Introducing Jesus Our Leader

“You Are Forgiven”
Teaching Segment
Notes by Randell Neudorf

Sunday, January, 6th, 2013
Mark 2: 1-12

Has anyone seen the Movie “Mr. Magorium’s Magic Emporium”? For those of you who haven’t seen it, let me give you a little context for a clip we are going to watch. Mr Magorium owns a magic toy store, and Mr. Magorium himself is a bit magical as well, he is sort of a kinder, gentler Willie Wonka character. He is very old, so old that he was friends with Thomas Edison, but Mr Magorium is not immortal, he knows that his time is nearly done and he wants to pass on his magic store to his clerk.

In that clip we hear Mr Magorium imply that he doesn’t want to be remembered for the way he died but rather for the way he lived. For that young clerk to take over the toy store, and keep up its legacy, she needs to focus on the life of Mr. Magorium as her example for how to run a Magical Toy Store.

For us as part of the world wide church we have inherited something as well. We have inherited the Kingdom. The kingdom that Jesus talked so much about during his time on earth.

This kingdom doesn’t have boarders. You can’t find it on a map. It isn’t defined by where you live but rather by how you live.  Even though this Kingdom doesn’t share a whole lot with kingdoms and countries that you find on the pages of an atlas, it does share one important trait; this kingdom definitely has a leader.

For the next 3 months we are going to be looking at stories in the book of Mark that talk about the actions and teachings of “Jesus our Leader.”

I really want you to keep that phrase in your head; “Jesus our Leader.” If you are in this room listening to someone teach, sing or pray, look for “Jesus our Leader” in what you see and hear. For the kids, when you go over to the next room for the Zone, think of the stories you are learning as a chance to get to know “Jesus our Leader.” If you are preparing a Zone lesson, a teaching segment, a music set, a creative segment, keep the phrase “Jesus our Leader” in your mind. If we are followers of Jesus then He is our leader and we need to look to Him as our example.

Jesus’ death (and resurrection) is very important to our story, and it has all kinds of spiritual and theological implications, but just learning about Jesus’ death and resurrection doesn’t really help us to follow Jesus as our Leader. We need to look at the life of Jesus to learn how to be “Jesus Followers.” We need to look at “Jesus our Leader” and ask ourselves;

  • How did He treat people?
  • What was important to Him?
  • What was unimportant to Him?
  • Who were His friends?
  • Who were His enemies?
  • What did He ask of the people who decided to follow Him?
  • What does He ask of us?

There is a great Hymn that I think would be good for us to sing. You can think of it as this very strange Kingdom’s National Anthem.

The kids from the Zone did a great job doing a reading & pantomime of our story from Mark 2: 1-12 but you will have to settle for just reading it for yourself

Jesus went back to Capernaum, and a few days later people heard that he was at home.[a] Then so many of them came to the house that there wasn’t even standing room left in front of the door.

Jesus was still teaching when four people came up, carrying a crippled man on a mat. But because of the crowd, they could not get him to Jesus. So they made a hole in the roof[b] above him and let the man down in front of everyone.

When Jesus saw how much faith they had, he said to the crippled man, “My friend, your sins are forgiven.”

Some of the teachers of the Law of Moses were sitting there. They started wondering, “Why would he say such a thing? He must think he is God! Only God can forgive sins.”

Right away, Jesus knew what they were thinking, and he said, “Why are you thinking such things? Is it easier for me to tell this crippled man that his sins are forgiven or to tell him to get up and pick up his mat and go on home? 10 I will show you that the Son of Man has the right to forgive sins here on earth.” So Jesus said to the man, 11 “Get up! Pick up your mat and go on home.”

12 The man got right up. He picked up his mat and went out while everyone watched in amazement. They praised God and said, “We have never seen anything like this!”

In the story of this paralyzed man being brought to Jesus, there are a lot of things going on. Jesus has drawn quite a crowd that have all packed into one little house, to hear him teach and hopefully glimpse him performing a real life miracle. This was still early on in Jesus’ ministry but word had already spread all over the place about this new teacher who spoke with a different kind of authority and who had miraculously healed a number of sick people.

When I thought about the house being so crowded an image of Matt’s house popped into my mind. Matt has nick named his home Fort Elgin and hosts many parties, potlucks and concerts there each year.

If you have been to one of these events the first thing you are going to notice is that they are packed! The main floor is just full of people; the living room, dining room, and kitchen are just shoulder to shoulder with people. People are also spilling out onto the front side walk and the back porch. It was so full once that I actually saw one of Matt’s roommates trapped in the kitchen, go out the back door, hop the fence and then run around to the front door so that he could get to the stairs to go up to his own bedroom.

The second thing you are going to notice about a Fort Elgin happening is that there are all kinds of different people there. All different ages, professions, personalities, and social circles are invited. Everybody knows somebody but nobody knows anywhere close to everybody, with the possible exception of Matt (but even then there is always some friends of friends that come, that even he doesn’t know).

So if you have been to a Fort Elgin happening I want you to keep that image in your mind when thinking of the crowd in this story.

We aren’t told here what Jesus was teaching; we are just told that he was teaching at this packed house. This brings us to the Character of the paralyzed man and his 4 friends.

I don’t pretend to know what it is like to be disabled but I do have an experience where I got to witness (and sometimes participate) in the dynamic of a care giver relationship. I lived with my friend Andrew Scholey’s family for my last two years of high school. Andrew’s dad had been in a tragic diving accident and was left paralyzed from the neck down. Mr. Scholey spent years in the hospital being rehabilitated. Their home was remodeled to be wheel chair accessible, complete with a lift system and a home office with a voice controlled computer. This allowed him to continue working for the life insurance company he was employed with. An electric wheel chair was purchased that Mr Scholey operated with his head.

So many things were used to try and give this man as much independence and mobility as possible. There was even a machine that you could put a book in that would turn the pages for you. Despite all these technological aids Mr. Scholey had to rely on his friends and family just like the paralyzed man in our story. I remember myself, Andrew and Mrs. Scholey transferring Mr. Scholey from his bed to his wheel chair for the first time. We weren’t that good at it yet, it took all three of us pulling, pushing, and wedging a board into the gap between the bed and the chair to slide this grown man into place. We almost dropped him that first time and we weren’t able to provide a lot of dignity for this Husband, Father and Friend in those early days as we relearned how to do every little thing. Despite all the technology, there were so many things that Mr. Scholey couldn’t do for himself.

He couldn’t use Windex to clean a smudge on the window he liked to look out from. He had to wait for his very tired wife, or teenage son (or the grungy friend of his teenage son) to “squirt, squirt,” and then wipe the smudge away. A very small thing, and if Mr Scholey could have done it himself he probably wouldn’t even have noticed, or bothered to clean it. But, because he couldn’t do it himself it was a huge deal. That little smudge was like an itch he couldn’t reach, he was dependent on the rest of us for window cleaning and so many other tasks.

I don’t exactly know what the paralyzed man in our story was thinking as he was being lowered down through the roof of that crowded house. What I do know was that having to completely rely on his friends was nothing new to him.

I can’t even imagine the effort it took to carry a grown man safely onto a roof and then lower him down successfully in front of Jesus. (as a side note, 4 of us tried to get an idea of what it would have felt like by lifting up Ken off the ground while he lied down on a sleeping bag, I for one could only hold him up for a couple of seconds, luckily we didn’t drop him).

Here is where we meet “Jesus our Leader” in our story. He doesn’t say “What are you idiots doing, you have just destroyed my hosts home.” He doesn’t chastise anyone for interrupting his perfectly crafted 3 point sermon. He doesn’t get angry at these men’s very presumptuous behaviour.

We are starting to get a little bit of a picture of our Leader here. He doesn’t seem to value property, he is OK with things being unconventional and extreme, and he is very moved by faith.

We are told by Mark that “When Jesus saw how much faith they had, he said to the crippled man, “My friend, your sins are forgiven.”  We aren’t told what the friends who did all this work were thinking, so its just speculation, but I bet they were pretty dumb founded.

Through this act of forgiveness we learn another thing about Jesus’ priorities. We see Jesus look at a man who is completely broken physically, someone who needs his friends to carry him everywhere, to scratch his nose when it itches (and possibly Windex his windows) and Jesus looks at this guy and sees a greater need. Jesus sees the sin in this man’s life and He forgives it.

If you are a first aid responder and you found someone injured with two cuts on them, one was large and was bleeding profusely, and the other was small and only bleeding a little. Which one would you treat first? The large one of course, the one that was most life threatening.

That is what Jesus did; he looked at this man and forgave his sins. He healed what he viewed as the most important thing first.

Remember how I said there is always a mix of people at Matt’s place, well there was a big mix of people in today’s story as well. This is where we see one segment of the crowd get their feathers ruffled.

We are told that “Some of the teachers of the Law of Moses were sitting there. They started wondering, “Why would he say such a thing? He must think he is God! Only God can forgive sins.”

Jesus knows what they were thinking and says out loud in front of everyone (which must have freaked the leaders out a little bit),

“Why are you thinking such things?  Is it easier for me to tell this crippled man that his sins are forgiven or to tell him to get up and pick up his mat and go on home? I will show you that the Son of Man has the right to forgive sins here on earth.” So Jesus said to the man, “Get up! Pick up your mat and go on home.”

We are then told,

“The man got right up. He picked up his mat and went out while everyone watched in amazement. They praised God and said, “We have never seen anything like this!”

Jesus may have had his sermon interrupted but he definitely didn’t have his teaching interrupted. Jesus took this opportunity to perform a physical healing to emphasis the importance of the spiritual healing found in forgiveness.

“Jesus our Leader,” models and offers forgiveness. He looks at us in all our distress, in all our brokenness and says, “I know what I need to work on first, I need to forgive your sins, I need to forgive you and help you let go of all the bad junk you have been hanging on to. The bitterness, the anger, the jealousy, the greed, the envy, the lies, the hurt, the blame, and all the other sins that keep you broken.”

If we are following Jesus, if we are setting Him up as our Leader, we need to follow Him into forgiveness. We need to submit to being forgiven in the same way the paralyzed man had to submit to his friends for all his needs, to be carried and cared for. We also need to extend that forgiveness to others, just like in the prayer Jesus taught his followers to say, “Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.”

Before we have communion (which is a symbol of this forgiveness) I would like for us to recite the Lord’s Prayer together.

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your Kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins,
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom,
the power and the glory are yours.
Now and forever.
Amen.

We then watched the following video, and were served communion by Jen. As she served communion she spoke the words “You are Forgiven” to each person to remind them of the forgiveness Jesus has extended to them.

Lyrics to “Forgiveness” by Patti Griffin

We are swimming with the snakes at the bottom of the well 
So silent and peaceful in the darkness where we fell 
But we are not snakes and what’s more we never will be 
And if we stay swimming here forever we will never be free 
I heard them ringing the bells in heaven and hell 
They got a secret they’re getting ready to tell 
It’s falling from the skies 
It’s calling from the graves 
Open your eyes boy, I think we are saved 
Open your eyes boy, I think we are saved 
Let’s take a walk on the bridge right over this mess 
Don’t need to tell me a thing baby, we already confessed 
And I raised my voice to the air 
And we were blessed 
It’s hard to give 
It’s hard to get 
But everybody needs a little forgiveness 
We are calling for help tonight on a thin phone line 
As usual we’re having ourselves one hell of a time 
And the planes keep flying over our heads 
No matter how loud we shout 
Hey, Hey, Hey, Hey 
And we keep wavin and wavin our arms in the air but we’re all tired out 
I heard somebody say today’s the day 
Big old hurricane she’s blowing our way 
Knockin over the buildings 
Killing all the lights 
Open your eyes boy, we made it through the night 
Open your eyes boy, we made it though the night 
Let’s take a walk on the bridge right over this mess 
Don’t need to tell me a thing baby, we already confessed 
And I raise my voice to the air 
And we were blessed 
It’s hard to give 
It’s hard to get 
It’s hard to give 
But still I think it’s the best bet 
Hard to give 
Never gonna forget 
But everybody needs a little forgiveness 
Everybody needs a little forgiveness