Stuff and Excellence (Mark 2)

I love the story in Mark 2 about the paralytic in Capernaum who is lowered through the roof as Jesus is teaching to a literal packed house. Imagine the commotion as four strong men are on the roof literally destroying it. But they are not alone. They have carried their paralyzed friend up the external narrow steep wooden stairs hoping they can lower him down in front of Jesus. Give me a time machine and this is in my top ten list of visits!

There are two observations I’d like to make here.

One, why didn’t the owner of the house stop the unlawful destruction of his private property? Wouldn’t you have stopped them? I would have. And not like “excuse me, may I help you with something?” but, “HEY, GET OFF MY ROOF!” My only guess is that the owner of the house was a man or woman of faith and based on the past healings that Jesus had performed in Capernaum, he was reasoning that the paralyzed man’s need for healing outweighed his concern for his property.

The tension between our private property and serving others is a very real and difficult one in our culture. We are a wealthy people. How loosely do we hold our possessions? Or, should I ask, how tightly do our possessions hold us? Do we have eyes that see the bigger picture? Can God use our stuff for his purposes like this?

The second observation of this story is found in verse 6, “Now some of the scribes were sitting there….” Have you ever wondered how the itinerant Jesus got a hearing before the highly educated and esteemed Pharisees of Capernaum? (Remember, Capernaum was the Harvard of Pharisaical training in Jesus’ day). Why would they even listen to him? The answer is excellence. Jesus excelled in his knowledge, understanding and explanation of the text. Mark records on multiple occasions that the crowds were amazed at the teaching of Jesus because he taught with authority. The scribes of the Pharisees noticed that and were curious (and likely intimidated). They didn’t believe he was God of course – but they listened to him teach because he was an excellent teacher.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that there is someone in your circle of influence that would benefit from seeing your excellent work. They may not like you or agree with you on theology, but if you follow the path of excellence that Jesus demonstrated before the very demanding Pharisees, perhaps you too can gain a bit of respect before the difficult people that God has placed around you.

May God allow us to use our stuff for His purposes today, as we do all that we do with excellence, as unto the Lord.

Pastor John

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