In Mark’s gospel, physical healings and miracles, done by Jesus, parallel a spiritual reality in his followers. For example, Jesus healed the blind man at Bethsaida (Mark 8) who could only partially see to begin with, and this parallels Peter’s growing but partial understanding of who the Christ is. In chapter 10, the healing of blind Bartimaeus, comes between Jesus’ teaching on his coming to serve, by giving his life as a ransom for many, and his entrance into Jerusalem as King. Those with eyes could see.
I believe that a similar physical parallel exists in Mark 2, perfectly illustrating the nature of true faith.
As the four men lowered their paralysed friend from the roof, we are told “When Jesus saw their faith.” The physical reality of this situation reveals a spiritual parallel.
First, the men were drawn to Jesus and their faith did not let obstacles get in their way of coming to him. There was a packed room, an impenetrable crowd and the pressure of social etiquette (you don’t dig holes in the roof of other peoples’ homes) which stood in the way of the men, but none of those obstacles stopped them coming to Christ. There is an irresistible pull, draw, attraction when Christ is revealed to us and no obstacles can get in the way of our being drawn to him when true faith appears.
Second, the paralysed man dangled helplessly from the roof. His resting in the mat on which he was carried, secured by ropes and held by his friends, showed something physical about the nature of faith. He was helpless, paralysed. He depended on his mat, the ropes and his friends. We come to Christ as those who are helpless. We are spiritually paralysed by our sin, fear, anxiety, past failures, anger, resentment, self pity, pride, the list goes on. True faith rests in Christ. True faith depends on him. He has an unbreakable hold of the rope, which stops us plunging into the fires of hell, and he will never let it/us go.
Third, true faith in Christ results in the forgiveness of sin, by faith alone, not by works. “When Jesus saw their faith, he said “Son, your sins are forgiven.” The paralysed man is like the man on the cross. He is unable to do any good works. The paralysed man rests in his mat, unable to do anything except trust.
Fourth, true faith is like a jigsaw puzzle with no edge pieces. The paralysed man came to Christ for healing he left with the forgiveness of sin and healing. Christ added forgiveness of sin, like an extra puzzle piece. When we come to Christ, we come with limited knowledge. As our knowledge grows, true faith grows too. Christ adds piece after piece of the puzzle. To healing and forgiveness, are added, in different orders for each of us, true knowledge of eternal life, adoption, redemption, sanctification, imputed righteousness, purity, love, holiness and so on (see 25 benefits of faith union with Christ and the 12 rare privileges of the children of God). I have found that as the puzzle expands, the pieces get smaller, more nuanced, and just as I believe the puzzle is about to be completed, more pieces appear. The paralysis of my fears, anxieties, past failures, sin, anger and so on find their corresponding and healing truth in Christ.
When Christ brings that healing, then I can go out with joy, giving him the glory.