What makes for a brilliant question? Surely one that cannot be answered simply without careful thought. Like the policeman who stopped a motorist and asked, “do you break the speed limit every time you drive on this highway?” Today we begin a sermon series on the Gospel of Mark looking at the questions which either Jesus asked or were asked of him by others. These questions in Mark’s Gospel are more than simple reporting of conversations. They reveal who Jesus is and why he came. The shortest, and most likely the first of the four Gospels to be written, Mark has the “zip and punch of a quick story that’s meant to grab you by the collar and make you face the truth about Jesus”, says Tom Wright. The brevity and sense of urgency should not make us feel that Mark is an easy read or a simple tale.
Quite the opposite as we shall see. We jump straight into chapter 2 and the dramatic entry of a paralysed man through the roof of a house in the Galilean town of Capernaum. The presenting issue is the man’s obvious physical need but Dr Jesus makes another more important diagnosis of this man’s condition: his sins need to be forgiven. What unfolds is both a visible and an invisible miracle wrought by Jesus. Healing this man of his paralysis would give him health and save him from many years of great suffering ahead. However, to cure him of sin would result in the joy of eternal life and spare him from eternal death in hell. Mark want us to see that Jesus has authority both over sickness and disability and sin and death. It begs the question in the minds of the witnesses and us, “who is this man?” Nothing less than the Messiah, the only Son of God, who has authority to forgive that man’s sins…and yours too!