MAIN TEXT: MARK 2:1-12
And when he 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, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, “Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” 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? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the paralytic— “I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.” 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!”
Mark is a gospel account. A gospel is a good news true story of how a victory was won. The gospel of Jesus Christ is the greatest story of good news ever told. For years, politicians and world leaders have given promises of how happy days will be here again or how the world will be shaped differently because of their ideals and plans. Human history has shown that the oppressed are still oppressed and the poor are still downtrodden. Hatred and prejudice are still at home in our communities. In the religious world, the good news about Jesus Christ is often sold short as good advice: be kind, smile a lot, love all creatures, think positively, and feel good about yourself. The true gospel of Jesus Christ is something far more radical and explosive. It has to do with God’s redemptive action in Jesus, which reveals God’s love for humans and judgment on human sin and satanic evil.
This gospel account does not focus much on what Jesus said, but rather on what Jesus did and who He was. Mark 8:27-30 is a key point of the Gospel. “Who do you say that I am?” Both during Jesus’ life on earth and today, some people will either not believe or will try to mold Jesus into their own images by telling Him who He is and what He is doing. People want a glamorous, gimmicky, short-term solution to their problems turning Jesus into a self-help teacher. The Gospel of Mark is the antidote to this distortion as it presents the foundation story about Jesus, who suffers and dies on a cross.
Our text today shows us that Jesus is God incarnate and is able to forgive the sins of rebellious humanity. We all face the questions, “Can I be forgiven of my sins?” and “Who can forgive my sins?”. Sin is our greatest problem and enemy because it separates us from God. It renders us spiritually dead and if left unforgiven results in eternal separation from God. Sin shatters relationships, causes us to think foolishly, leads us to make bad choices, and moves us to act in evil and destructive ways.
Can I be forgiven? The Bible has a wonderful answer: Yes! Who can forgive me? God can – through the person of Jesus – the Son of God. He is the One who “takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). He can deliver us from the penalty of sin and the power of sin.
We should bring the hurting to Jesus
They need to hear His teaching (verses 1-2). Jesus is back home from His preaching and ministry tour throughout Galilee and most likely staying at Peter’s house again. A crowd gathered at the house to hear Jesus speak – so many that the doorway was jammed. These folks wanted another miracle, but instead Jesus gives them preaching – calling them to repent and believe the gospel in light of the kingdom of God. We need to hear His preaching, too.
They need to experience His forgiveness (verses 3-5). Jesus receives a drop-in visitor and was more than prepared to receive him. Four friends brought a paralyzed friend and were determined to get him to Jesus. They were not deterred by the crowds, the shame of damaging someone else’s roof, nor by interrupting Jesus’ teaching. They dug through the mud, clay, and thatch style roof and lowered the man on his bed until he lay before Jesus. Jesus looked past the terrible paralysis of the man’s body and saw the even deeper need – relief from guilt and forgiveness. Jesus extended to a paralyzed sinner God’s full and complete pardon of sin. He needed healing – but even more – like all of us – he needed to experience the forgiveness of sins made possible by Jesus.
We should see Jesus for who He truly is
The religious leaders react predictably – accusing Jesus of blasphemy. This charge will be the one that eventually will be used to crucify him. Blasphemy was punishable by death by stoning. To their credit, they recognized that the forgiveness of sins was no passing comment and could only be done by God – they just didn’t see Jesus as God. This is why the question was raised, “Who can forgive sins but God alone?”.
Jesus is God (verses 5-9). Only God can forgive sins. Jesus is asserting that He is God. He will prove it in a few moments by healing the man and later will prove it for all time by His resurrection from the dead.
In Jewish thinking, even the Messiah could not forgive sins. The Jews knew that if Jesus could forgive sins then He was saying that He was God. Jesus knew what they were thinking. He confronts them in verses 8-9. Jesus knew that it was one thing to say it and something else to prove it.
Jesus is the Son of Man (verses 10-11). Jesus refers to Himself as “the Son of Man” in verse 10. Jesus used this self-designation often – it is found 81 times in the gospels. This term is used in different ways in the Old Testament – Psalm 144 meaning “human being”; Daniel 7 referring to the One who will come to establish God’s kingdom. Jesus uses the title to refer to Himself as both – God incarnate; a human being who identifies with sinful humanity and serves and suffers on our behalf.
Jesus avoided the term “Christ” and “Messiah” because He was a much different kind of Messiah from what the Jews anticipated. Referring to Himself as “the Son of Man” gave a much bigger picture of the scope of His mission without all of the political overtones.
We should glorify Jesus for what He does
The friends of the man did not go away disappointed. The same is true today - those who bring the hurting to faith in Jesus will not be disappointed! The man in the story experienced the fulfillment of God’s promise – the kingdom of God has drawn near! Isaiah 35:6 becomes a reality, “then shall the lame man leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute sing for joy”.
Jesus forgives our sins (verse 5). The man and his friends believed that Jesus could meet their deepest need but they were wrong on what that need really was. We often think that we know what our deepest need is – it is often connected to our circumstances. Jesus used this moment to make a point concerning what our greatest need is in this life and the life to come.
Jesus heals our diseases (verses 10-12). Jesus gave a physical healing, which could be seen and not denied. Some may not like it, but they could not deny it. This validated Jesus forgiving sins.
Jesus is the God who forgives sins!
APPLY TO LIFE
This week, as you reflect on the message, utilize this section to help you apply what has been taught to your life. Think of friends, co-workers, neighbors, family etc., that you could meet with to have a time of mutual sharing as you open God’s Word together.
This simple acronym (BLESS, B - Bless, L - Listen, E - Eat, S - Speak, S - Sabbath) should help you to frame your life according to the great commandment “love God” (Matthew 22:37) and the expression of that commandment in loving your neighbor (John 13:34). Each time you meet, start by discussing the rhythms of your life according to B.L.E.S.S.
Intentionally bless: Christ-followers, non-believers and those different than you.
Listen to what God is saying to you, through His Word and others.
Share a meal with a Christ-follower and also a non-believer.
Talk to God through prayer and to others about Jesus through witness.
Be intentional about taking time to both rest and recreate.
DISCUSS THE MESSAGE
Read: Mark 2:1-12
How was Jesus’ teaching more profitable than His healing ministry? Is the gospel still more valuable than health and wealth?
When you see someone who is crippled, starving, deformed, or poor, do you also think the person really needs salvation?
What does Jesus’ title “Son of Man” say about His purpose in His first and second coming?