Scripture Reading: Mark 2:1-12
Jesus knows the crowds around Him. He has been to Capernaum before. The last time He was here, the crowds had listened and watched Him with amazement, quick to recognize that Jesus was different from other teachers and religious leaders. The people had not been able to contain their amazement at His teaching, His authority, and His power. The news about Him had spread around the entire region.
It is no wonder then, that on His return to Capernaum, Jesus has drawn a large crowd. So large, in fact, that there seems to be no way to get close to Him. For many, it is enough just to hear Him speak. For four determined friends, however, it is not enough. The story is familiar: the friends carry the paralyzed man up to the roof, cut a hole in it, and lower the man to Jesus.
There is urgent need here and clear determination. Like the crowds below them, the friends have likely seen and heard how amazing Jesus is. They also have hope. They hope in the healing that Jesus can provide. But notice that Jesus sees the faith of the four friends. Faith goes a step further –it is being sure of what we hope for (Hebrews 11:1a). And what does Jesus do in response to their faith? He forgives and then heals.
Jesus has a different idea of hope. He is the source of all hope, and He knows truest need. Before healing the man who cannot walk, Jesus forgives his sins. Of course He is mindful of the crowds, mindful of the teachers of the law gathered around Him and judging Him. He is teaching them something, too – revealing who He is by showing that both forgiveness and healing are possible with God. So if the lesson for the leaders seems to be about authority, perhaps the lesson for the four friends is more about hope.
Hope is precious. It is a powerful motivator. It compels us to envision something better. In an imperfect and often painful world, the beautiful promise of Heaven’s perfection is the source of our hope. What a privilege it is to share the vision of what is to come. Yet meeting needs and sharing hope are often connected. The hopeful vision of justice for the poor and marginalized, the possibility of a better life or of new possibilities is grounded in a more hopeful vision of a world renewed and redeemed by God, transformed and perfect. This is the true source of hope.
Deacons, you are agents of hope. As you meet needs and bless your community with the compassion of Christ, you will be bringing hope. And hope does not disappoint, because the hope you bring is rooted and grounded in your faith in a God who loves justice, and has a heart for the poor and marginalized. Our God will bring reconciliation and justice. This is the God in whom you put your faith. This is the God who will give you what you need to inspire hope.
Simply by your love and your actions, your neighbours will begin to envision a different future. As you build and establish relationships, and as trust and love develops, keep your mind and heart open to the prompting of the Spirit to share the source of all hope.
Praise God that He is already at work in your community and invites you to join Him in bringing hope!