or to heal their physical body?  We have medical doctors, medicine and hospitals that can do great things today to heal the body, but we still only have one person who has ever claimed to be able to forgive your sins for eternity, and that is Jesus.  No other person, no matter what religion or belief, has ever even attempted to make that claim.  And that one single claim is the difference, and it’s a big difference.  It’s worth checking out the person who made this claim.

Jesus had no agenda of his own, and did not seek fame on his own.  Everything he did pointed to God, whom He called His Father.  The crowds that followed Him said it all – “We have never seen anything like this!”

I have to insert a little humor here as you read this story.  Imagine Jesus speaking to the crowds, people hanging on his every word, some serious perhaps, and all of a sudden these four guys start cutting into the roof and lowering this guy down into the room. People gasp!  But Jesus stays calm, and maybe he even smiles and laughs a little to himself as he sees what lengths these guys have gone.  Jesus was not put off.  I like to think that Jesus, who was also fully human, takes delight in our persistence and creativity of our faith to see Him.  He enjoyed people.

 The Son of Man Forgives and Heals
Mark 2: 1-12

When Jesus entered Capernaum again after some days, it was reported that He was at home. So many people gathered together that there was no more room, not even in the doorway, and He was speaking the message to them. Then they came to Him bringing a paralytic, carried by four men. Since they were not able to bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, they removed the roof above where He was. And when they had broken through, they lowered the mat on which the paralytic was lying.

Seeing their faith, Jesus told the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”

But some of the scribes were sitting there, thinking to themselves: “Why does He speak like this? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?”

Right away Jesus understood in His spirit that they were thinking like this within themselves and said to them, “Why are you thinking these things in your hearts? Which is easier: to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, pick up your mat, and walk’? But so you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins,” He told the paralytic, “I tell you: get up, pick up your mat, and go home.”

Immediately he got up, picked up the mat, and went out in front of everyone. As a result, they were all astounded and gave glory to God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!”

Would you climb through the roof of a crowded room if you knew Jesus could heal you?

Pray for Our World: Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe is a landlocked country in southern Africa.  25-50% of the population fled the country following the economic and social meltdown, and scourge of disease.  Independent from Britain since 1965, it was followed by intense guerrilla warfare and government fraud and corruption.  The church has grown amidst these trials as a refuge and to help meet the many desperate physical and social needs of the people.  Pray for the strength of these churches, for desperately needed resources, and the healing of their country.

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This is the last country (alphabetically) in a year of prayer around the world.  This is the final image too.  If nothing else, I hope you remember this picture.  It is a real part of the world we all live in, that we all participate in. 

Someday, God is going to ask each of us, “What did you do to help?”  Jesus’ direction to us was very clear: “Love God, love others, and tell others about Me.” For those of us who believe in Jesus as our Savior, we are completely covered in His grace and forgiveness, so we should act like it.  Go out and do things for God, and then you’ll worry less about all the “don’ts”.

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”
Colossians 3:17

Pray for Our World: Zambia

Zambia is a landlocked central southern African country. Debt, corruption and AIDS have driven the economy spiraling downward, so that 86% live below the poverty threshold. Independent from Britain in 1964, then under socialism until 1991 when Chiluba, an active Christian, was elected and declared Zambia a Christian country but with full religious freedom for all faiths. It was written into their constitution in 1996.

There is still much to be done to help the country economically and socially. Health services are overwhelmed with AIDS, leadership training is urgently needed, and Islam has been aggressively targeting Zambia. Pray that the country and people will turn to God as their source of strength and help.

Pray for Our World: Venezuela

Venezuela is the world’s fourth-largest producer of oil, with massive reserves and great economic potential. However the leadership aligns themselves with Cuba, Iran and other states opposed to freedom. Despite massive fuel exports, the nation ironically struggles with energy shortages. It is also the second most dangerous country in the world.

The Catholic Church has regained official recognition but its influence is under threat due to criticism by the president, and growth among evangelicals. There is an increasing size and influence of evangelicals, and they have become key players in social and political scenes. They have established a goal to plant 25,000 churches to help with some of the country’s most critical problems: poverty, corruption, and trafficking of drugs and people. Pray that the churches will be able to increase in numbers and influence to help care for the desperate needs and safety of the people and to give them a lasting hope in Jesus Christ.

Pray for Our World: Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan is an old country in the middle of the central Asian countries.  They have close economic ties to Russia and many leave to work in Russia. It is also the main transshipment nation for the drug trade from Afghanistan to Russia and on to Europe.  It is a secular state promoting a moderate and tightly controlled form of Islam.  Christians receive harsh treatment and proselytizing of Muslims is illegal. While the number of believers is increasing there, the majority of Muslims are unreached and have never heard the gospel. Each Muslim group in the country has less than .1% Christian among them.  Pray that they will be able to hear the gospel through means of internet, radio, and the Jesus film.

How can they believe if they have not heard, and how can they hear without someone telling them? (Romans 10:14)