Don’t choke on your holy highlighter! Love outside the lines.

 Mark 2:1-12

“Why does this man speak like that?….” v. 7

Once again Jesus finds himself speaking to a packed house. Some looking for help, some looking for hope, some just looking. In addition to the standard crowd some new guests have arrived. Some of the scholars of the day, having heard strange things about this teacher, came to check him out, and hear what he had to say. They were the scribes, the authorities on matters of the law. They had to make sure that this miracle working preacher was dotting the I’s correctly. Armed with scrolls and holy highlighters, they were checking Jesus out, to make sure he was doctrinally sound. After all, you can’t have people going around making unauthorized statements about God. They were there to protect and defend the truth. Suddenly, a short while into Jesus teaching, a loud pop from above broke everyone’s attention. A shaft of sunlight and dust poured into the center of the house. People screamed, thinking raiders were breaking in or something. Eventually, after tearing an opening large enough, the panic turned to uneasy laughter. Eyes darted everywhere, some to the owner of the house, with jaw dangling in disbelief, others to Jesus, who was unusually calm, in fact he seemed a little amused-delighted even, then others, to a stretcher being lowered by four sweaty, and slightly nervous men. When the dust settled, all eyes were set on a paralyzed man lying on the stretcher, who just looked relieved that nobody had dropped him. “Thanks guys.”

Jesus looked at the man and his friends. The scripture says, “when he saw their faith, he said to  the paralytic, ‘son, your sins are forgiven.’ ” Up until now we haven’t heard much from the scribes. They had been pretty quiet up to this point. But when they heard Jesus use the “F” word (forgiven) the heresy alarm sounded deep within them. “What!” they thought to themselves, “Who has the right to forgive people, except God?” On the outside they maintained their composure, smiling nicely to keep up appearances, but underneath the surface, they were seething. “You can’t just go around forgiving people!” Turning mentally through the protocol for sacrifice and forgiveness according to Levitical teaching, they found no scriptural basis for Jesus to make such a statement. Then Jesus really blows everyone’s  mind by showing that he has authority on earth not only to forgive, but to heal and deliver. He says to the man, “Get up and walk.” and he did. Sometimes I think Jesus got a kick out of ticking off religious experts by healing and forgiving outside the lines. That seems to be his way. While the rest of us are sitting around with our holy highlighters and big Bibles making sure everyone jumps through our doctrinal hoops, before we give them love, Jesus is looking for faith, and forgiving outside the lines.

Most of us live outside the lines don’t we? We try to live by faith, and obedience to God, but quite honestly, we all find ourselves falling short and messing things up. Sometimes we get so far from God we have to tear a hole in the roof and fall down paralyzed, before him (hopefully we have friends who hold the ropes for us from time to time.) and hope for his help. We come to Jesus outside the lines where we need him the most. And he is there, seeing what faith we have, chuckling lovingly at the hole we made in the roof, and offering forgiveness and healing outside the lines. Have you fallen outside the lines today? Feel like you’ve made an irreparable mess of things…again? Feeling helpless and everyone’s mercy? Don’t let the experts with their holy highlighters keep you down. Just come by faith, trust in his forgiveness, then get up and walk.

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