In a book called, “Will Daylight Come”, a story is told about “a little boy that was visiting his grandparents and was given his first slingshot. He practiced in the woods, but he could never hit his target.
As he came back to Grandma’s back yard, he spied her pet duck. On an impulse he took aim and let fly. The stone hit, and the duck fell dead.
The boy panicked. Desperately he hid the dead duck in the woodpile, only to look up and see his sister watching. Sally had seen it all, but she said nothing.
After lunch that day, Grandma said, “Sally, let’s wash the dishes.” But Sally said, “Johnny told me he wanted to help in the kitchen today. Didn’t you, Johnny?” And she whispered to him, “Remember the duck!
So Johnny did the dishes.
Later Grandpa asked if the children wanted to go fishing, Grandma said, “I’m sorry, but I need Sally to help make supper.” Sally smiled and said, “That’s all taken care of. Johnny wants to do it.” Again she whispered, “Remember the duck.”
Johnny stayed while Sally went fishing.
After several days of Johnny doing both his chores and Sally’s, finally he couldn’t stand it. He confessed to Grandma that he’d killed the duck.
“I know, Johnny,” she said, giving him a hug. “I was standing at the window and saw the whole thing. Because I love you, I forgave you. I wondered how long you would let Sally make a slave of you” (Richard Hoefler, Will Daylight Come’) Bible.org.
I suspect God looks at times in bewilderment at His chosen ones. “For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son that who so ever believes in Him should have eternal life” (Jn. 3:16). Yet even as we begin to grasp the wonderful sacrifice that procured this magnificent promise we still at times act as if Jesus Christ isn’t enough! We act as though His power over sin and death can’t alleviate our guilt and remorse and those issues of life that get us down. We think there’s got to be more! And we allow Satan to push us around as though we have a secret that must be kept hidden at all costs.
Today’s passage clearly announced more about two thousand years ago that God’s love had broken the chains of sin and guilt to stamp upon our hearts one word that changes everything: Forgiven.
Let’s look at this remarkable part of HIStory and see some amazing faith in action.
If you have a Bible or app with you, turn with me to Mark 2:1-12.
1 A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. 2 So many gathered that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them. 3 Some men came, bringing to him a paralytic, carried by four of them. 4 Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus and, after digging through it, lowered the mat the paralyzed man was lying on. 5 When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” 6 Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, 7 “Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” 8 Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, “Why are you thinking these things? 9 Which is easier: to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat 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 tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” 12 He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!” (Mark 2:1-12 (NIV).
They had never seen anything like this before! Truer words had never been spoken! Jesus would later say to them, “The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables so that, “‘they may be ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding; otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!'” Mark 4:11-12 (NIV)
In this portion of HIStory Mark lays out for us the first time that Jesus announces His purpose directly to both saint and sinner alike. And this without the usual caveat “don’t tell this to anyone”. This amazing event took place in Capernaum the Prophet’s backyard, in the land of Galilee. The very place where Jesus would later announce that He received no honor serving there. And eventually in tears he warned the people that they were headed for God’s wrath because they had not embraced the many miracles done in their midst and turned to God in repentance. Capernaum! “… you people of Capernaum, will you be honored in heaven? No, you will go down to the place of the dead. For if the miracles I did for you had been done in wicked Sodom, it would still be here today” (Matthew 11:23-24:NLT).
As we parted in chapter one you’ll remember that Jesus had to avoid public places because the news that a healer had come had spread and people were so excited to see how he did it. Jesus knew that would happen and tried to persuade the leprous man to not tell anyone but that was like telling a child to leave the chocolates alone that were left open on the living room table. Somehow those chocolates seem to persuade the child not to listen to parental authority even if it was for their own good.
So Jesus had to take some time and tour the region, healing the sick and casting out demons in other places before returning home to Capernaum. And everywhere He went the crowds came out of nowhere.
As Mark begins this chapter saying, “a few days later”, we need to understand that few days is measured not after the healing of the leprous man but rather after what came after those lonely places.
And it would seem from Luke’s account that all that ministry caught the attention of the Scribes and religious leaders as the news spread so far and wide.
Sure got their attention! They too were there to watch the magic show and try to figure out how he did that. Jesus on the other hand was there to preach the word and make disciples. Do you know what a disciple is? The word simply means students. Jesus was teaching His students in the “word” and by example.
He preached the Word! What “word” you may be wondering since the Bible was not yet complete? Here the word used means preaching the Good News. But Jesus wasn’t just having a conversation with the boys. He was preaching about the mission God had sent Him to fulfill. He was in fact writing the Bible on their hearts and before the eyes of those who would write the Gospels. Including the part where those four guys caring a fifth man on a mat interrupted the show.
Mark states clearly that Jesus popularity had grown significantly by this point. In fact, so many people wanted to see the miracle worker that the house he had been staying in couldn’t hold them all. It was standing room only!
Say, what’s wrong with this picture? Is it Biblically correct?
The verse clearly says, there was no room even outside the house, people were standing in the street peering through the doors and windows waiting to see Jesus. We encountered the same thing when I was preaching over in Kenya. I would look out the windows and see eyes looking in at us.
The congestion that day caused the men to become creative. And the men who wanted a miracle in their friend’s life had to find another way to get to Jesus with him.
Imagine for a moment the scene Mark has painted here. These men must climb the stairs that lead to the roof carrying their paraplegic friend with them. Often stairs were on the outside rather than inside in those days. But it could have been a roughhewn ladder that they crawled up to get to the roof. The point is it took effort to get to the roof. Once there, they gaze through the skylight and see Jesus preaching below. Scratch that! There were no skylights back then! But there soon would be!
The roof that was thick often with with tar and gravel over top of tiles. Now imagine for a moment that you are downstairs as the roof suddenly starts opening up. Dust and debris falling all around you! It had to be a show stopper right? But these men were determined to see Jesus and get help for their friend! So they dug and then they took away enough tiles to lower this man and his mat through the hole. What a sight to behold!
Jesus looking up, getting dust in his eyes as he sees that man slowly being lowered down, smiles just a hint. He looks upon the four friends as they sheepishly grin hoping but not yet knowing if their plan would work or backfire royally.
It created the perfect teaching opportunity for Jesus. Everyone’s attention is fixed upon this man and his friends. They look back at the master and then at the paralytic, then back to the master. What’s he going to do? What will he say? Will he yell at the man? Maybe scold his friends for making such a disturbance, and interrupting his preaching?
Jesus instead speaks softly and tenderly, “5 …”Son, your sins are forgiven.” Mark 2:5 (NIV).
Our first question, naturally would be, what sins was he forgiving? Was it a sin to crash the party? Well I suspect the owner of the house might feel like it was. After all someone is going to have to clean up that mess and fix his roof. But that’s not at all how the Scribes took what Jesus said.
Inside they maybe thought, “ah ha…we got him this time! He’s a blasphemer”. And they had the full weight of the law on their side! It clearly said no one, not even the Messiah could forgive sins. No one but God could do that. So if this Jesus was just a man, then they were right in their thinking. Blasphemer!
But tell me, if you were in their place, wouldn’t you be surprised if Jesus said exactly what was on your mind?
That’s what he did! Mark says, “8 Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, “Why are you thinking these things? 9 Which is easier: to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’?” Mark 2:8-9 (NIV)
Ok so they could chalk that up to a lucky guess on his part. Maybe He was reading their body language. But the passage is very clear once again. It wasn’t body language or lucky guesses! Jesus actually knew what they were thinking. He wasn’t guessing! He knew it.
So don’t you deceive yourself into thinking you can have personal thoughts that no one will ever know! Jesus knows what is in the heart of Mankind! After all He created us.
This question, “which is easier” (9), was used to draw what they were thinking and bring it to a proper conclusion. While it was true that only God can forgive sins, their stinking thinking concluded that Jesus was faking being God. Jesus in essence said, you’ve got it half right boys! Only God can do that miracle on the inside and to prove it I will do the other seemingly impossible feat, this man will not only get up and start to walk in front of your very eyes but he’s going to walk right out of here on his own two feet!
That way they would know “10 …that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins….”. And with that statement Jesus took all the guess work out of this lesson for them. He announced that He had the authority to do what only God can do! Which makes Him Who? ? ? Either a deranged lunatic, a very clever charlatan or God come in the flesh.
Then, “He said to the paralytic, 11 “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” It was an order not a request. The LORD had spoken. It is strongly worded in the Greek. And this is emphasized by the immediate response from the paralytic.
There was no denying it. Someone who can make a paralytic walk on command was no lunatic, and even the best magic of the day couldn’t take some random paralytic person lowered from the ceiling and have him walk out in front of everyone. There were no smoke and mirrors there. So that leaves only one option, the man truly was Whom he claimed to be. GOD!
The Scribes and the nay-sayers jaws must of hit the floor. The believers including His disciples were totally amazed. But had they actually understood what Jesus had said and done that day?
What do you think? Had they understood?
We actually know they didn’t understand yet. Not even Jesus own disciples understood the claim Jesus made that day. It wouldn’t be long before His disciples would agree with Peter, “You are the Christ the Son of the Living God” (Matt. 16:16). But for that moment in time they were still know and follow Jesus Christ. Becoming His disciples by becoming students of the Master.
And so are you and I. When Jesus said go make disciples of all nations…he told us to teach them everything that Jesus had commanded of us so that they could in turn make disciples who will make disciples. And one of the first things that Jesus wants His disciples to know is in a word: Forgiven. Every disciple gets to hear those tender words from our Master: “My child your sins are forgiven!”(5)
For Jesus has “all authority in heaven and on earth” (cf Matthew 28:19) ALL AUTHORITY not just some! ALL Authority to forgive sins. The Bible says, “He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9 (NIV). This was and is and will always be the Gospel message. My son / daughter your sins are forgiven!
Jesus is truly enough!
1. How do you feel about people who make outrageous claims?
2. Do you know someone who was paralyzed? What were some issues they faced?
Read Mark 2:1-12 in several versions preferably.
1. Where was Jesus when this event took place? (Mark 2:1; Mat. 9:1; Luke 5:17; Mark 7:24 at Home?)
2. What does it mean to preach in verse 2? (Mark 1:4; 6:34; Mat 5:1-2; Luke 8:1,11; Acts 8:25; Acts 16:6; * Rom. 10:8-11;* 2 Tim. 4:2-3)
3. What do verses 3-4 tell us about the individuals mentioned and their character?
4. How and why did Jesus heal the paralytic man? (Mark 2:5,10-12; Psalm 32:1-5; 103:2-3; Isaiah 38:17; Acts 11:23; Col 3:12-14; Mark 5:34)
5. What does blasphemy mean? (Mark 2:6-8; Psalm 74:18; Lev. 24:11-16; Rom. 2:23-24; * Mat. 12:31)
6. How did Jesus know what they were thinking? (Mark 2:6-8; 8:17; Psalm 33:13-15; 139:11-12; 147:5; Prov. 15:3; Isaiah 40:14; 46:10; Jer. 17:10; Heb. 4:13; 1 John 3:20)
7. Which is it easier for us to do—forgive others or care for them when they’re sick?
7. Which is it easier: forgiving or caring for the person when they’re sick?
8. What connection is there between faith and God’s working ? (Mat. 9:22 ; Luke 8:48 ; John 5:14 ; Acts 14:9 ; Eph. 2:8-9 ; 1 Cor. 11:30 ; James 2:18-22; 5:15 )
9. What is one paralysis in your life that you want Jesus to heal you from?
10. How can you follow the example of the paralytic’s friends and go out of your way to help a believer who is in need?