“Jesus and the Paralytic”
February 13, 2022
Faith Presbyterian Church – Morning Service
The Reading of the Word
This morning, we continue in the Gospel of Mark, as we come to Mark 2:1-12.
Please do listen carefully, for this is God’s word for us this morning.
2:1 And when he [that is, Jesus,] returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. 2 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. 3 And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. 4 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. 5 And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” 6 Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, 7 “Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” 8 And immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to them, “Why do you question these things in your hearts? 9 Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk’? 10 But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the paralytic— 11 “I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.” 12 And he rose and immediately picked up his bed and went out before them all, so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!”
This is the word of the Lord. (Thanks be to God.)
“All people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord endures forever.” [1 Peter 1:24-25]
Let’s pray …
Prayer of Illumination
Lord, how can we keep our way pure?
By guarding it according to your Word.
Help us now to seek you with our whole hearts.
Keep us from wandering from your commandments.
Let us store up your word in our hearts,
so that we might not turn from you.
We ask this in Jesus’s name. Amen.
[Based on Psalm 119:9-11]
At the end of chapter one, Jesus was ministering out in the desolate places. Now, he has returned to Capernaum and is ministering from a house. And central to his ministry, we are reminded in verse two, is his preaching. [Edwards, 76]
And we know from Mark chapter one that Jesus’s preaching was centered on the kingdom of God, and a call to people to repent and believe.
And so it’s fitting that one of the themes of what follows here is: the nature of true faith.
As Jesus is approached by four men carrying a paralytic, the events that ensue will demonstrate four things about the nature of true faith.
Faith Is Active
The first thing we see is that true faith is active.
We read in verses three through five: “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, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven.’”
These five men approach Jesus, but they are from the beginning distinguished from the crowd. In Mark’s gospel, the crowds that gather around Jesus are often ambivalent at best. They may be interested in hearing. They may be astounded by seeing. But there is no assumption in Mark that they have true faith – that they are disciples of Jesus. Even here, they serve primarily as an obstacle to the five men. [Edwards, 74-75]
The four men, and the paralytic, by contrast, are active. They are not satisfied simply to gather with the crowd, but they seek to make their way to Jesus.
Roofs of homes in Palestine at the time were usually flat, and accessible by an outside stone staircase. The roofs were supported by beams, but also made up of sticks, thatch, and mud. And they often functioned for people then like a deck or patio might for us today. [Edwards, 74]
So, the men, actively seeking Jesus, take the external staircase up to the roof, and dig through the thatch and mud of the home’s ceiling, and then lower the paralytic before Jesus. In verse five it says that Jesus saw their faith.
And here it is worth pausing and asking: How did Jesus see their faith?
While we’re reminded in verse eight that Jesus can discern what others are thinking in their hearts, we’re not told he did that here. Instead, it seems clear that Jesus saw their faith in their concrete actions – the work they did, despite the challenges, to get their friend before Jesus. [Horne, 48]
“That,” one commentator, notes, “is a description of faith: it will remove any obstacle – even a roof, if necessary – to get to Jesus.” [Edwards, 75]
And those obstacles may include social respectability. These men made a disruption – their digging through the roof likely rained down mud and debris on those in the house. But they did it anyway. Because they knew that getting to Jesus was far more important than what those others in the house might think of them. [Edwards, 75]
It is striking that this is the first mention of faith in Mark’s gospel. And he draws our attention not to the thoughts or the feelings of the men, but to their actions: their active pursuit of Jesus, which showed their faith that Jesus was sufficient for their deepest needs. [Edwards, 76]
And so, the first thing we see here is that true faith is active.
Faith Is Passive
The second thing we see here is that true faith is passive.
Because at the center of this story, is, of course, a paralytic being carried before Jesus – an overt and obvious sign of the utter dependency of faith.
It is clear that this man has nothing to offer Jesus. There is nothing he can do for Jesus. He cannot heal himself with just a little help from Jesus, and there is nothing he can give Jesus in exchange for healing. The paralytic is completely dependent. He could not even carry himself to Jesus – he had to be carried. And then, as he lay before Jesus, it is obvious that there is nothing he can do but receive.
In this, he gives us an important second picture, and second truth, about the nature of true faith. Faith is passive – in the sense that it does not earn, it does not merit, it does not achieve, but it simply receives.
Our shorter catechism summarizes this well. It says: “Faith in Jesus Christ is a saving grace, whereby we receive and rest upon him alone for salvation, as he is offered to us in the gospel.”
“Receive and rest upon him.” These are not terms of striving or achieving. They are terms of passive reception. To “receive” is not to achieve. To “rest upon” is not to carry a burden with some help, but to let our burden fall onto Jesus, because we know we cannot carry it ourselves.
Now, we may want to ask: How does this fit with the first point we observed? How can it be true that true faith is active and that true faith is passive?
On one level we could try to parse that out. But on another, what we have here, more than a puzzle to be deciphered, are two truths to be embraced. As Pastor Rayburn will be exploring in his Sunday school series that starts this morning, the Bible quite often proclaims to us two truths that we have trouble bringing together – two realities that, as we consider them, we struggle to comprehend how they can both be true. This is so not only when we consider the nature of our Triune God, and the reality of the incarnation, but also when we see what the Bible has to say about our salvation and the Christian life.
And here too we have two truths that the Bible calls us not to solve, but to embrace: true saving faith is active, and at the same time, true saving faith is passive and receptive.
Those are the first two things we see about true faith here in our passage.
Faith Is Willing to Trust Jesus to Know What We Most Need
Third, we see here that true faith is willing to trust Jesus to know what we most need.
The text takes a funny turn in verse five. The men go through all this trouble to get their paralyzed friend before Jesus. And in verse five we read: “When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven.’”
Commentators offer several possibilities for why Jesus here speaks of the forgiveness of sins rather than healing. There is merit in each suggestion. [Edwards, 77]
But I find Tim Keller especially persuasive when he argues that what Jesus is doing here is raising a contrast between what the man most wants, and what the man most needs.
When Jesus responds first with forgiveness of sins, rather than with healing, we can imagine the man responding with something like. “Ok. That’s great. Thank you. But that’s not what I’m here for. I’m paralyzed. I’ve got a more immediate problem.”
“But,” Keller writes, “in fact Jesus knows something the man doesn’t know – that he has a much bigger problem than his physical condition. Jesus is saying to him, ‘I understand your problems. I have seen your suffering. I’m going to get to that. But please realize that the main problem in a person’s life is never his suffering; it’s his sin.” [Keller, Jesus, the King, 29-30]
In other words, we can each see aspects of our lives that we believe are not the way they should be. And sometimes we are right … and sometimes we are wrong. But either way, those elements of brokenness are never our biggest problem. Our biggest problem – our foundational problem – is the sin in our lives which separates us from God. A repaired relationship with God is the thing that we most need. Everything else we desire is always secondary.
But we don’t always see that clearly. Which means that the things we most want in life, are often not the things that we most need.
What You Want Won’t Make You Alright
Keller, reflecting on this story, writes: “Everyone who is paralyzed naturally wants with every fiber of his being to walk. But surely this man would have been resting all of his hopes on the possibility of walking again. In his heart he’s almost surely saying, ‘If only I could walk again, then I would be set for life. I’d never be unhappy, I would never complain. If only I could walk, then everything would be right.’ And Jesus [here] is saying, ‘My son, you’re mistaken.’ That may sound harsh, but it’s profoundly true. Jesus [essentially] says, ‘When I heal your body, if that’s all I do, you’ll feel you’ll never be unhappy again. But wait two months, four months – the euphoria won’t last. The roots of the discontent of the human heart goes deep.” [Keller, 30-31]
Writer Cynthia Heimel reflects on this same reality as she considers the phenomenon of celebrity and fame in our culture. She explains the pattern we often see with those who find success in Hollywood. They had once been struggling actors, working day jobs to pay the bills, and trying to make it. They were stressed and driven, and easily upset as they strove towards this goal. But they believed that if they ever made it – if they became successful and famous, then they’d be happy.
But when they actually got the fame they longed for, they instead often became insufferable: unstable, angry, manic. They became, amazingly enough, less happy than they had been before. [Heimel; see also Keller summary in Jesus the King, 31]
“I pity celebrities. No, I do. [Celebrities] were once perfectly pleasant human beings […]
“But now […] their wrath is awful. It’s not what they had in mind. […]
“[They,] more than any of us, wanted fame. They worked [and] they pushed […] in their desperate need.
The night each of them became famous they wanted to shriek with relief. Finally! Now they were adored! Invincible! Magic!
“The morning after the night each of them became famous they wanted to take an overdose of barbiturates.
“All their fantasies had been realized, yet the reality was still the same. If they were miserable before, they were twice as miserable now, because that giant thing they were striving for, that fame thing that was going to make everything okay, that was going to make their lives bearable, that was going to provide them with personal fulfillment and […] happiness, had happened. And nothing changed. They were still them. The disillusionment turned them howling and insufferable.” [Heimel]
And, of course, celebrities are only one set of examples. The news and history are filled with examples of people who get exactly what they wanted – exactly what they had been striving for. But the result is not a long list of people who found deep and profound fulfillment, but rather a list of people who went on to struggle with addiction, and paranoia, and anxiety, and depression. In the lives of others, we have overwhelming evidence that getting what we most want in this world won’t actually make us happy.
Yet we keep striving after it as if it will.
What You Want Can’t Make You Alright
But it’s not just that what you most want in this world won’t make you alright. It’s also that, on a fundamental level, what you most want in this world can’t make you alright.
The novelist David Foster Wallace gives a picture of this in one of his stories – in a scene where a young tennis prodigy confesses to a spiritual mentor that he deeply longs to become famous for playing tennis. “He wants [it] so bad it feels like it’s eating him alive. [He longs] to have his picture in shiny magazines,” he says.
It’s so bad that “sometimes he finds he can’t eat or sleep” because of how horribly he is overcome with envy for the adults who have already made it big. Longing for that sort of fame consumes him – it is what he most wants. And, he admits, he believes that once he has that – once his pictures are in magazines and people look at him with admiration, then he will be satisfied. Then he will be okay.
The mentor looks at the student. “You burn to have your photograph in a magazine. […] Why […] exactly […]?” he asks. “Why? I guess to give my life some sort of kind of meaning,” the student replies. “And how would this do [that] again?” “I don’t know. I do not know. It just does. Would. Why else would I burn like this?”
“You feel,” the mentor says, “[that] these men with their photographs in magazines care deeply about having their photos in magazines. [That they] derive immense meaning [from it].”
“I do.” the student answers. “They must. I would. Else why would I burn like this to feel as they feel.”
The mentor thinks for a moment. “Perhaps they did at first.” he says. “The first photograph, the first magazine, the gratified surge, the seeing themselves as others see them […] perhaps. Perhaps the first time: enjoyment. After that, […] trust me: they do not feel what you burn for. After the first surge, they care only that their photographs seem awkward or unflattering, or untrue. […] Something changes. After the first photograph has been in a magazine, the famous men do not enjoy their photographs in magazines so much as they fear that their photographs will cease to appear in magazines. They are trapped, just as you are.”
“Is this supposed to be good news?” the student asks. “This is awful news.”
“The truth will set you free.” the mentor replies, “But not until it is finished with you.”
“You are deluded.” the mentor continues, “But this is good news. You have been snared by the delusion that envy has a reciprocal. You assume that there is a flip side to your painful envy of [famous professionals]: namely [their] enjoyable feeling of being-envied-by-[people-like-you]. [But there is not.] […] You burn with hunger for food that does not exist.
“The burning doesn’t go away?” the student asks.
“What fire dies when you feed it?” the mentor replies. [David Foster Wallace, 388-389]
In other words, we can tend to think of those things we most want like food, which, once we get them, will satisfy us and end our hunger. But the things of this world were not designed to be food for our souls. They were not designed to satisfy our deepest longing. And so instead, when we do get them, they often act not like food for our stomachs but like fuel for a fire. They feed our longings rather than quenching them.
And that pattern is not limited to those who long for fame. It is just as true for those who most long for health, or for money, or for achievement, or a relationship, or something else in this world.
It is true for anyone who looks to the things of this world for true satisfaction – anyone who looks to created things to find significance, or approval, or comfort, or security in this life. We often burn for these feelings. And we long for things in this world that we think can give them to us. But they can’t. And even when we lay hold of what we have been striving for, we do not find ourselves at peace, but the fire of our longing only burns hotter. And we decide we need just a bit more. If we get just a bit more, then we’ll feel okay, we tell ourselves. Then the inner burning would stop. [Keller, Counterfeit Gods, 64-66]
But “what fire dies when you feed it?”
The thing that you most want, if it is anything of this world, not only will not make you alright – it cannot make you alright.
What Do You Most Want?
And with all that in mind, it’s worth asking what it is that we really want.
As I thought about this theme, it reminded me of an obscure movie I had heard about several years ago.
I wondered if the film would be relevant for our theme this morning, and so I did the only reasonable thing. I asked my wife if she would watch an almost-three-hour long Soviet-era film, in Russian, with subtitles with me. And she agreed.
Which is a good reminder that you should pray for my wife … who has to live with me.
The movie is called “Stalker”. It takes place in a post-apocalyptic world, where some unknown phenomenon has created an area of land called “the Zone.” And in the Zone, strange things happen. People often disappear. The landscape frequently rearranges itself. No one knew what to expect of it, so the authorities blocked it off, setting up fences and guards to keep people out.
But some people, called “stalkers” serve as illegal guides to help people get into the Zone.
You might ask: Why would anyone want to go there? Well, it is rumored that inside the Zone is a place called the Room: a location at the heart of the Zone where, if one was to walk into it, it will grant you your deepest desire: whatever it is that, deep down, you most want. It doesn’t come all at once, but once you go back to your regular life, outside the Zone, it will come to you. You don’t say anything in the Room – it doesn’t take orders. It just discerns what you most want in your heart, and it grants it.
The movie is the story of a guide – a stalker – bringing two men into the Zone illegally, to try to get them to the Room.
The film is long and slow moving. But as the men work to get into the Zone, and then as they try to navigate the dangers and mazes of the Zone itself, a question emerges: What do we really want?
At first, the question seems more abstract and light-hearted to the men. One of them wonders aloud how we can know what we really want. And might we really, deep down, want something that we don’t want to want. He gives an example – he says: “My consciousness wants the triumph of vegetarianism. My subconscious longs for a juicy steak. So what do I want?”
And as they get closer, the question becomes more pressing and more grim.
The guide shares a story about a man he knows who went into the Room. He went in, thinking that what he wanted most was for his brother, who had recently died, to come back to him. Instead, after going into the Room and then returning to his regular life, he became wildly rich. Which revealed that deep down, he wanted money more than he wanted his brother. Distressed, and disgusted with himself, the man then took his own life.
The story weighs heavy on the three men, as they slowly work their way closer to the Room.
After much work, they finally approach the threshold of the Room. And the Stalker says to the two men: “This is the most important moment … in your life. […] Your most cherished desire will come true here. Your sincerest wish, the desire that has made you suffer most.” He tells them to go in, and the Room will read their hearts, and it will know and grant what they most long for.
And the men pause. They think. They argue. They begin to question what they most want. They begin to fear learning what it is they most want. One of them blurts out: “What comes true here is that which reflects the essence of your nature. It is within you. It governs you. Yet you are ignorant of it.”
Is the Room a gift, or a curse? The men wrestle with the question as they stand at the threshold.
And what about you? If you were to stand at the threshold of such a Room, what would you do? Are you confident that you really know what it is that deep down, you most want? Are you sure that you want the right thing? Even if you knew what it was, are you sure it is what you most need – that receiving it would actually be a blessing, rather than a curse? If you don’t know what it is, could you bear to have it revealed, even to yourself?
If you stood on the threshold of such a Room … would you enter in?
What Do You Most Need?
Cynthia Heimel, in her 1990 article on celebrity, wrote: “I think when God wants to play a really rotten practical joke on you, he grants your deepest wish.”
It seems like that is the risk of the Room. It gives you not what you should want – not what you truly need – but it gives you what you actually want, deep down. And if we know ourselves, we should know that the result will always let us down. It will always disappoint. It would often devastate. We should know that having such wishes granted to us will not quench the fire of desire and discontentedness that burns in us – it will only fuel that burning within.
But Jesus here refuses to play that kind of “rotten practical joke” on the paralytic. He refuses to simply give him what he wants, and to let him believe the lie that that will make him okay. Instead, he first gives the man what he actually most needs. He first gives him the forgiveness of sins, and with it, peace and reconciliation with God. [Keller, 32]
We sometimes want Jesus to be like the Room for us. But the truth is that he is much better than that. He gives us not what we most want, but what we most need.
Now, one take away from this is that we should seek to grow so that we desire the right things more and more, and the wrong things less and less. That is true. But it’s not the focus of our text this morning.
The focus of our text is that if we come to Jesus with true faith, and submit ourselves to him, he is good enough to give us what is best for us, instead of what we most desire. He is kind enough to prioritize our needs as they truly are, and not as we see them. He is loving enough to give us what we most need even when we don’t want it nearly as much as we should. He is that good, and that loving.
And so, while we should strive to see our hearts renewed, even before they are, we can know that if we truly come to Jesus in faith and entrust ourselves to him, we need not fear our deepest desires. Because he will give us what is good. Even if our hearts desire a serpent, he will give us instead a fish. Even if our hearts ask for what would be to us a scorpion, he will instead give us an egg. We may not always recognize it in the moment. But he is good. And he gives us what we most need.
And central to what we most need is the forgiveness of our sins, and the restoration of our relationship with God.
We are, by nature, in our fallen state, at war with our Maker. We depend on him every moment for our existence, and yet, at the same time, we rebel against him every day as we ignore him and break his laws. What can be a bigger problem in our lives than that? Everything else is secondary.
And Jesus will attend to those things that are secondary – he will attend to the various forms of brokenness in our lives. We see that here, as just a few verses later, he does heal the paralytic. But he does it in a way that stresses that such things are always secondary.
If we receive those secondary gifts from Jesus, without the primary gift of a restored relationship with God, then those secondary gifts will quickly become idols – things we turn to instead of God for our deepest longings, things we rely on to try to make us “alright”, but which cannot bear the weight of our souls, and so ultimately fuel the burning of discontent within us, rather than quenching it.
Jesus has good gifts for his people. But they all must be secondary to the primary gift of the forgiveness of sins and the restoration of our relationship with God, our Maker.
Can you accept that truth in your own life?
Can you accept that Jesus knows what is best for you? Can you accept that you need forgiveness and peace with God far more than you need anything else? Can you trust Jesus to give you what you need, and withhold what would be bad for you, even if it’s contrary to what you ask him for? Can you trust that Jesus will, one day, at the resurrection, heal all that is broken in your life, but that right now he has reasons for giving some things and withholding others?
Tim Keller puts it like this. He writes:
“You see, at that moment Jesus had the power to heal the man’s body, just as he has the power to give you that career success, that relationship, that recognition you’ve been longing for. He actually has the power and authority to give each of us what we’ve been asking for, on the spot, no questions asked.
“But Jesus knows that’s not nearly deep enough. He knows that […] we don’t need someone who can just grant our wishes. We need someone who can go deeper than that. Someone who will […] lovingly and carefully […] pierce our self-centeredness and remove the sin that enslaves us and distorts even our beautiful longings. In short, we need to be forgiven. That’s the only way for our discontent to be healed. It will take more than a miracle worker or a divine genie – it will take a Savior.” [Keller, Jesus the King, 38]
The third thing we see in our text is that true faith is willing to trust Jesus to know what we most need.
Do you have that kind of faith?
Can you lay aside what you think you need most, and trust Jesus to know what you need better than you do?
Can you trust that he knows your heart better than you do?
Can you trust that he knows what will be a true blessing for you and what will actually be a snare to you?
And most importantly, can you trust that what you most need, more than anything else, is the peace with God that he offers you in the gospel?
He calls you, like the paralytic, to trust his wisdom over your own.
Faith Trusts the Identity & Authority of Jesus
Fourth, and finally, true faith trusts the identity and the authority of Jesus.
Jesus here confronts the crowd, and especially the scribes, with the claim that he is even more than they thought he was claiming to be.
In verses six through twelve, things turn to the topic of Jesus’s identity. [Edwards, 73]
It may have been known that Jesus was presenting himself as the Messiah. But in the Jewish thinking of the time, even the Messiah did not have the authority to forgive sins on his own authority. [Edwards, 78]
Jesus adds to the picture of his identity by calling himself “the Son of Man” in verse ten – a likely allusion to the authoritative and apocalyptic figure of Daniel chapter seven [7:13-14]. [Edwards, 79-81; Horne, 51-55]
But Jesus goes beyond that as well.
Jesus here forgives sins on behalf of God – as the scribes note in verse seven. Which raises profound questions about who Jesus is. Because you can only forgive sins that are committed against you. [Keller, Jesus the King, 36]
Which is why the scribes accuse him of blasphemy –because who, they reason, can forgive sins committed against God, except for God himself?
Now, the scribes did know that a human being could pronounce forgiveness from God. In Leviticus 5:10 we read of how the priest could make atonement for a sinful Israelite, and thus proclaim that his sins were forgiven. But there, similar to the declaration of pardon in our own liturgy, the role of the priest is simply declaring what God has promised – that through faith, repentance, and sacrifice, forgiveness is offered and applied to an individual. [Horne, 50; see also Edwards, 78]
But here in our text, there is no visible sacrifice. They are not in the temple. Jesus is not a Levitical priest. Something else is going on here. And the scribes recognize that.
In pronouncing forgiveness of sins that have been committed against God, apart from the temple, apart from the Levitical priesthood, Jesus is leaving them no conclusion except that he himself is God – God the Son, the second person of the Trinity.
And that fact makes sense of everything else we’ve said this morning. Jesus knows what we most need because he is God – he is all knowing. Jesus can give us peace with our Maker because he himself is our Maker. Jesus can be trusted above all other beings – including above ourselves – because he is the Supreme Being, the divine Maker of heaven and earth. True faith recognizes who Jesus is – the Son of God – and everything else flows from that.
And Jesus then proves his identity, by healing the paralytic in verses nine through twelve. Jesus has made a profound claim to have the authority of God himself to forgive sins. And then he gives them evidence of that divine authority by healing the man before their eyes. He performs a visible miracle to prove that he also had the power to perform the invisible miracle that was the forgiveness of the man’s sins.
And after seeing the visible miracle, he calls them to faith in his word, that he has in fact performed the invisible miracle of forgiveness as well.
And Jesus calls us to the same faith. He has given us so many proofs of his power and his love in our lives. He has given us good gifts. He has shown his loving providential purposes. He has made us, and placed us in his good world. But each of those visible works should reinforce our faith in the deeper invisible gift he offers us in the gospel: that by his death and resurrection he has granted us forgiveness of sins and peace with God.
True faith recognizes Jesus’s identity and his authority to grant such blessings in the gospel. And so, whether we feel forgiveness or not, whether other people forgive us or not, whether we struggle to forgive ourselves or not, we can know that if we come to Jesus in faith, we too can and must believe his word to us, as he looks down on us and says: “Son” … “daughter” … “your sins are forgiven.”
Jesus, this morning, offers you what you most need in this world.
Come to him by faith. Receive from him by faith. Trust his wisdom by faith. And believe in his power and forgiveness by faith.
For by such faith you will be saved.
This sermon draws on material from:
Bayer, Hans. Introduction and notes to Mark in The ESV Study Bible. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2008.
Edwards, James R. The Gospel According to Mark. The Pillar New Testament Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2002.
Heimel, Cynthia. “The Celebrity Decade: The Stuff of Fluff” The Village Voice. January 2, 1990. https://www.villagevoice.com/2020/02/06/1980-1989-the-celebrity-decade/
Horne, Mark. The Victory According to Mark: An Exposition of the Second Gospel. Moscow, ID: Canon Press, 2003.
Keller, Timothy. Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power, and the Only Hope that Matters. New York, NY: Dutton, 2009.
Keller, Timothy. Jesus the King. New York, NY: Penguin, 2011.
Tarkovsky, Andrei. Stalker. USSR, 1979. (Currently available on HBO Max (https://www.hbomax.com/feature/urn:hbo:feature:GYTql5wQFQG03SAEAAACp) or Amazon Prime (https://www.amazon.com/Stalker-English-Subtitled-Alisa-Freindlikh/dp/B073X5X2G1)
Wallace, David Foster. Infinite Jest. New York, NY: Back Bay Books, 1996. [An important disclaimer: While I have drawn from this work in this sermon, I would not recommend this book for most readers. It contains disturbing content that many would find troubling, and caution and wisdom must be exercised by Christians in knowing what would be profitable for them to read and what they should personally avoid.]
Wright, N.T. Mark for Everyone. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2004.
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