Jesus is the Temple!1
We’ve come to the end of our study of Mark 2:1-12 and I want to draw two important conclusions about what we’ve seen. Continue reading . . .
We’ve come to the end of our study of Mark 2:1-12 and I want to draw two important conclusions about what we’ve seen. Before doing so, I urge you to read through the passage one more time.
And when he returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. And many were gathered together, so that there was no more room, not even at the door. And he was preaching the word to them. And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him, and when they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, “Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” And immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to them, “Why do you question these things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the paralytic—“I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.” And he rose and immediately picked up his bed and went out before them all, so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!” (Mark 2:1-12).
(1) There is a dimension to this story that is difficult for us in the 21st century to grasp or appreciate. But I assure you it was not lost on the scribes in that house or the people who pushed their way in to see Jesus.
We must remember that for the Jewish people, the Temple in Jerusalem was the center of religious and spiritual life. It was in the Temple that God drew near to his people. It was at the temple that they worshiped. But most important of all, it was only in the Temple where the sacrifice for sin was made and thus the place where forgiveness was found.
But here is Jesus, saying to this paralyzed man, and to everyone else as well, I am the fulfillment of the Temple. I am here to be and do everything the Temple was and did. Jesus extended forgiveness of sins without sending the man to the Temple, without requiring that he perform the necessary worship or offer the blood sacrifices that were so much a part of Jewish life.
Jesus is saying, as N. T. Wright has correctly pointed out: “I am the Temple. Everything you formerly experienced there, everything you found there: whether the forgiveness of sins or the presence of God or the revelation of his glory, you now and forever after find in me!”
Simply put, this little story about men digging through a roof to get their friend to Jesus is simply a platform on which a much greater and far more significant story is being played out. This is Jesus turning the religious system on its head. This is Jesus undercutting the old and replacing it with the new. This is Jesus saying: “It’s all about me. I am the Temple. I am the presence of God. I am the place of his glory. I am the source of forgiveness.”
No wonder they hated him and charged him with blasphemy!
(2) Finally, as I’ve already stated, this story is also about Jesus awakening in each of us the awareness of our greatest and most pressing and most fundamental need. No matter how much of life goes well in other respects, until and unless our sins are forgiven and we are restored to intimacy and fellowship and union with God, we are hopelessly lost.
Your physical health may qualify you to win the Boston Marathon. Your financial portfolio may increase with each passing day, providing you and your family with security that will last for generations. Your marriage may be in great shape. You may have more friends than you can possibly count. People may love you. Your employer may promote you. But don’t let these signs of prosperity and success lull you into spiritual indifference.
If your soul is still defiled by the stain of sin, if you are still alienated from your Creator, it is all for naught. If you or anything else in this life is at the center of your emotional and spiritual world, rather than God, it is all for naught. If you are experiencing the favor of men, but remain under the wrath of God, it is all for naught.
What’s the answer? Simply this: Come to Jesus! Trust in Jesus! Believe in Jesus! Turn to Jesus! Embrace Jesus! Love Jesus! Honor Jesus! Receive from Jesus the redemption that he has provided. If you do, everything else in life may disintegrate, but you will have all you need. Everything else in life may go south, turn sour, disappoint and frustrate you. But you will have all you need. You will have Jesus, and in him you will have God and forgiveness and eternal life and joy.