THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS TRUMPS ALL OF GOD’S MANIFOLD BLESSINGS –
ONLY GOD CAN FORGIVE SINS
This new section in Mark extends to 3:6 and continues the theme of highlighting the authority of Jesus while introducing the new dynamic of the mounting opposition on the part of the religious leaders. There are 5 separate incidents that Mark records – not necessarily in chronological order – that combine these ideas of authority and conflict. Today we will look at the first account. Mark’s readers were certainly facing opposition and persecution as well because of their identification as followers of Christ. Their courage would be fortified by seeing their Master not shrinking back from these confrontations but facing His enemies head on.
The significance of this first incident in 2:1-12 focuses on the forgiveness of sins = the greatest need for all of mankind. That is why the gospel message itself must always take precedence over any form of social humanitarian aid. Yes, people are hungry and need to be fed. Yes, people are hurting and need to be fixed. But most importantly, people are separated from God because of their sin and headed for an eternity of suffering in hell. What everyone needs as the highest priority is forgiveness of sins.
People can deny the problem; people can try to ignore the problem and distract themselves with the pleasures and affairs of this world; people can try to introduce their own work-oriented, performance-based human solutions; but in the end, all of mankind will stand before the judgment of God to give account for their sins. Jesus Christ came for the purpose of providing forgiveness of sins. But we must come to God on His terms. Jesus Christ is the The Way, The Truth and The Life.
Matt. 1:21 angel of the Lord appearing to Joseph – “She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”
John 1:29 at the baptism by John the Baptist – “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”
Acts 13:38 “Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through Him forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you and it is granted to all those who believe.” When you believe the gospel, you receive forgiveness of sins.
Ephesians 1:7 “In Him,” that is in Christ, “we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us.” That is the message of Christianity, God will forgive your sins.
[Also found in Matt. 9:2-8 and Luke 5:17-26]
I. (:1-4) BROKEN, DESPERATE SINNERS ALWAYS NEED FORGIVENESS OF SINS –
DEMONSTRATION OF THE AUTHORITY OF JESUS CHRIST IN PROCLAIMING TRUTH
A. (:1-2a) Jesus Attracts a Curious Crowd
1. Hometown Buzz
“And when He had come back to Capernaum several days afterward, it was heard that He was at home.”
Must have been exhausted; looking for an opportunity to recharge His batteries; the buzz had died down – but did not take any time for it to re-ignite
Constant pressure of the crowds; add to that the new pressure from the mounting confrontation with the religious leaders – eager to protect their turf; upset at this new teaching and the popularity of this new miracle worker
Not necessarily attracting attention for the right reasons
Remember: a prophet does not have honor in his home town
Hiebert: The house may have been Peter’s, although some think that the reference is to the house where Jesus lived with His mother at Capernaum.
Base of His ministry operations on the shores of the Sea of Galilee
2. Standing Room Only
“And many were gathered together, so that there was no longer room, even near the door;”
Why did they come? Variety of reasons –certainly curiosity was prominent
B. (:2b) Jesus Proclaims the Authoritative Gospel = God’s Instrument of Salvation
“and He was speaking the word to them.”
Jesus came as a Light to those in Darkness
Good Shepherd gives His sheep exactly what they need for nourishment
Remember His charge at the end of John: If you love Me, feed my sheep with the Word of God
Luke 24:27 – finished his ministry on earth with the same priority of speaking the word – here to the disciples on the road to Emmaus – “Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.”
We already saw in Mark 1 – THE AMAZING, AUTHORITATIVE TEACHING MINISTRY OF JESUS CHRIST MUST TAKE PRIORITY OVER HEALING MIRACLES AND CASTING OUT OF DEMONS
C. (:3-4) Jesus Is the Only Answer for Desperate Sinners
“And they came, bringing to Him a paralytic, carried by four men. And being unable to get to Him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above Him; and when they had dug an opening, they let down the pallet on which the paralytic was lying.”
Access to Jesus is Key – we take it for granted
Look at the Activity of the faith of these men
Think of the desperate condition of the paralytic – how humbling to be so dependent; unable to go anywhere on your own
Hiebert: They ascended the flat roof of the house, either by means of an outside stairway or over the roof of an adjoining house. The flat housetop was generally used for various purposes. The house apparently was a modest one-story building.
Constable: quoting Wessel — The roof itself was usually made of wooden beams with thatch and compacted earth in order to shed the rain. Sometimes tiles were laid between the beams and the thatch and earth placed over them.
Quite a commotion and disruption
House was not handicapped accessible
II. (:5-11) SPIRITUAL HEALING ALWAYS TRUMPS PHYSICAL HEALING –
CONFIRMATION OF THE AUTHORITY OF JESUS CHRIST TO FORGIVE SINS
A. (:5) Spiritual Healing of Forgiveness of Sins
“And Jesus seeing their faith said to the paralytic, ‘My son, your sins are forgiven.’”
Blesses the paralytic way beyond his expectation or imagination;
He was only looking for physical healing – any connection here between his disability and his sin?
No forgiveness apart from faith and repentance
Keathley: Their faith is demonstrated by their creativity, boldness and persistence to open the roof. They allowed nothing to stop them. . . Sometimes God acts in a person’s life because of another’s faith. It might be the faith of a grandmother or a neighbor who prays that causes God to work in a person to bring them to Christ.
Hendriksen: Jesus never took sin lightly. He never told people, “Do you have a sense of guilt? Forget about it.” On the contrary, he regarded sin as inexcusable departure from God’s holy law (Mark 12:29, 30), as having a soul-choking effect (4:19; cf. John 8:34), and as being a matter of the heart and not only of the outward deed (Mark 7:6, 7, 15-23). But he also offered the only true solution.
B. (:6-7) Complaining Blasphemy of the Ignorant Scribes – Two Questions — Why/Who
“But there were some of the scribes sitting there and reasoning in their hearts, ‘Why does this man speak that way? He is blaspheming; who can forgive sins but God alone?’”
MacArthur: Pharisees [Luke’s account]: — it comes from a word meaning separated. These are the guardians of the populous form of apostate Judaism. They’re the fundamentalists, legalists, architects, and promoters of salvation by works, salvation by self-righteousness. This is the system that dominated the people. Yeah, they believed in the Old Testament, they believed in resurrection. They believed in angels. They believed in demons. They believed in predestination, human responsibility, written Law, oral Law. They believed in the coming of Messiah, the Messianic Kingdom. They were non-priests, they were lay people. They were devoted to keeping the people loyal to the Old Testament Law, and more importantly, the tradition that a complex set of regulations that they had developed that sort of became a wall around the Law with the idea that it was protected and what it did was obscure it and put something else in its place. Couldn’t see the Law anymore, all you could see was the regulations that were around the law. And, of course, it was a damning system because no one could be saved by keeping the Law. . .
Now, within the group of the Pharisees, there was also a group called scribes. If you drop down to verse 6, you can see some of the scribes are sitting there also. Now the scribes were the theologians that belonged to the Pharisees’ system. The Pharisees were the preachers and teachers of the system, the theologians sort of put it together. They were the scholastics, they were the scholars. Not all scribes were Pharisees. Not all Pharisees were scribes.
Liefeld: Mark has already mentioned the “teachers of the law” in 1:22, where their teaching is contrasted with Jesus’ authoritative teaching. Here they become directly involved with Jesus. Luke (5:17) says that they had come from “every village of Galilee and from Judea and Jerusalem.” Obviously they were there out of more than curiosity; they hoped to be able to ensnare him on some theological point. Jesus’ statement about forgiveness gave them their opportunity.
C. (:8-11) Confirming Miracle of Physical Healing
“And immediately Jesus, aware in His spirit that they were reasoning that way within themselves, said to them, ‘Why are you reasoning about these things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, Your sins are forgiven; or to say, Arise, and take up your pallet and walk ? But in order 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, take up your pallet and go home.’”
– Turns around the Why questions and asks them a Why question
– Answers the Who question in terms of His identity
The fact that Jesus knew what they were thinking should have given them pause about His identity; should have made them question the validity of their complaint.
Scott Grant: Mark also portrays Jesus as a Spirit-endowed prophet who is able to discern the reasoning of the scribes. Jesus won’t let them get away with their silent deliberations. He saw courageous faith in the four men but perceives only cowardly reasoning in the scribes. He both surfaces their reasoning and challenges it.
MacArthur: Blasphemers don’t know what people are thinking, only God does. First Samuel 16:7, “The Lord looks on the heart.” First Kings 8:39, “For you know the hearts of all men.” First Chronicles 28:9, “For the Lord searches all hearts and understands every intent of the thoughts.” Jeremiah 17:10, “I the Lord search the heart.” Ezekiel 11:5, “I know t he things that come into your mind, every one of them.”
Hiebert: It was not merely a question of His ability but His authority or moral right to do so. The forgiveness of sins is a moral issue; its exercise has to do with moral rights and liabilities. To claim that right falsely would indeed make Him guilty of blasphemy.
Constable: Jesus used the title “Son of Man” when He spoke of His sufferings and death (8:31; 9:9-13, 31; 10:33, 45; 14:21, 41). He also used it when speaking of His future return in glory (8:38; 13:26, 32; 14:62). Thus He used this title to blend the concepts of the Suffering Servant and the Messiah in His listeners’ minds. It also connected and identified Him with mankind as the Son of Man. Still, He was the Man with “authority on earth to forgive sins,” the Judge.
MacArthur: There’s a secrecy factor in His ministry and Mark points it out again and again and again that Jesus is trying to slow down the stampeded, the rush. He’s trying to be able to do what He needs to do to go to town to town to town to peach the message of salvation, the Kingdom. And the crowds, just as they get bigger and bigger, become obstruction. And they get Messianic expectations out of proportion out of reality and sometimes they even try to force Him to be a King and He has to escape. So I think Son of Man was a title that certainly had a Messianic indication in the seventh chapter of Daniel, but for the most part didn’t heighten the Messianic expectation and it did demonstrate His wonderful humility.
Van Parunak: his claim: “the son of man has power on earth to forgive sins.”
a) First use of “son of man” in the gospel, the Lord’s favorite term for himself. Drawn from Dan. 7:13,14 to emphasize his place as the one to whom the Father has given all authority on earth.
b) “On earth” is important. The old amillennial teaching tends to spiritualize the Lord’s impact, but it is real and concrete and tangible.
III. (:12) GENUINE MIRACLES ALWAYS GLORIFY GOD AND HIS ULTIMATE PURPOSES —
RECOGNITION OF THE AUTHORITY OF JESUS CHRIST IN OBEDIENCE AND PRAISE
A. Undeniable Miracle
“And he rose and immediately took up the pallet and went out in the sight of all;”
Response of obedience to the 3 very specific commands of Jesus.
This was not a miracle done in secret.
This met the criteria we discussed last week for the miracles of Jesus
– Instantaneous healing
– Complete healing
– Irreversible healing
B. Unexplainable Miracle
“so that they were all amazed and were glorifying God,”
“all” used in a general sense; not that every single person was glorifying God; the scribes and Pharisees were probably fuming inside that their critical, complaining spirit had been exposed in a season where there should have been joy and rejoicing
C. Unparalleled Miracle
“saying, ‘We have never seen anything like this.’”
Luke adds the note that great fear came upon all of them.
Acts 3 – parallel healing takes place at the hand of Peter and John (remember that Mark relied largely on the eyewitness testimony of Peter).
Peter had something to offer by way of the blessing of God that far surpassed silver or gold …
Not just the physical healing of the lame men … but the forgiveness of sins
3:19 – same gospel message of repentance and faith that Jesus preached – “so that your sins may be wiped away” – that is the issue that must be addressed
When it comes to counting our blessings … when it comes to petitioning God for His help in our circumstances of life … let’s put at the top of our praise list – Thanksgiving for the ultimate gift of all – The Forgiveness of Sins.