Brad Libolt speaking on Mark 2:1-12. He spoke of how Jesus addressed the paralytic’s true need, the care his friends had for him, and how his friends did whatever it took to get him in front of Jesus. In turn, we must ask what it would take for us to get our friends in front of Jesus.
- How many of you know about the Justice League movie that is coming out soon? The Justice League is a group of superheroes. A while back, they came out with the first trailer for the movie. All the trailers have been epic so far, but in the first one it shows Bruce Wayne going around to the different heroes on the team and asking them to join. He goes to Aquaman, Wonder Woman, and then he talks to the Flash. And in the scene that he talks to the Flash, he is sitting in a chair in the Flash’s home, and when the Flash walks in Bruce Wayne introduces himself. And the Flash doesn’t know who he is. Bruce Wayne introduces himself like the Flash should know that he is Batman, but he doesn’t. So, to prove that he is Batman, he throws a batarang at the Flash. The Flash does his speedster stuff and watches the batarang fly by him in slow motion, then he looks at Bruce, still in slow motion, then you see it click in his eyes. He grabs the batarang and recognizes that Bruce Wayne is Batman.
- Bruce Wayne thought Barry Allen (the Flash) would know he was Batman just by introducing him, but he had no idea. So, to prove who he was, Bruce did something. He showed Barry something visible so that he could see who Bruce really was, so that he could see that he was Batman.
- That’s kind of what Jesus is doing in this story here. He makes a claim about who he is, but the scribes don’t get it. They question him. To prove that he truly is who he is claiming to be, he does something they can see. He shows them something to get them to realize who he is.
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.
- Remember where we left off. The leper went around telling everyone, and people wanted to see Jesus so badly that he couldn’t even enter a town. So this is the state of the area when we enter this story, and we see that very clearly. Jesus goes to his home, and so many people gathered to see him that there wasn’t any room. So Jesus is in his home preaching the word of God, preaching the gospel, and the place is so packed inside and outside the house that no one can even get to the door. There are so many people at this house just to get a glimpse of Jesus, to hear what he has to say.
- This particular group of men came, so that their paralytic friend could be healed. They carry their friend to this house, see the massive crowd, climb the house and get on the roof. When they are on the roof they start taking it apart, making a hole so they can lower their friend down in front of Jesus.
- Imagine this scene. Four men carrying their friend who is paralyzed. The crowd is so massive that they can’t even get to the door, so they climb up onto the house, still carrying their friend, and start taking this roof apart. Then once the roof is open they lower their friend down into the house in front of Jesus.
- The next verse tells us that Jesus saw the men’s faith, which they definitely had, but also think about how much they cared for their friend. How much would you have to care about someone to carry them somewhere where you thought they could be healed?
- I want you to raise your hand if you have a friend who is a non-believer, who doesn’t know Jesus. Ok, now what would it take for you to get them in front of Jesus? If they are really your friend, if you truly care about them, then you know the most important thing they need is to see Jesus. So what are you going to do to get them in front of Jesus?
- This last weekend I went elk hunting with Lionel and Ian. Ian is from Georgia, and they don’t have elk down there, so for a long time it has been a dream of his to hunt elk. He doesn’t know areas to hunt in Oregon, or exactly how to hunt elk, so I said I would take him elk hunting. I knew Ian really wanted to shoot an elk, and while I couldn’t make any guarantees, I decided I would do whatever it took to get him in front of an elk. I did some research and scouting, planned a trip all out, and we set out. Our plans all went wrong, and the area was all snowed out, but I was determined to get him in front of an elk. We drove around in the dark to find a place to camp because I was so determined to help Ian find an elk. And we did! We ended up being very successful, and Ian shot his first elk. I cared about Ian, and wanted him to get an elk. I believed he could make the shot, so I did whatever I could to get him in front of one.
- In a similar way, these guys believed that Jesus had the power to heal their friend. They believed that Jesus could make this guy walk, so they went to extreme measures to just put him in front of Jesus. Do you believe that Jesus has the power to heal your non-believing friend? You should, because he has healed you. Not necessarily of physical pain, but of spiritual. Jesus has saved you from your sin, forgiven you of your trespasses, healed you of your pain, and if you believe that, then he can do the same for your friend.
- This could be inviting them to church, Thursday night, small group, an event we do, or even inviting them into your home. Maybe it’s share the gospel with them, telling them about Jesus, giving them some music to listen to or a Bible to read. It can look a lot of different ways, but ask yourself what is it going to take, to get your friend in front of Jesus? If you truly care about them, you’ll take extreme measures.
5 And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”
- Imagine being the paralytic. Wanting so badly to be able to walk, and he thinks it is about to happen. But Jesus looks at the man and forgives his sins. Instead of being healed Jesus says “Son, your sins are forgiven.” Instead of healing this man’s physical ailment, which is what he is expecting, Jesus sees his true need, his need for forgiveness.
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?
- Now this is when the story gets really interesting. Some scribes were there, some teachers of the law, religious leaders, and they start wondering in their hearts what in the world does Jesus thinks he is doing. They say “Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” For Jews, only God had the authority to forgive sins. So according to their culture and religion, unless Jesus is God then he is blaspheming. He is making false claims about God, which is a really big deal.
- They wonder who this guy thinks he is, because only God has the authority to forgive sins, and this Jesus guys just told this man his sins are forgiven. There is a huge problem.
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.”
- Notice what happens here. The scribes were thinking these thoughts in their heart, but Jesus perceives what they are thinking, in other words he reads their minds, and his response is incredible.
- He asks, “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’?” It would be way easier to know if someone was physically healed because that is something you can see. If Jesus healed this guy then everyone would know because he would be able to walk right in front of their eyes. But forgiving sins is something below the surface. It is something that you can’t see. In a way, Jesus is calling out their lack of faith, saying it is much easier to truly heal someone because you can see the result, but you can’t see the result of forgiving sins.
- But look what happens next. Jesus says, “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 the paralytic stands up and goes. Jesus proves his authority over sins by displaying his authority over physical sickness.
This is an epic moment in Jesus’ ministry. A paralytic is in front of him and a huge crowd, expecting to be healed. But instead Jesus forgives his sins, and the scribes and religious leaders start grumbling because that’s something only God can do. Jesus reads their minds and to prove that the Son of Man has the authority to forgive sins he also tells the paralytic to get up and walk. This is an awesome story, but what does it mean for us?
- First, Jesus can read your mind. These scribes started questioning the authority of Jesus in their hearts, and Jesus was able to perceive what they were thinking. This is a truth about God that we all know, that he knows everything, but stop for a second and think about this. Jesus perceives what is in your heart and mind. He knows what you think about him, about yourself, about others, he knows it all. For some that might be scary, because you know the thoughts in your heart and mind aren’t always glorifying to God, but consider this. Jesus knows everything you think and feel, but he still chooses to love you. Knowing all the messed up thoughts and feelings in your heart and mind Jesus still chose to come down and die on a cross so that you could be forgiven. And that’s the next thing we need to see in this passage, the main point here, is that Jesus has the authority to forgive sins.
- This whole story shows that Jesus is making a divine claim. He knows only God has the authority to forgive sins, but he forgives sins and heals this man. Jesus is saying to the scribes and to the crowds that he is God. He is saying something radical. He is saying he is God, the only one who is able to forgive sins.
- We have to see what is happening here. God, the creator of the universe and giver of life, is on earth in human form, in Jesus. God chose to come down to the earth he created, the earth that is plagued with the sin of the people he created, he chose to come down amidst all our evil and our sin, and he chose to be killed by it. Jesus lived on this sinful earth, bringing the kingdom of God, living a perfect life, but going to the cross, where he would be brutally killed in our place. That is how Jesus can forgive sins. Not just because he is God, but because sins must be paid for, they must be atoned for, and Jesus paid the price, his blood atoned for them so that he can look at his people who he loves so dearly and say, “Son, daughter, your sins are forgiven.”
- And if you are anything like me you have a lot of sins that need forgiven. I disobey God daily, I am constantly trying to be the god of my own life, thinking I know what’s best for me, thinking and feeling things that aren’t glorifying to God. As much as I try to do good I fail often, I sin often. But I can stand here before you today and boldly proclaim the message of forgiveness because I truly believe that I have been forgiven. I truly believe that Jesus Christ was God, that he died on a cross in our place, atoning for our sins with his precious blood, that he rose from the grave conquering sin and death, and ascended to heaven where he is at the right hand of the Father, interceding on our behalf. I can stand here this morning and tell you guys about the forgiveness of Jesus Christ because I truly believe I have been forgiven by Jesus Christ. It doesn’t matter how many times I sin, what I think, what I feel, how many times I mess up and make a mistake, I am forgiven. And if you have faith, if you believe in Jesus Christ and what he did, you are forgiven too. It is a beautiful thing.
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!”
- The paralytic is healed, he gets up and walks away, and everyone is amazed. They have never seen anything like this, so they glorify God. When you see God do something incredible, like forgive someone of their sins, are you amazed? Do you glorify God? How do you respond when God does something incredible? My prayer is that you would be attentive to all that God is doing, and glorify him when you notice his work.