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Mark VI: Sins Forgiven - Mark 2:1-12

Mark 2:1-12 is one of the great mountain peaks of Mark’s gospel. Not only does Jesus cast out demons, not only does He heal diseases, but He forgives sins! The people respond with amazement, and they give glory to God: “We never saw anything like this!”

They’ve seen exorcisms, they’ve seen healings, they’ve watched prophets work wonders and heard the priests give assurance of God’s forgiveness, but they have never seen a man exercise the divine heavenly right to enact forgiveness here on earth. The scribes fully grasp what’s going on: “Who can forgive sins but God alone?” Exactly! This is Mark’s unbelievably grand and wonderful announcement: God is here on earth, granting forgiveness.

Mark gives us a vivid, almost cinematic scene, as Jesus has returned home to Capernaum, most likely to Simon and Andrew’s house. Word gets out, the house fills up and overflows, and Jesus starts preaching the word. Then, four men come to Jesus, bringing their paralyzed friend with them, and since they can’t get in through the door, they climb up the back staircase, and start unroofing the roof. Making a man-sized hole was a demolition job – Jesus’ sermon was interrupted by banging and pounding and clouds of dust and chunks of falling roof. At this point, all eyes are on the roof, and as the paralyzed man is lowered down, everyone is looking to see what Jesus will do, many of them expecting another healing.

But Jesus chooses this moment, surrounded by the crowd, in the context of preaching his kingdom message, to do something far more important than loosing the frozen body of a paralytic. Before he gives temporary relief to his body, He gives eternal rest to his soul. It is not at all unlikely that the paralyzed man and the crowd understood his paralysis as connected to his sin in some way. But we don’t need to know the specifics of this man’s sin in order to understand that there is some connection between sin and suffering, and that Jesus is showing that there is a connection between forgiveness and the end of suffering. When sin is no more, suffering will be no more, and Jesus previews the incoming kingdom by tying the two together.

But not everyone is ready for the kingdom to come. In vv. 6-7, we see the beginnings of the charge that will ultimately result in the crucifixion. “He’s blaspheming!” That is, He’s claiming be doing what only God could do. He is not just claiming to act on God’s behalf, like a priest or prophet; He’s claiming to be the forgiver of sins.

Now, if this wasn’t the impression that He meant to give, Jesus could have eased the scribes’ fears by clarifying that He was simply acting on God’s behalf like a prophet or priest. But instead, Jesus raises the stakes by claiming the divine authority of “the Son of Man.” In Daniel 7, the prophet Daniel sees one like a “son of man” come before the Ancient of Days, where he is given heavenly authority for ruling the earth. And so in order to demonstrate that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins, Jesus proposes a test: anyone can speak words of invisible, unverifiable forgiveness. But if Jesus is lying, then God will not validate the words of a blasphemer by giving him the power to visibly and demonstrably heal the paralytic.

And then somehow, in the tension of the moment in which his whole ministry is at stake, Jesus turns in compassion to the paralytic and tells him to rise, pick up his bed, and go home, and the paralyzed man stands up and walks out, to the amazement of the crowd. And in their amazement, the crowd worships God.

So what does this mean for you? The lesson is simple to understand, and yet unimaginably profound: come to Jesus in faith, and He will forgive your sins and heal you. Come to Jesus. Fight through the crowd, dig through the roof, overcome every obstacle, and come to Jesus, putting your faith in Him that He can save you and forgive you. This story is written in the Bible in order to convince you to do just that! Come to Jesus, and what is pictured here as the work of an instant will unfold for you and the world throughout the rest of history. When Jesus has done His work, the sin of the world will be taken away, and the world and everything in it will be healed and renewed.

Mark 2 also shows us what it means to be a true friend: a true friend brings people to Jesus. Can you imagine loving your friends enough to be willing to go around breaking and entering and committing property damage for them? What are you willing to do to bring your friends to Jesus? Even the boldest among us find these four men exhorting us to go further. You know the one man on earth who can forgive sins! Do whatever it takes to bring your friends to Jesus.

Posted on Thursday, March 01, 2018 by CJ Bowen