Nothing derails my day like a poor night’s sleep. And nothing ruins my sleep more easily than dread of what the next day might bring.
Remember that we started Mark 2 noticing how Jesus managed to stay on track despite interruptions. Few things derail us more easily than fear, much less dread.
A recent example is typical. After a full day that finished with a long session at my computer, I grabbed a book and headed to bed. I was all set to read myself into oblivion when my husband asked an innocent question, “What’s your day like tomorrow?” I mumbled a quick reply and slid into sleep. But the damage was done. My words had awakened a subterranean demon, a Balrog of dread –the beast that attacked the wizard Gandalf–began to stir.
In the night it surfaced.
- what if I can’t focus tomorrow and my study day is a waste?
- How am I going to handle distractions?
- what if this person doesn’t follow through on what I asked them to do?
- who do I think I am to commit to this??
As you may remember from the Lord of the Rings, Gandalf lost his battle with the Balrog. It looked like I was going to lose mine.
Courageous in the Face of Dread
But Jesus didn’t lose his battle. He wasn’t derailed from his mission by external or internal pressures. That’s clear in each of the four scenes of Mark, chapter 2. Facing the hostile questions of the Scribes and Pharisees could have intimidated him into defensiveness or inaction. Backed into a corner, he could have attacked or retreated. But he didn’t. Instead, his courage shined clearly as he stayed the course.
The demons of dread had no effect on our Savior.
Why? Where did his internal strength come from? “Well…he’s God,” we tend to answer, “it was easy for him.” Correction, he is the God-man, who willingly laid aside his divine power to live a human life the way it was supposed to be lived. And how was that? True humanity was never meant to be lived alone, but in conscious relationship with the Triune God. As we saw in Chapter 1, Jesus lived in daily dependence and responsiveness to the Father and the Spirit, the way we were meant to live.
Even More Than a Fearless Example
But Jesus is not simply our example, he’s our Savior. He came not just to live the life we were supposed to live. He came to pay for our moral failures with his atoning blood. His mission wasn’t just to preach the good news, but to be the good news. Mark 2:1-12 shows us that. Jesus came to forgive sins, which could only happen if someone was both willing and able to pay the price of every offense. This scene points to the cross.
As our pastor preached a few weeks ago, Jesus’ words to the paralyzed man surprised everyone, the man, his friends, and us the reader. That’s because we think our presenting problem–sickness or loneliness or bankruptcy or unemployment–is our biggest need. But it isn’t. We think, if only THIS were fixed, all would be well. But we’re mistaken, just like the paralyzed man and everyone else in Mark 2:1-12 were.
Healing is not his greatest need, forgiveness is.Pastor Phil Kruis
Forgiveness is a deeper healing than anything physical. It not only heals the soul, but the breach between our soul and our God.
Fear Not, I Am With You
Better than Christmas, the gospel piles on the gifts. Forgiveness of our sins, labeled “Open Me First,” leads to an enormous door that opens before us. It is the reality of a restored relationship with the God of the universe, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the One we were created to know and love and enjoy. I can get so caught up in the spiritual relief of forgiveness, that I forget to look up and see the smiling face of my Father in heaven.
In fact it wasn’t until Day 4 that it jumped off the page at me.
Vanquishing Dread By His Word
- My son, your sins are forgiven. With six words Jesus sweeps away the barrier of sin and proclaims a new relationship. He didn’t have to say “My son,” he chose to.
- Follow me. I tend to put the emphasis on the word “follow” and forget who it is I’m following. When you follow someone, you’re have to stay close to them. Jesus wants me close to him.
- How can the wedding guests fast when the Bridegroom is with them? They can’t. But when the wedding ends, the guests go home. We, however, who have believed in Jesus aren’t the guests at the wedding, we’re the Bride! We go home from the wedding to spend our forever with him. Though the Bridegroom has ascended, he is at our side through his Spirit, until the day he returns.
- What David did…how he entered the house of God…and ate the bread of the Presence. How did David dare to enter the holy place and eat the holy bread? There’s only one qualification: because he was holy. If the blood of goats and bulls could cleanse David, how much more does the blood of the David’s greatest son cleanse us. The bread of the Presence sustains us, too, with God’s very Presence by his Spirit.
Four Ways To Say ‘Fear Not’
In other words, Here are four ways to say the same thing: Fear not! You are forgiven therefore I am with you. Today. Tomorrow. Everyday. Every step of your day.
Follow me on my mission into your day. Proclaim this good news to those around you: Jesus came to forgive your sins and be with you forever.
That’s the good news I heard this week. What about you?