Mark 2:1-12 1 And when he 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!”
If there was any doubt that the crowds were following Jesus for the wrong reasons this passage makes it abundantly clear. Last week we saw how the crowds had increased in size to the point that Jesus could no longer preach in the towns. A leper who had been healed did not obey the command of Jesus and spread the news of his healing everywhere. By the time this initial preaching tour came to an end in Galilee (in northern Israel), Jesus was becoming more restricted in how and where He could share the Good News because of the excitement of the crowds.
Jesus’ public ministry was in complete contrast to John the Baptist before Him. John the Baptist preached in the wilderness- in the most remote places. John the Baptist performed no miracles and it took great effort for those to be able to hear him preach. You had to go seek him out and find him. He led people to repentance and would baptize them in water symbolizing their purification from sin as they also came to believe in faith in the coming Christ- the Saviour that would come from God. When Jesus of Nazareth was revealed to John the Baptist as the Christ, from that point forward John the Baptist pointed all of his followers to go and follow Jesus instead. Jesus on the other hand was as accessible as He could be. He went to every town to share the Good News. He performed all kinds of miracles and continually made it known in different ways that He is the Christ as the Son of God. It was easy to find Jesus. He made the Good News available and accessible to all. He was absolutely approachable as the Gospel was for all people. The way of salvation appeared to be made hard by John the Baptist while on the surface it appeared easy through Jesus. But it was exactly the same message of salvation. It would take the infinite power of God to save a single soul. The crowds did not understand the reasons why Jesus’ actions were so different from John the Baptist and yet how they were in perfect harmony in the message of salvation that they both preached. In the same way the crowds did not understand the Word of God that had been revealed as recorded in the Old Testament that pointed to Jesus as the Christ.
As Jesus returned home to Simon Peter’s house in Capernaum the crowds continued to press in around him to the point that people were willing to take apart a roof to get access to Jesus! A man who was paralyzed was lowered down into the presence of Jesus. A dramatic scene was about to unfold of which no one had expected. Instead of healing the man, Jesus says to him, “Your sins are forgiven.” The paralyzed man had obviously shown signs of genuine repentance before God and faith in the Christ to whom he had been laid before. This proclamation of forgiveness is not what the people had expected. They expected Jesus to heal the man. But not this time, at least not yet. Jesus would forgive sins! Jesus was getting the reputation of a great miracle worker as well as a great preacher but now He claimed to be able to forgive sins!
Many people tend to trivialize sins in our day. Our evil actions and our rebellion against the God who formed us is not seen as a great evil. Many people think that they can wipe away their own sins by doing something good. But there is no way that any one of us can truly have a single sin washed away apart from the work of Jesus Christ. And the scribes, who knew the Scriptures well, were right in saying, “Who can forgive sins but God alone?” They knew that Jesus’ words were a claim of equality with God Himself. This was a greater sign than all the acts of healing that Jesus had performed thus far and yet nothing physical had occurred. The paralyzed man was still paralyzed. This is what the healed leper did not understand as we discussed last week from Mark 1:40-45. He had been healed physically but his sins had not been forgiven. Here was a paralyzed man forgiven by the Christ and yet his physical ailments remained. It would have been infinitely better for him to live the rest of his life as a paralyzed man with his sins forgiven than a healed man with his sins remaining. Do we comprehend the need for our souls to be healed? Do we genuinely desire a relationship with God through Jesus Christ or are we just looking for a Christ who will ease our suffering?
To authenticate His own words, Jesus heals the man. He says in Mark 2:10-11 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.”
He showed everyone present that He is the Christ, the Son of God. The act of healing proved the authority of the Word that Jesus spoke. And we know that His Words were confirmed and completed in Jesus’ death and resurrection. It was on the cross that this paralyzed man’s sins were paid for.
Are you beginning to see more and more how different this Kingdom of God is than our present world? In the midst of this pandemic are you consumed with what is going on in the world around you or are you more and more focused on the presence of God and the Kingdom of God recognizing the King whose authority is above all? Do you know if your sins are forgiven? Are you amazed and do you glorify God that this is true of you? How can it be that any of us could be forgiven by so great a Saviour? Praise be to God!
Pastor Murray Hack