Today’s January 11 daily devotional reveals the central message of Christianity.
Have you noticed a strange phenomenon in recent years: people categorically refuse to acknowledge God, but at the same time, they create for themselves a religion without God, which we can call healthy living, ecology, esotericism, human rights activism, and many other forms of progressive “religion.”
Yes, these are critical topics. But these people are becoming fierce, like real religious fanatics.
What would have happened if Christianity had also turned into a religion of healthy living and healing? And the temptation is always there.
Devotional for Today January 11
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, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” (full text at Mark 2:1–12)
Remember Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness in Matthew 4. Satan offers Jesus: turn these stones into bread, for you are hungry.
The Gospel of the World
If Jesus had succumbed to the temptation, Christianity would have become a gospel of success, a religion of success that teaches how to be healthy, how to be rich, and how to have a short career.
Devotional for every day here: Daily Devotional
In other words, a gospel of how to give oneself entirely to this world, to become a child of this world, without thinking about the Kingdom of God.
Satan would be pleased to achieve this result!
And the temptation is powerful. After all, what could be more important than health? So the most popular wish for every occasion is: I wish you health and money!
It may seem that all we have to do is respond to market demand, and churches will be full of people.
The Gospel of Jesus
But Jesus was radically opposed to this commerce and rottenness of faith.
Yes, Jesus himself healed. But, furthermore, he gave his disciples, the whole Church, the charism of healing as a gift of the Holy Spirit.
But the substance must remain the substance. Healing, in Christianity, is only one of the means. Healing is not the goal.
We see this in today’s passage from Mark’s Gospel. The story begins with Jesus preaching the Word in a house full of people. I believe he was talking about the Kingdom of God and the forgiveness of sins for those who accept God’s grace.
And then an unforeseen situation happens. Four men bring a paralyzed man. No obstacle can stop them. They even tear down the roof to take their friend to Jesus.
And notice the outrage is not about the house’s roof being destroyed. But because of the forgiveness of sins!
Scribes and religious leaders are outraged at Jesus. Their theological assessment is that Jesus blasphemed. This accusation will be leveled at Jesus, calling for the death penalty. (Matthew 26:65–66)
The Central Message of Christianity
Yes, Jesus forgives sins. And yes, Jesus forgives the sins of anyone who repents from the heart and resolves not to sin again. Yes, Jesus opens the gates of the Kingdom of God to every repentant sinner.
Yes, because Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and God Himself is taking on human flesh. That is the point. It is what is central to Christianity. And that is the central message of Christianity.
The person with paralysis was healed. He took his stretcher and went home, happy and healthy.
But the point of the healing was not the disease, not the paralysis. The most crucial step in this fantastic story was the forgiveness of sins. And the restoration of physical health was just a bonus. A great bonus!
Prayer for Today
Lord Jesus, you are the hope and strength of those who suffer. You are the source not only of health but also of life. Do not let us lose our way spiritually and turn our faith into cheap commerce. Instead, help us focus on the heart of our faith every day. Help us to always accept God’s love and the forgiveness of sins as the most precious gift. You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit forever. Amen.
Also read: Devotional for January 10