Jesus Scandalously Forgives Sin
Mark chapter one concludes with Jesus miraculously healing a leper. After Jesus healed the leper, the leper went around Galilee and proclaimed the mighty power of this Jesus. Jesus became so famous and well known that there was nowhere he could escape the crowds. So Jesus went into the wilderness to get away from them.
Lets pick up in chapter two.
“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 2:1-12
In verses 1-12, we see that time has elapsed, and Jesus returned to Capernaum. Apparently, he had not been home long before the news reached the crowds that he was there. The people find Jesus, and there is a large number gathered in and around the house. I love the ending of verse 2, “and he was preaching to them.” Undoubtedly the crowd was waiting for Jesus to heal many, for that is what the end of chapter one tells us. When they find Jesus and fill the house, he responds by preaching to them. Let us not forget that above all, Jesus was a preacher. When our culture pictures Jesus, they focus on all of the things he did to heal the sick, give sight to the blind, and much more. However, Mark keeps very subtly pointing out that Jesus was first a preacher. Apparently, he was such a prolific preacher that there was not even standing room in this house. I get the feeling that there were just people piled in and on top of each other to see Jesus. So many people, in fact that these men and women who wanted to get a paralytic man to him thought it hopeless to go through the door. We know very little about this group. We are not told if they are men or women. We do not know how many there were. But we know two things. One, they loved their paralytic friend, and two, they believed with all of their being that if they could only get this man to the feet of Jesus, he could heal him.
Does that not amaze you? That is shameless love; that is such a strong love that it does not care at what cost they were going to get this man to the feet of Jesus. Do we care that much about our friends and family that we are willing to act shamefully to get them to the feet of our Lord? When is the last time you have shared the gospel with someone regardless of what they think of you? Have you ever loved someone so shamelessly that it makes you a fool to others to pursue that person with the gospel? We also know that this man was hopeless, and the people believed that Jesus could heal him. Listen to me, church, you might have a friend that you don’t share the gospel with because you think they are utterly hopeless and there is no way to be saved. It certainly looked hopeless for the paralytic. So desperate that he could not even stand or make himself go to Jesus if he wanted to. Do you believe that there are people who are just so far gone that they are unsavable? Let us learn from this group of friends.
So this group being desperate, bring this man to the roof, and while Jesus is teaching underneath them, they break down the roof. They tear a hole in the ceiling, and with all desperation, they lay this paralytic at the feet of Jesus. I imagine that the room went dead silent, everyone waiting in anticipation for Jesus to heal this man. But Jesus does something really unexpected. Verse five “And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”
What!? Everyone in the room is expecting Jesus to heal this man. Everyone wants to see Jesus perform a miracle. And Jesus looks at this man and says, “sons your sins are forgiven.” I imagine the whole room gasped at that statement.
Let me ask you a diagnostic question. If the story ended there, how would you feel? Would you feel as if this man had been cheated? or would you be in amazement that his sins had been forgiven? If you are disappointed that he was not immediately healed, you have a very serious theological problem. It all boils down to this: what is the greater issue: man’s physical state or man’s spiritual state? What good would it have been to heal this man physically but let him leave damned to hell for all eternity? Or what good is it to heal him in the physical moment only to see him again in the judgment and condemn him?
The crowd wanted a miracle, and they got one. It is so much more significant to have the forgiveness of sins. This was a truly scandalous statement. Look at what the scribes, in their own hearts, questioned thinking….”why does this man speak like that! He is blaspeming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?”
Redemption Church, I want you to see that they are right. These scribes were correct. Only God can forgive sins. That’s the point. Mark does this a lot in his gospel, and it is very clever; he takes the enemies of Jesus and shows that they make true claims about Him. Look back in chapter one, last week the unclean spirit called Jesus the “Holy One of God,” and he was right. Here we have the scribes asking the question, who can forgive sins but God? It is like Mark is telling us that even the enemies of Christ profess his worth.
Jesus knowing the thoughts of the scribes, said to them, “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!
Jesus not only forgives this man of his sins, but he physically heals him. Jesus proves the invisible by the visible. Jesus proves that he had forgiven this man’s sins by the visible act of restoring this man’s health. Jesus the King proves to his enemies that he can and will forgive sins and use his authority to heal the sick. This was truly scandalous. This paralytic, through faith in Jesus, received the forgiveness of sins and a restored body. This promise still holds out to everyone who professes faith in Jesus the Christ. Those who profess faith will receive the forgiveness of sins and eternal life as well as a glorified and resurrected body. If you are a Christian, then you will receive a glorified body one day; that is our hope. We are all like the paralytic in this story. Sometimes we don’t know our greater need until Jesus meets it.