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Basic Bible: Healing and Forgiveness

Mark 2:1-12

Jesus entered into Capernaum after some days (v. 1). Capernaum is the city at which Jesus’ public ministry commenced. Jesus waited until John the Baptist was imprisoned before beginning preaching and healing. His teaching was unlike that of the scribes. Jesus spoke with authority. His healing the diseased and casting out of unclean spirits caused His fame to spread. Wherever Jesus went in Capernaum the crowds formed. Jesus left Capernaum to enter into nearby towns because He had come to preach in synagogues throughout Galilee (Mk. 1:38-39).

When it was known that Jesus had returned to the city and that He was at a particular dwelling, a large crowd gathered. His preaching was interrupted when the roof covering the area over the courtyard of the house was broken up and a man upon a bed was lowered down before Him (v. 3). All present saw the bedridden man who was sick of palsy and completely dependent upon others. Jesus looked upon the man and those with him and saw something that others did not see.

Jesus saw the faith of those who had brought the palsied man to Him. Jesus saw that which only God can see. The palsied man and his attendees possessed a faith that Jesus could do only that which God could do.

Many crippled and diseased individuals had been brought to Jesus in hope that He would heal them. This man, however, was brought to Jesus with the faith that God would make him whole. Hope is saddled with contingencies. With hope, there is possibility of failure or partial failure. Faith is certain. Seeing their faith Jesus said, “Son be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee.”

We see God the Father through the Son. God wants men to know He is a rewarder of them who believe Him. Our sins are not forgiven because we hope that the Son has paid the price of our iniquities. Our sins are forgiven because it has been revealed to us that God the Son has died in our place. Jesus’ words were spoken for the benefit of all who would ever believe.

Jesus did not say “thy sins be forgiven” for the ears of those who would never believe in Him. There were certain scribes present who were quick to condemn Jesus for blasphemy because He pronounced forgiveness that God alone can give. Jesus addressed their thoughts with the question: “Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts?” They knew the reason for their thinking. In their minds, Jesus was claiming an authority which belonged to God alone. Jesus was guilty of blasphemy because He announced only that which God can say. They did not believe that Jesus possessed the authority of God the Father. They lacked faith and were blind to the truth.

These scribes, like the party that came to Jesus bearing the palsied man, had heard of the many healings which Jesus had performed. Unlike these individuals who came in faith, these scribes were uncertain of the authority by which Jesus performed His healings; they did not recognize the source of His authority.

Jesus addressed their uncertainty and the uncertainties of all present in the scene that followed. Jesus asked, “For whether is easier, to say ‘Thy sins be forgiven thee;’ or to say, ‘Arise, and walk?’”

One can pour out declarations of forgiveness and declarations of healing from one’s mouth with equal ease. Such utterances, however, have no value unless forgiveness of sin and/or healing follow the declaration. A declaration is no better than the authority of the speaker. The scribes doubted Jesus’ authority to declare forgiveness of sin.

Jesus addressed the doubters saying: “But that ye may know that the Son of Man hath power on earth to forgive sins” (v. 10). The Lord then turned to the paralyzed man and instructed him to rise and take up his bed and go into his home. The man rose up and went into his house. Those present saw it, marvelled, and glorified God.

Consider that which they saw. They saw one possessing faith but unable to do for himself or anyone else. They saw a man with great need come to Jesus. They saw Jesus fulfill the man’s needs. They saw Jesus exercise the power of God the Father.

What does the Spirit lead believers to see? The words and actions of the Son are manifestations of the will of the Father. That which is in the scripture before us has been placed there such that we might know God and be useful vessels of His will. We see the Son fulfill the needs of one who came to Him in faith. The man had both physical need and spiritual need. The Son, knowing the man’s needs, filled his spiritual need prior to his physical need. The Son erased the man’s sins. The Son made the man pure in the sight of God the Father.

After addressing the man’s spiritual need, we see the Son empower the man to rise up and to “go thy way into thine house.” Upon rising, the man instantly became a living testimony of God’s power. The first place to which the man was to bear witness of what the Son had done was in his own household.

The Lord’s instruction to the formerly paralytic man is consistent with that which He instructed His disciples in Acts 1:8. Once empowered by the Holy Spirit, the disciples were to be witnesses first in Jerusalem and Judea, and then to Samaria and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

Believers of today, like the palsied man and the disciples following Pentecost, are to be witnesses of the power and authority of the Son. We are to let the Spirit in us speak of His wondrous love and grace.

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