Lesson 4 October 19-25
Read For This Week's Study: Mark 2:1-12; Ps. 147:3; lsa. 35:3-6.
Memory Verse: The Lord "forgives all your iniquity. . . . [and] heals all your diseases" (Psalm 103:3, RSV).
Key Thought: Human beings are created in the image of God with intimately related physical, mental, social, and spiritual characteristics. The Healer of Israel has the authority to forgive sin, and the power to heal.
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Sabbath Afternoon October 19
The Healing Power Of The Gospel. "This world is a vast lazar house, but Christ came to heal the sick, to proclaim deliverance to the captives of Satan. He was, in Himself, health and strength. He imparted His life to the sick, the afflicted, those possessed of demons. He turned away none who came to receive His healing power. He knew that those who petitioned Him for help had brought disease upon themselves; yet He did not refuse to heal them. And when virtue from Christ entered into these poor souls, they were convicted of sin, and many were healed of their spiritual disease, as well as of their physical maladies. The gospel still possesses the same power, and why should we not today witness the same results?
"Christ feels the woes of every sufferer. When evil spirits rend a human frame, Christ feels the curse. When fever is burning up the life current, He feels the agony. And He is just as willing to heal the sick now as when He was personally on earth. Christ's servants are His representatives, the channels for his working. He desires through them to exercise His healing power" --The Desire of Ages, pp.823, 824.
Sunday October 19
The Paralytic (Mark 2:1-12).
What was the physical condition of the person brought to Jesus? Mark 2:3.
Scripture does not provide a definitive diagnosis, other than to refer to this person as a "paralytic." We may speculate that he suffered from a muscle-wasting disease, such as muscular dystrophy, or a neurological disorder, such as multiple sclerosis or polio. Whatever the cause, apparently he was bedridden and unable to move independently. Ellen White suggests that his condition had been deteriorating for some time and that he was experiencing the final stages of his disease.
What do we understand regarding his mental state? "This paralytic had lost all hope of recovery . . . He had long before appealed to the . . . doctors, hoping for relief from mental suffering and physical pain. But they coldly pronounced him incurable. . . . The palsied man was entirely helpless, and, seeing no prospect of aid from any quarter, he had sunk into despair." --The Desire of Ages, p.267.
In what way did this man's religious beliefs affect his illness? "The Pharisees regarded affliction as an evidence of divine displeasure, and they held themselves aloof from the sick and the needy."--The Desire of Ages, p.267.
The paralytic was convinced that his disease was the result of a life of sin; the burden of guilt and remorse was superimposed upon the physical pain that accompanied his every waking moment. He was rejected by his church and felt cut off from God, unforgiven, unloved, hopeless.
How did news about the Healer affect him? What was his primary motive in seeking out the Healer?
"It was not physical restoration he desired so much as relief from the burden of sin. If he could see Jesus, and receive the assurance of forgiveness and peace with Heaven. he would be content to live or die, according to God's will. The cry of the dying man was, Oh that I might come into His presence!"--The Desire of Ages, p.267.
Are you comfortable visiting someone who is dying? What do you say? What do you think the dying person might feel when you speak to him or her?
Monday October 20
The Friends (Mark 2:3-5).
In what ways did the friends of the paralytic contribute to his healing? Mark 2:3-5.
"When we honestly ask ourselves which persons in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is [they are] those who, instead of giving much advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a gentle and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not-knowing, not-curing, not-healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is the friend who cares."--Henri Nouwen, Out of Solitude (Notre Dame Campus, Ind: Ave Maria, 1974).
His friends became arms and hands and legs and feet for the paralytic. They provided strength for his weakness and mobility for his confinement. In a very practical way, they met his immediate physical need.
Brought him to Jesus:
Ellen White indicates that it was his friends who told the paralytic about Jesus and encouraged him to believe that he might he healed. When he asked to be carried to the Healer, they gladly responded.
Removal of Barriers:
"Again and again the bearers of the paralytic tried to push their way through the crowd, but in vain. The sick man looked about him in utter anguish. . . At his suggestion his friends bore him to the top of the house and, breaking up the roof, let him down at the feet of Jesus." --The Desire of Ages, p.268.
Scripture records that when Jesus saw "their faith," He responded with words of forgiveness and healing. By their presence in his life, their willingness to carry his load, their initiative in bringing him to Jesus, their persistence in breaking down barriers, and their expression of faith, The friends of the paralytic contributed to his healing.
Do you have a friend in need of healing? If you do, how can you become a source of healing for your friend?
Tuesday October 21
The Healer (Mark 2:5).
What were the first words of Jesus to the paralytic? Mark 2:5. How was this statement received by the "teachers of the law"? Mark 2:6, 7, NIV.
"The first thing Jesus does for everyone of us is to say, 'Child, God is not angry with you. Come home, and don't be afraid.' "--William Barclay, The Gospel of Mark (Philadelphia, Pa.: Westminster Press, 1975), p.48.
"The Pharisees caught at these words as blasphemy, and conceived that they could present this as a sin worthy of death."--The Desire of Ages, p. 269.
Why were Jesus' words so offensive to the teachers?
"The pronouncement was startling because it seemed inappropriate and even irrelevant to the immediate situation. It is intelligible, however, against the background provided by the OT where sin and disease, forgiveness and healing are frequently interrelated concepts. Healing is conditioned by the forgiveness of God and is often the demonstration of that forgiveness . . . . Healing is a gracious movement of God into the sphere of withering and decay which are the tokens of death at work in man's life. It was not God's intention that man should live with the pressure of death upon him. Sickness, disease and death are the consequence of the sinful condition of all men. Consequently every healing is a driving back of death and an invasion of the province of sin. ... Jesus' pronouncement of pardon is the recognition that man can be genuinely whole only when the breach occasioned by sin has been healed through God's forgiveness of sins" --William L. Lane, "The Gospel of Mark," The New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1974), p. 94
In what way did Jesus magnify the dilemma of belief for the teachers? Mark 2:9.
"Apparently the scribes were thinking, 'It is easy to say that a man's sins are forgiven, for no one can really tell whether they are.' Jesus Immediately took up their unspoken challenge and, in substance, inquired: 'Which would you find easier, to forgive a man's sins or to heal him of paralysis?' The answer was obvious."--SDA Bible Commentary, vol.5, p. 581.
Wednesday October 22
The Healing, (Mark 2:10-12).
What is the theological significance of the words chosen by Jesus to speak healing to the paralytic? Mark 2:10, 11.
"The usual Greek word for "power," in the sense of "might" or "strength," is dunamis. To work a miracle required power, but the forgiveness of sin was a matter of authority. In the present passage, exousia [authority] stands at the beginning of the clause, and so emphasizes Christ's authority to forgive sin." --SDA Bible Commentary, vol.5, p. 581.
What was the response of the paralytic to Jesus' words? Mark 2:12.
"Then he who had been borne on a litter to Jesus rises to his feet with the elasticity and strength of youth. The life-giving blood bounds through his veins. Every organ of his body springs into sudden activity. The glow of health succeeds the pallor of approaching death." --The Desire of Ages, p. 269.
What is the inescapable conclusion of these events?
"It required nothing less than creative power to restore health to that decaying body. The same voice that spoke life to man created from the dust of the earth had spoken life to the dying paralytic. And the same power that gave life to the body had renewed the heart. . . .
"The paralytic found in Christ healing for both the soul and the body. The spiritual healing was followed by physical restoration. This lesson should not be overlooked. There are today thousands suffering from physical disease, who, like the paralytic, are longing for the message, Thy sins are forgiven.' The burden of sin, with its unrest and unsatisfied desires, is the foundation of their maladies. They can find no relief until they come to the Healer of the soul." --The Desire of Ages, pp. 269, 270.
What was the main purpose of this miracle? Discuss how this miracle sheds light on the relationship between healing and forgiveness. What does this relationship suggest regarding the relevance of Christian faith for the sick? Which is more important, healing or forgiveness? Why?
Thursday October 23
Every day around the world, people come to Adventist hospitals and clinics seeking healing. They have a myriad of illnesses, injuries. and hurts, including heart disease, cancer, mental illness, AIDS, liver failure, and broken bones.
What is the ultimate cause of all illness? Rom. 5:12.
The truth of the human condition is that all have sinned and all are subject to disease and death. Unwise lifestyle choices increase the risk of experiencing a variety of diseases; it is also true that healthful choices provide no guarantee against the assault of disease.
How should Christian healers relate to people whose disease appears to be the result of an unwise or sinful lifestyle? Rom. 5:17.
Every person suffering from illness, regardless of its apparent or supposed cause, is beloved of God. Every sick or dying one offers an opportunity for Christian healers to communicate hope, grace, and peace.
"This hope can take many forms. One can offer the patient the hope that his disease will not follow the usual course . . [or] the hope that people are concerned for the patient's comfort and enough resources are available to minimize pain and suffering. . . . Spiritual hope can sustain the dying when no reasonable physical hope remains. . . a strong sense of life's purpose and ultimate reward can carry one through the worst stages of an illness."---Kenneth H. Fishbeck, M.D., Journal of Christian Healing. vol.7, no.1, p.9.
The Healer's Gift: "I needed a friend. .. Someone who was willing to be stretched to the limit of love, of trust, of yielding to God's promptings. Someone willing to stretch out his arms like Jesus on the Cross to embrace the whole of me: my hurts, fears, ugliness, sinfulness . . . to see the blossom in the yet-uncracked seed, to see the wholeness where only brokenness showed, to see Jesus' hand reaching out from me for a companion to walk with ..... I needed a friend, and Jesus gave me YOU."--Maryanne Marx, Journal of Christian Healing, vol. 7, no.1, p. 10.
Friday October 24
Further Study: Read The Desire of Ages, pp. 267-271.
There are at least five distinct individuals or groups represented in the account we have considered: the paralytic, his friends, the crowd, the Healer, and the critics.
There are positive physiological consequences to love, hope, joy, and mental peace. Negative physical consequences result from depression and despair.
"The paralytic found in Christ healing for both the soul and the body. He needed health of soul before he could appreciate health of body. Before the physical malady could be healed, Christ must bring relief to the mind, and cleanse the soul from sin. This lesson should not be overlooked. There are today thousands suffering from physical disease who, like the paralytic, are longing for the message, 'Thy sins are forgiven.' The burden of sin, with its unrest and unsatisfied desires, is the foundation of their maladies. They can find no relief until they come to the Healer of the soul. The peace which He alone can impart would restore vigor to the mind and health to the body."--The Ministry of Healing, p.77.
Summary: Jesus healed the paralytic as a demonstration of His power to heal physically, as well as His authority to forgive sins. Because he was forgiven, the sick man was enabled to accept the blessing of healing. Our role is to cooperate with Jesus in bringing spiritual healing to those who may or may not be restored to physical health.
Recently four precious people were baptized in the little Adventist church in Niamey, Niger. Following the baptism, Ali, a church member, shared this story
He and his family had tied the country of Mali as refugees. They had traveled to several countries looking for work and a safe place to live. Then Ali heard of an organization called ADRA, in Niger. He contacted ADRA, hoping that someone could help him. He met the local pastor, who listened to Ali's story and offered him hope. When Ali revealed that he was searching for answers to spiritual questions, the pastor gave him some material to read. Ali accepted the material and later began studying a Bible correspondence course. As he studied, he found answers to many of his questions.
Ali wanted to tell his wife, Adama, about his new discoveries, but was not sure how. She was a faithful Muslim. Finally he decided to invite her to church on Sabbath morning. When they arrived at church, Adama was shocked. "How could you do this?" she demanded. "This is terrible! You have brought me to a Christian church!" Adama went home, packed her belongings, and returned to her village.
Ali was confused. What had he done? A few days later Ali was summoned to appear before the marabous (Koran teachers) to answer his wife's charges. They tried to convince him to give up his interest in Christianity. "What you did was very serious," they told him. "With Christians we do not even eat!"
Ali told them simply. "One day the Lord will judge me and my choices. And my wife alone must decide whether to return to me and our children or to give up the family forever."
Adama returned home to her family, but was not interested in Christianity. Ali was becoming discouraged. His problem seemed too big to handle, he was ready to give up Christianity.
On Christmas morning Adama asked her husband, "What gift do you have for me?" Noting the look of surprise on his face, she continued, 'I know that Christians give gifts on Christmas." But Ali had no gifts to give that day. "Never mind," Adama answered. "I have a gift for you.. I will come to church with you."
Ali was thrilled when his wife joined him for church. Later she began Bible Studies. And on that Sabbath day Adama was baptized. For Ali it was the best gift!
David Ferraro is president of the Niger Mission in the Sahel Union of West Africa.
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