The Center of it All

In part 33 and final sermon in our series The Way of Paradox: Following the Right-Side Up King in an Upside-Down World, A Study in the Gospel of Mark, Lead Pastor Chris Gensheer shows us what it means to be gospel centered, to see that it is all about Jesus, the center of it all, by looking at the trail, crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ.

More stubborn than our sin is the relentless love of our Savior, who is even now redeeming, renewing and restoring all nouns – peoples, places and things – to Himself, for God’s glory and His and our joy together.

This is what not only humbles us, but also electrifies us to live in light of the gospel.

Shareable Thoughts:

“Grace is greater than sin, and therefore can have the last and final word.” – @gensheer @ccmansfieldtx (Facebook or Google+ – Chris Gensheer, Christ Church Mansfield TX), #wayofparadox #gospelcentered

Referenced in Sermon:
Cornelius Plantinga, Not the Way It’s Supposed to Be: A Breviary of Sin (Link to quote)

About Christ Church Mansfield

Christ Church Mansfield is a worshiping community on mission to reach this and the next generation with the transforming power of the gospel.

We exist to love God (worship), connect people (community), serve the city (mission) and reach the world (discipleship) with the transforming power of the gospel. We serve the communities of Mansfield, Arlington, Burleson, Midlothian, Cedar Hill, Grand Prairie and Fort Worth, TX.

A member of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), we stand in the reformed tradition that celebrates that the church is always to be reformed; meaning, we are to be reshaped and molded into the image of Christ as declared in the scriptures.

For more free content, or to make a contribution to the ministry, go to www.cpcmansfield.org (soon to be http://www.christchurchmansfield.com)

Stubborn Grace and Losing Focus

In yesterday’s sermon at Christ Church Mansfield we completed our study of Mark’s Gospel called The Way of Paradox: Following the Right-Side Up King in an Upside-Down World. We ended by seeing how Jesus is the center of it all – the gospel, the Christian faith, even reality itself.

One of the main themes that we reiterated week in and week out was that the world as we know it is not normal; it’s abnormal. It’s not the way it’s supposed to be. But when Jesus comes into the scene, we get a glimpse, a picture, of what that right-side up world is supposed to look like.

I have been forever impacted and indebted to Tim Keller for introducing me to Cornelius Plantinga, and his monumental work on sin. Of all things, this book, and particularly the following quote has left an impression on me in regards to understanding the gospel, Jesus Christ, and what it is that His life and His work is really all about.

If you were with us this past weekend for the sermon “The Center of it All”, here is the quote I read at the end:

“Evil rolls across the ages, but so does good. Good has its own momentum. Corruption never wholly succeeds. (Even blasphemers acknowledge God.) Creation is stronger than sin and grace stronger still. Creation and grace are anvils that have worn out a lot of our hammers. To speak of sin itself, to speak of it apart from the realities of creation and grace, is to forget the resolve of God. God wants shalom and will pay any price to get it back. Human sin is stubborn, but not as stubborn as the grace of God and not half so persistent, not half so ready to suffer to win its way. Moreover, to speak of sin by itself is to misunderstand its nature: sin is only a parasite, a vandal, a spoiler. Sinful life is a partly depressing, partly ludicrous caricature of genuine human life. To concentrate on our rebellion, defection, and folly—to say to the world ‘I have some bad news and I have some bad news’—is to forget that the center of the Christian religion is not our sin but our Savior. To speak of sin without grace is to minimize the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the fruit of the Spirit, and the hope of shalom.” – Cornelius PlantingaNot the Way It’s Supposed to Be: A Breviary of Sin (p. 199)

One of the best books I've ever read - thanks Tim Keller!

One of the best books I’ve ever read – thanks Tim Keller!

New Sermon video – True Grit: Fight. Flee. Fulfill!

How do you deal with pressure? When the going gets tough, what do you do?

All human beings have the tendency to either fight through, or flee the other way; the classic Lizard brain “fight or flight” response. And this is good for survival purposes, but what if the stakes are even greater than just simply preservation of our lives or the mere status quo.

For all of us, it’s only when the roof caves in that the truth comes out, and despite our best efforts and tough talk, all of our strength and might fails us. Our only other option would seem to be to flee and run away. But in the gospel, we see another way – fulfillment. When the blow of God’s judgment against sin – the ways we fail God, others, and even ourselves – it falls hard on all.

But for those who put their trust in Christ – the Shepherd who was struck for His people and later vindicated and raised up in glory – can be redeemed, restored and renewed, and so fight the fight of faith to cling to Jesus through all of life’s ups, down, failures and successes.

Christ Church Mansfield is a worshiping community on mission to make to reach this and the next generation with the transforming power of the gospel.

We exist to love God (worship), connect people (community), serve the city (mission) and reach the world (discipleship) with the transforming power of the gospel. We serve the communities of Mansfield, Arlington, Burleson, Midlothian, Cedar Hill, Grand Prairie and Fort Worth, TX.

A member of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), we stand in the reformed tradition that celebrates that the church is always to be reformed; meaning, we are to be reshaped and molded into the image of Christ as declared in the scriptures.

For more free content, or to make a contribution to the ministry, go to http://www.cpcmansfield.org (soon to be http://www.christchurchmansfield.com)

To Everything Turn, Turn, Turn (or The End of the World as We Know It): Jesus and the End Times

Here is the video to my latest sermon at Christ Church Mansfield, To Everything, Turn, Turn, Turn (or The End of the World as We Know It) from Mark 13.

This is part 30 of our series in the Gospel of Mark called, The Way of Paradox: Following the Right-Side Up King in an Upside-Down World.

“To everything, turn, turn, turn. There is a season, turn, turn, turn. And a time to every purpose under heaven.”- Pete Seeger and Ecclesiastes 3

When Pete Seeger penned those words to the classic folk turned rock song (popularized by The Byrds), he was putting music and emotion to the wisdom of the book of Ecclesiastes that said “No matter what you are experiencing, it won’t always be like this. Things will change. They will “turn” eventually.”

When it comes to biblical prophecy, and more specifically, apocalyptic literature (like Mark 13), those same words hold true but with a different meaning. Biblical prophecy gives us a picture of the future as told from God’s perspective – what Tim Keller calls “poetic history told ahead of time” – for the expressed purpose of giving those who see what He sees and hear what He hears a chance to respond appropriately in the present.

In Mark 13, Jesus will address one of the most controversial topics that have been debated and even divisive within all of Christianity throughout the centuries – eschatology; or the view of the “end times.” And what we find in Jesus’ “Little Apocalypse” here is that perhaps we have focused too much of our discussions on minor points, and completely missed the major point.

While there is little consensus on the minors – such as timing, sequence, correlation to world and geo-political events – there is overwhelming consensus on the majors; namely Jesus Christ will return at the end time to judge as well as redeem, renew and restore all things, inevitably but unexpectedly.

Tweetable Thoughts:

“Christ’s return is inevitable, even though it will be unexpected – no one will know before it happens.” @gensheer @ccmansfieldtx #wayofparadox

“The real abomination is man in murderous revolt against his Maker & Redeemer.” @gensheer @ccmansfieldtx #wayofparadox

“When Jesus comes it is the end of the world as we know it.” @gensheer @ccmansfieldtx #wayofparadox

About Christ Church Mansfield

Christ Church Mansfield is a worshiping community on mission to make to reach this and the next generation with the transforming power of the gospel.

We exist to love God (worship), connect people (community), serve the city (mission) and reach the world (discipleship) with the transforming power of the gospel. We serve the communities of Mansfield, Arlington, Burleson, Midlothian, Cedar Hill, Grand Prairie and Fort Worth, TX.

A member of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), we stand in the reformed tradition that celebrates that the church is always to be reformed; meaning, we are to be reshaped and molded into the image of Christ as declared in the scriptures.

For more free content, or to make a contribution to the ministry, go to www.cpcmansfield.org

Gospel Centered Giving: Grace Made Visible

Here is the video to my latest sermon at Christ Church Mansfield, Gospel Centered Giving: Grace Made Visible from Mark 12:38-44.

This is part 29 of our series The Way of Paradox: Following the Right-Side Up King in an Upside-Down World, a Study in the Gospel of Mark.

In this sermon, we explore the extraordinary giving of woman of humble means but full faith, contrasted with the meager giving of the wealthy, established and religious elite, and exposes a fundamental principle we often overlook when it comes to giving of our resources…

Giving is first a heart issue, before it’s ever a money issue.

The widow in Mark 12 shows us what gospel centered giving, grace made visible, actually looks like.

Only those who first give all that they are can give all that they have. And we can fully give all that we are and have because we have received from God all the best that He could give us in Jesus His Son.

Tweetable Thoughts:

“Giving is a reflection of the health of your heart, not the wealth of your wallet.” @ccmansfieldtx #wayofparadox

“Only those who give all that they are can give all that they have.” @ccmansfieldtx #wayofparadox

“Our money & where it goes betray what our hearts find most valuable.” @ccmansfieldtx #wayofparadox

References in the Sermon

Ann Voskamp’s article on Waging Love in Iraq with Preemptive Love Coalition Link:

Ann Voskamp on Twitter (@AnnVoskamp)

Relevant Magazine article “What Would Happen if the Church Tithed.” 

Christ Church Mansfield is a gospel centered worshiping community on mission to reach this and the next generation with the transforming power of the gospel.

We exist to love God (worship), connect people (community), serve the city (mission) and reach the world (discipleship) with the transforming power of the gospel. We serve the communities of Mansfield, Arlington, Burleson, Midlothian, Cedar Hill, Grand Prairie and Fort Worth TX.

A member of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), we stand in the reformed tradition that celebrates that the church is always to be reformed; meaning, we are to be reshaped and molded into the image of Christ as declared in the scriptures.

For more free content, or to make a contribution to the ministry, go to http://www.cpcmansfield.org/

The Very Natural Gospel

Jesus Healing Work – Restoring the World Back to Normal Again

In my reading and studying for our sermon series on the Gospel of Mark at Christ Presbyterian Church in Mansfield, (You can check it out for yourself if you want: The Way of Paradox: Following the Right-Side Up King in an Upside-Down World) I keep coming across great quotes and ways of expressing an unavoidable theme – that the miracles of Jesus are not the suspension of the natural order, but the reversal of the unnatural order back to what should be natural wholeness, health and restoration.

Here’s one from the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible on Mark 7:31-8:26

“When Jesus heals people such as this deaf man, we tend to view these miracles in the Gospels as interruptions of the natural order. Yet given the promises of the Old Testament to restore the world to the way it was at the very beginning, miracles are not an interruption of the natural order but the restoration of the natural order. We are so used to a fallen world that sickness, disease, pain, and death seem natural. In fact, they are the interruption. Jesus’ supernatural miracles are a return to the truly natural.”

Tell me, is this how you read and understand the miracles in the Bible? If not, why not?

If this way of thinking is new to you, I’d love to know and hear what thoughts or questions you may have. Take 30 seconds, leave a comment and let’s talk about it.

Practice Sabbath Rest Well My Friend!

Man resting in field (Small 640x360)This past weekend I preached on Sabbath rest from Mark 2:23-3:6 at Christ Presbyterian Church in Mansfield TX. I was unable to finish everything I had on it, and decided to follow it up with a blog post, especially talking about and addressing some practicalities of observing Sabbath rest in light of the gospel. 

The highlight of the sermon could be summed up in saying that far beyond the mere absence of work, Sabbath is more about the presence of true rest. The gospel is that the rest we need and crave is given to us by Jesus and His finished work on our behalf, and once we rest in His unchanging, unending love for us, we can in turn reach out to those with not only withered hands, but also withered hearts, and join Him in His mission to redeem, restore and renew all nouns – peoples, places and things – back to life in Him. 

To listen to the sermon, go here. Would love to hear your thoughts so share a comment here, or there!

Bring Back the Sabbath.

That was the title of a 2003 article in the New York Times by Judith Shulevitz in which she poignantly observed the desperate need we have as a society to once again observe the practice of taking designated time to rest. One of the priceless observations she makes in that article is that the need for Sabbath – a structured and socially practiced period of time for rest – goes far beyond the mere cessation of work or activity. She writes:

“Most people mistakenly believe that all you have to do to stop working is not work. The inventors of the Sabbath understood that it was a much more complicated undertaking. You cannot downshift casually and easily, the way you might slip into bed at the end of of a long day….That is why the Puritan and Jewish Sabbaths were so exactingly intentional, requiring extensive advance preparation…The rules did not exist to torture the faithful. They were meant to communicate the insight that interrupting the ceaseless round of striving requires a surprisingly strenuous act of will, one that has to be bolstered by habit as by social sanction.” (“Bring Back the Sabbath”, NY Times, March 2003)

She goes on to address why this is so.

“[When] Sunday was still sacred….not only did drudgery give way to festivity, family gatherings and occasionally worship, but the machinery of self-sesnorship shut down…stilling the eternal inner murmur of self-reproach.”

The “eternal inner murmur of self-reproach” – the ceaseless striving we all have – is a part of who we are as human beings. And it is the work beneath the work of our days and weeks that make us truly weary.

This is the main point Jesus teaching on the Sabbath. If one were to go to Jesus’ teachings in the New Testament on what is allowable and what is prohibited to do on the Sabbath, you will be woefully disappointed because he does not say much. And even when He is asked questions to this end, He simply changes the subject; or perhaps more accurately, He reorients the question and questioner to see that such lists and regulations are of lesser importance than the true meaning of Sabbath rest and the implications of Jesus life.

The true rest we need is not the mere cessation or absence of activity; it is to stop our ceaseless striving to earn approval and achieve significance through what we do and instead rest in the completed, finished and satisfactory work of Christ on our behalf! When God Himself rested from His work of Creation in Genesis 1-2, it was not because He was tired, or He needed to recharge His batteries; nor was it because He had to observe a sacred rhythm and ritual of working and resting. He did so because He was completely satisfied with His finished work. It was a time for joy, celebration, and no longer tinkering, building or improving. He looked at all He had done and declared, “It was very good.”

Jesus on the cross declares again, “It is finished” and because of His perfect life and sinless, substitutionary death, the full Godhead (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) are once again satisfied. Our ceaseless striving not only can, but must cease, as we find our true rest in Him alone. It was because he suffered under the weight of our ceaseless striving, experiencing the “no rest for the wicked” what we deserve (cf. Isaiah 57), that we can receive, experience and rest in the rest He deserved!

Jesus heals shriveled humanity on the Sabbath – both those with shriveled hands as well as shriveled hearts! Far from being turned in on ourselves, true Sabbath rest moves us beyond ourselves and our activity to rest in Him and reach out to others.

This is all well and good, but what does this mean practically for you and me on Monday? Or Tuesday? Or when we go home, or to church, or though the rest of our days and weeks?

I want to offer a few hopefully helpful and practical thoughts for what it means for us to practice Sabbath rest (not an oxymoron) in light of the gospel. Because the gospel does not only produce profound, true, deep rest that we crave, but also movement and motivation to reach out to others – to God in worship and celebration, to our fellow family members of the faith in community and remembrance, as well as to a weary and tired world around us.

Here are Three Inner Disciplines and Four Outer Disciplines to help us practice Sabbath rest in light of the gospel.

Inner Disciplines

1. Practice Liberty

Sabbath is a time for freedom and joy, not slavery and drudgery. One of the principle reasons for Israel’s freedom from bondage and captivity in Egypt was to experience freedom to worship God alone. This included the Sabbath, a single day of rest from their heavy burdens and labors under Pharaoh’s rule. Let’s not make our Sabbath day then about more rules, restrictions and regulations. Use it as one day among many that we learn to live out our freedom as sons and daughters of God. This is not just freedom from paid work and income producing activities. Perhaps, you need to practice liberty and freedom from your tendency toward busyness, or laziness? Maybe you need to practice liberty in terms of saying Yes because you always say No; or vice versa. Maybe you need to practice liberty from your smart phone, computer, or even your good books or favorite eateries and restaurants (or maybe you need to go out to eat!).

What would freedom look like for you? Given your situation and station in life? Given your temperament and personality?

2. Active Trust

To take one day out of seven to not do any work, any income producing activity, can be daunting, especially given our current cultural climate. There will always be pressure to keep pushing, striving, and improving your self, let alone get ahead in your job. To take a period of time and declare that you will not actively trust in your self and what you can produce, you are at the exact same time actively trusting in God to meet and perhaps even exceed your needs and expectations.

This is no small thing. By failing to take time off, you are declaring that you got this; but by doing so, you entrust yourself to One who has your best interests at stake and is far more interested in your life and situation that you probably are. Trust Him.

3. Respond in Grace

We all have certain levels or threshold for giving grace to others, or even ourselves for that matter. Our default inclination is to relate to other people based on merit – how well did they (or I) perform? Did I measure up? Etc. But Sabbath rest is about receiving and resting in grace – what someone else has produced, procured and secured on my behalf. We should then have a tendency to make grace our knee-jerk, first movement and reaction. And if we can’t or we’re not quite there yet, make it the second movement, if not the first.

One example. When you go out to eat (whether it’s lunch on Sunday or some other time and place), try leaving the tip out of grace, and not merit. Don’t start at 10% and make the serve earn extra; decide in your mind that you will give at least 20%, and perhaps a little more if the service is extra good! Be counter-intuitive to not only the way the world works, but the way your temperament or track record might lead you to be. You have received grace; extend it to others.

Outer Disciplines

4. Take more time for Sabbath

This is simple, but not easy. If we are going to practice Sabbath rest, we actually have to make time for it. Put it in your calendar. When will you block out time to practice Sabbath rest? When will you purposefully make time to practice liberty from producing, actively trust in God to provide, and respond in grace?

If you are in a profession that mandates you work on certain days of the week – whether Saturday or Sunday – when can you carve out time to engage in the discipline of resting in Christ?  Maybe it can’t be a full day for you given your station and circumstances in life, but there’s some time in your week I’m sure. Block it off and make it happen. It will do your body and your soul good.

5. Inject Sabbath time into regular time

I am thankful for the increasing body of research that gets at this one. Where and when can you inject some of this Sabbath time into your normal time, or a regular day? I’m talking about the new trend of looking favorably upon the afternoon “power nap” (not the 2 hour kind, but the 15-20 minute kind).  Or, if you are stuck at a desk for most of your day, but you get a few minutes of break here and there, maybe you can take a walk around your building. Maybe you can schedule a lunch with someone else to help you refuel and energize you (one key component of Sabbath rest is that it is not merely private, but communal as well – more on that below).

Our days have a rhythm just like our weeks. Where can we inject time to rest, reflect and re-engage with what God has done for us in the gospel both personally and with others throughout our day?

6. Balance Sabbath time

Tim Keller in his sermon on Sabbath from Luke 6 helpfully lists out three areas, or buckets, of Sabbath time that are helpful and necessary. He divides it up as avocational, leisure and contemplative spheres.

Avocational – what you enjoy doing, that’s not work related (Example: Professional fishermen might not actually find fishing restful). What can you make time for that your regular job and hours during the week don’t make time for? You might enjoy writing, but if that’s what you spend 90% of your time doing during your job, are there other areas of interest that you might miss out on, and now, you finally have the time to explore or experience? What are some of those avocational areas of life that could be restful and energizing, but the tyranny of the urgent or the important during the week, make no time for?

Leisure – Sabbath is a time for joy. What are those things you love doing, that refuel you, and that are just fun? Incorporate this aspect into your times of Sabbath rest.

Contemplative – There is a time and a place for reading, thinking and even journaling. Take some time to read your Bible, or some good book of doctrine and christian living. Journal your thoughts out too, and engage in prayer. With the constant onslaught of distractions and drivenness during our week, carve out some time to do the hard, heart work that pays so much more than it costs. But it’s important to take the time to do so.

7. Be Engaged in Community and Accountability for Sabbath time

This is by far, I think, the most significant lever we can pull personally to get the most out of true Sabbath rest.  We are created by community, for community, and we will not experience true rest outside of it. Here’s what I mean. God created you to image Him, and He is One God in Three Persons (or Trinity). He is Father, Son and Holy Spirit, each unique and differentiated persons, but still one God. To image Him then, we must not only be unique and differentiated persons, but we must find and situate ourselves within a community.

This is where being involved in a local church is so important. It is our opportunity to find ourselves by being committed to others. And it is as we are part of a community that we can in turn remind each other not only who we are, but Whose we are, and so continually rest in His love for us.

Who are you engaged with in terms of community? Who is holding you accountable for not only believing, but living, out of the rest the gospel provides? Who can you reach out to with that same rest?

What got Jesus into trouble?

The way that he ate.

Come find out more at Christ Presbyterian Church this Sunday as we continue our sermon series The Way of Paradox: Following the Right-Side Up King in an Upside-Down World and look at Jesus’ dinner party in Mark 2.

Go to our website for more details.

Did you know that doing lunch is doing theology?

Did you know that doing lunch is doing theology?

Christ Presbyterian Church is a new gospel-centered church plant in Mansfield TX, committed to loving God, connecting people, serving our community and reaching the world with the transforming power of the #gospel. Currently we are meeting Sundays at 10am, at Asa Low Intermediate School on the corner of Debbie Lane and Walnut Creek Rd.

Check out our Google Page and give us some Google love (+1 and a Comment or a Share) – https://plus.google.com/107080448998086749896/posts/LG4fjnZ9XJr

And “Like” us on the book of faces: https://www.facebook.com/CPCMansfield

Discipleship? A Realignment Process or Product to Develop?

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What comes to your mind when you hear the word “discipleship”?

If you’ve had any exposure to this concept, you may have had either a great, positive experience, or perhaps a negative one. If it’s the later, let me offer one possible reason why that was.

Discipleship was seen as means of creating a product, instead of a person.

Maybe it was a convert to a “tribe” or a leader in a particular “system”. The end, or the product, was another “part” added to something that probably had very little to do with you – who you are and what you were designed for.

That’s the difference between legitimate discipleship. It’s a process of realigning a person back to their original design of living as a human being – a creature in a true, good and beautiful relationship with his (or her) Creator.

In my reading and studies for the sermon on Mark 1:14-20 this week at Christ Presbyterian Church, Mansfield, I stumbled upon this great statement in the ESV Gospel Transformation Study Bible. It’s rare that I find something truly significant in a one-stop study Bible, but this particular Study Bible has surprised me many times. This quote is but one example. It gets at the heart of what the call of discipleship is from Christ – a call to be brought back into alignment with the design for which we were created – to love and worship God, and have every area of life brought back into that alignment.

“In Christ, God calls people to return to “walking with God”—the creational design of human beings in the first place. Jesus’ call to discipleship is God calling human beings back to himself as the foundation of true and dignified human existence….This is the rhythm of grace. God does not respond to our wayward rebellion with disgust, throwing his hands up in the air. He pursues us in love. This is who he is.” – ESV Gospel Transformation Study Bible, note on Mark 1:16-46.

Question: What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of “discipleship”? How does this line of thought add to your understanding of what we see as discipleship in the life and ministry of Jesus?

Links for the ESV Gospel Transformation Study Bible – Kindle and Hardcover editions.

Something Greater is Here (Mark 2:3-17)

Paralytic Man Lowered in the Midst of the Crowds Before Jesus

Jesus continues his public ministry and the crowds keep coming to him.  People are expecting him to do great and good works and they can’t get enough.  That’s what makes this episode about a man being lowered into the middle of a very crowded house so fascinating.  First, imagine you’re crowded into the home of Jesus along with everyone else, and suddenly you notice part of the roof collapsing.

Homes in Jesus’ day in Capernaum would have been constructed largely with some wooden beams and mud-patch work for the roof.  As this band of friends climbed up the roof and began to carve into the mud in order to lower their paralytic friend, they undoubtedly would have caused a commotion down below.  Mud pieces falling from the ceiling, maybe bits of straw or hay scattering around the room.  As their eyes were directed upwards, they notice several sets of eyes in a circle in the newly formed skylight, and then a man being lowered on a mat. You may think, “What never!” or “What boldness!” but the fact is that everybody notices and everyone is thinking something.

What do you think Jesus was thinking?  It was after all his home that just had the roof torn open so that a helpless man could get help.  Jesus tells us what he was thinking: while some were thinking “What nerve!” and others were thinking “What boldness!” Jesus was thinking “What faith!”  These men believed that if they could just get their paralyzed friend in front of Jesus, his life would be different.  He would be healed.  He wouldn’t need to be carried along by his friends anymore.  He could be restored to a healthy, vibrant life.  And they were right.  That is what happens when people meet Jesus.  With Jesus, life gets restored and things get set back to the way they are supposed to be.

So Jesus speaks to the paralytic man and says, ”Be healed?”  No!  He tells the man that his “sins are forgiven.”  What was Jesus doing here?  Jesus is meeting the man’s need in a way that neither the man, nor his friends, nor anyone else in the house expected – he is meeting his need for forgiveness of sin.  Tim Keller is helpful in understanding what is going on when he writes:

Jesus knows something the man doesn’t know—that he has a much bigger problem than his physical condition. Jesus is saying to him, “I understand your problems. I have seen your suffering. I’m going to get to that. But please realize that the main problem in a person’s life is never his suffering; it’s his sin.” If you find Jesus’s response offensive, please at least consider this: If someone says to you, “The main problem in your life is not what’s happened to you, not what people have done to you; your main problem is the way you’ve responded to that”—ironically, that’s empowering. Why? Because you can’t do very much about what’s happened to you or about what other people are doing—but you can do something about yourself. When the Bible talks about sin it is not just referring to the bad things we do. It’s not just lying or lust or whatever the case may be—it is ignoring God in the world he has made; it’s rebelling against him by living without reference to him. It’s saying, “I will decide exactly how I live my life.” And Jesus says that is our main problem. (Tim Keller, King’s Cross, 25-26)

Jesus isn’t denying that the man needs healing in a physical sense, but he is challenging everyone’s notion that Jesus is a really good guy, doing some really good things.  He’s more than that. New Testament scholar N.T. Wright links the authority Jesus claims for himself, with the authority promised to “one like a son of man,” in Daniel 7, where:

There, ‘one like a son of man’ is the representative of God’s true people. He is opposed by the forces of evil; but God vindicates him, rescues him, proves him to be in the right, and gives him authority. In Daniel, this authority enables him to dispense God’s judgment. Here, in a fascinating twist, he has authority to dispense God’s forgiveness. (N.T. Wright, Mark for Everyone, 17).

Jesus by forgiving the man’s sins is claiming to be the one promised by God to battle against the forces of evil that conspire against God and His people.  Jesus is saying that He’s one with the authority of God, and this demands a response.

Well this episode certainly provoked a response among the scribes, or religious professionals.  They got the message and were questioning whether Jesus had the authority to do what he was claiming to do.  If this man’s problem was a sin-problem, then his friends should have taken him through the proper channels.  Forgiveness is something only God can offer, and if that was what this man needed, he needed to be brought to the Temple in Jerusalem, in front of the credentialed priests; not a wandering preacher and healer in his home?

Jesus does the unthinkable.  He doesn’t just claim this authority for himself, but he wields it.  He executes his authority and the result is the man who was once paralyzed, now picks up his mat and walks away.  Something greater than the Temple and someone greater than their priests is now here.

Mark tells us that “they were all amazed and glorified God” and said “We never say anything like this before!” (Mark 2:12).  That’s because no one and nothing like Jesus had ever been seen before. He is the long-awaited “one like a son of man” to oppose evil in all it’s forms, and do for God’s people what they could not do for themselves.