Thursday, March 8, 2012

Saved by Grace Through Another's Faith

How much does your faith or my faith play in the salvation of another?  Mark 2:1-12 speaks to this in a rich way as demonstrated through the determination of four friends.
And when [Jesus] returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. *  And many were gathered together, so that there was no more room, not even at the door.  And he was preaching the word to them.  And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men.  And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him, and when they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay.  And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “My son, your sins are forgiven.”
Though early in his ministry, Jesus' reputation was already established, attracting those who desired good news of the kingdom or a healing touch, as well as those hoping to satiate their curiosity of this new rabbi.  On this occasion many were crowded around the door of the house, so much so that entry was impossible.  A person has to appreciate the tenacity and temerity put forth by these four men to get the paralytic to him.  Roofs at this time were flat and covered with tiles: time and energy were required to make an opening large enough to lower a person.  The paralytic, having been unable to come before Jesus on his own, was brought by his friends.  Upon seeing their faith, not that of the paralytic, Jesus pronounces his sins forgiven.  The man's greatest need was met first.  This is also our need.  Scripture tells us that we are dead in trespasses and sin (Eph 2:1) and completely unrighteous (Rom 3:10).  There is no ability you and I have in order to gain God's favor.  In ourselves, we are unclean, so that any attempt is no better than a polluted garment (Isa 64:6) having the same worth as rubbish (Phil 3:8).  It is only the Lord Jesus who has atoned for sin and whose righteousness is imputed to our behalf.

Is my faith the catalyst for this great work of grace?  How often we hear well-meaning or so-called Bible teachers tell us that the individual desiring a blessing must have the faith.  Not so.  Here we have a clear word that the faith of another is honored.  How does this truth manifest itself today?

An explicit reference is found concerning the family where one spouse is a believer, but the other is not:
For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband.  Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.  (1 Cor 7:14)
Here we see the faith of the believing spouse has a sanctifying effect on the entire household.  All are touched as God honors the union because of one.

An implicit reference can be made to the act of spreading the gospel.  Unbelievers are brought to Jesus any time we expose them to the word of God.  When doing so, do we have the assurance of their sins forgiven?  Sadly, not, because the gospel may be rejected.  The promise we do have is that God has said of his word that
it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.  (Isa 55:11)

Reading the rest of the Mark 2 passage, did the paralytic have faith?  Apparently he did at the end when he got up and walked out.  Before that we have no idea, but we would expect this.  God gives faith through his word on account of Jesus' finished work on the cross.  The one who, like the paralytic, has had his sins forgiven needs only live in the certainty of the promise delivered to him and exercise the faith given him through the Savior who promised.

* Early in his ministry, Jesus used this house in Capernaum as his base of operations.  From Luke's account, only Peter, Andrew, James, and John had been called to follow him at this time.

No comments: