Jesus Forgives and Heals
Most of us who have lived more than twenty or thirty years can look back on life and see the results of some of our decisions. Some decisions were good and brought blessings, others were not so good and brought us trouble and pain. This is our experience as human beings.
Like you, I’ve made decisions in the past that have brought me great joy and blessings. I’ve made others that I’d like to go back to and change. But I can’t, it’s impossible. That’s not the way life works. I’ve also met people who continually beat themselves up over poor decisions they made in the past.
I’ve seen people whose childhood was turbulent, even traumatic, put that behind them and become well-adjusted adults. I’ve seen others who’ve experienced far less turbulence get stuck in the trap of constantly looking back and reliving the past. Some of them become bitter, reactionary, and emotionally unstable, always blaming others for their troubles. It’s really sad to watch, especially when it can be different.
Jesus has the ability to redeem and restore what has been broken, the power to forgive and to heal. That’s the focus of our study from Mark 2:1 to 12. Jesus uses the healing of a paralyzed man to show us how our decisions impact our lives and our relationship with Him.
So, follow along now as I read the Scripture. As I read, see if you can pick out the decisions that were made and how they impacted those who made them. Here is Mark 2:1 to 12.
Before we get into our study, let me give a bit of context. At the end of the previous chapter, Jesus was teaching in the synagogues throughout the cities of Galilee and casting out demons. In the course of His ministry, He was approached by a leper who asked Him for cleansing. Jesus healed the man, then sent him off to the priest for his cleansing and warned him not to tell anyone what happened to him. The former leper disregarded Jesus’ command and the resulting attention prevented Jesus from openly entering the towns of the area.
In this account of the healing of a paralytic, the text shows us how our DECISIONS impact our life and our relationship with Him. The three decisions we observe in this text are an act of faith, a question of unbelief, and a demonstration of authority.
The First DECISION we see (that impacts our life) is,
An Act of Faith
The opening of our text has Jesus returning home to Capernaum from the other parts of Galilee. When the word got out that Jesus was back home in Capernaum, a crowd gathered. The crowd grew so large that there was no room in the house, no room even in the doorway. The Greek uses a double-negative to intensify the meaning. This house was packed full, and the street outside was full too! “There was not no more room for anyone.”
Now, keep that scene in your mind and add what happens next. Several men are bringing a paralyzed man to see Jesus. Four of them are carrying him on some kind of bed, maybe just a sleeping mat held by the four corners. They evidently believed that Jesus could heal their friend. Their carrying him to Jesus was an act of faith.
Picture them turning the last corner into the street where the house was. Maybe an audible groan escaped one of them and their shoulders sagged a bit in disappointment as they saw the crowd. Coming closer, they realized there was no way they were going to be able to penetrate that dense throng of people. If you had been them, what would you have done?
To their credit, they didn’t give up. I don’t know how far they had already carried this man, but they weren’t going to let a crowd stymie their plans. Knowing the town, they most likely took a back alley or side street to the rear of the house. Houses of that era often had an outside stairway to the roof where people often enjoyed the cool of the morning or evening.
So, up they went. And they must’ve been familiar with the layout of the place too. Because they knew just where to uncover the roof in order to let their friend down in front of Jesus.
But to uncover the roof wasn’t a matter of just removing some thatch. These roofs were often made of small logs laid across the outside walls of the house. Smaller branches and grass or reeds were the next layer. On top of that was a layer of clay tramped down over everything and hardened by the heat of the sun. It must have taken considerable effort to make an opening large enough to let their friend down without dumping him off his pallet!
Now, imagine Jesus teaching in the house jammed full of people, with the religious leaders close beside him and the crowd overflowing into the street. All of a sudden little bits of dust and debris start falling from the ceiling above His head. And then bigger pieces of dirt and debris begin to fall, and daylight appears above Him as the men enlarge an opening in the roof.
Now, the hole is quite large, and several heads are silhouetted against the sky. Suddenly, the light disappears for a few moments as the hole is filled with a bed. As the crowd watches in stunned silence the bed slowly descends to the point where they see a man lying on it. His friends continue to lower him until the bed rests on the ground, right in front of Jesus.
The decision these men made was an act of faith and it had incredible results. Jesus knew the effort it took to place this man before Him. And He responded to their faith by saying, “My son, your sins are forgiven.” I believe, that all five of the men involved in this were stunned by Jesus’ statement. They had brought their paralyzed friend to Jesus for physical healing, but Jesus pronounced him forgiven of his sins! However, at this point, he was still lying on his bed.
Let’s just leave further discussion of Jesus’ statement until later in our study. What I want us to be sure to catch is the decision to act in faith and how it impacted their lives.
There are circumstances we face in life that can cause discouragement. We know that from experience. We had expectations about how God would meet our needs, and lo and behold it turned out very differently. Do we push through and persist like these men did or do we give up?
Sometimes people discourage us too. They say, “Things will never change, just forget it.” But we don’t have to listen to them. It’s much better to listen to the promises God has given to us, like Hebrews 11:6. “…without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” God rewards those who come to him in faith as these men did. What circumstances are you facing right now that calls for an act of faith on your part? Will you believe or will you give up?
But there were spoilers in the crowd. And that leads us to the next decision and its impact.
The Next DECISION we see is,
A Question of Unbelief
There were “scribes” in this crowd. Who were these men and why were they there? Their primary duty was to know and preserve the law and lead the people. They were responsible for teaching and interpreting the law. They also handled all kinds of legal matters.
Sadly, by Jesus’ time, they had added a multitude of extra traditions to their teachings. Their man-made rules hindered the people from truly knowing God—sometimes going against the commands of Scripture. They were threatened by Jesus’ popularity and their loss of prestige. Remember, the people said that Jesus taught with authority, not like the scribes. So, they were there to find fault with Jesus’s teaching. His popularity had aroused their jealousy.
When Jesus pronounced forgiveness of sins for the paralytic, immediately they began to judge Jesus. “Why does this man speak like that? It’s blasphemy! No one can forgive sins but God.” They didn’t give voice to their thoughts, but their faces must’ve indicated what they were thinking. Jesus instantly recognized their thoughts in His own spirit.
These men were rejecting Jesus as the Son of God. They knew the law and the prophets. They knew that when Messiah came, He would exercise these kinds of powers. But because He came in a way that was different than they expected and because He didn’t try to fit into their system, they rejected Him.
Today, many reject Jesus because He doesn’t fit their preconceived ideas. Or maybe He doesn’t fit their plans or their lifestyle. Everyone is free to make their own decision about Jesus but think about the impact it will have on your life, present and future. If you reject Him, like these scribes did, it will not end well for you.
So far, we have looked at two differing decisions, an act of faith and a question of unbelief. Those lead us to the final decision…
The Final DECISION we see is,
A Demonstration of Authority
Immediately, Jesus fully perceived in His spirit what they were thinking. So, He asked, “Why do you reason this way in your hearts? Which is easier to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, pick up your mat, and walk?”
Do you see what Jesus was doing here? If someone’s sins are forgiven, you can’t immediately see the evidence of that. It is something that happens to you on the inside first. But for this man to get up, pick up his mat, and walk away was undeniable evidence that a miracle had taken place. No ordinary man could make either one of them happen. This was a demonstration of Jesus’ authority.
In fact, He spells it out for them. You question what I am doing, “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, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.” In essence, Jesus was saying to the scribes, I have power to heal physically, and I have the power to forgive sins. The fact that I can heal this man physically demonstrates my power to forgive his sins.
At Jesus’ command, the paralytic got up, picked up his mat, and went out in full view of everyone in the crowd. I can imagine the crowd was stunned, and perhaps momentarily silent, parting to let him make his way to the door and out into the street. I also imagine that the silence didn’t last long because the text says they were all amazed and began to praise God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!”
Jesus made the decision to demonstrate His authority and He is still the same today as He was back then. He is ready and willing to forgive and heal. He has the authority to do both. But remember, the healing of this man’s body, though it was a great miracle, was only temporary. Eventually, his body would wear out and he would die. In contrast, the forgiveness of his sins was of eternal impact. His choices to exercise faith and obedience to Jesus’ command changed his life, and I assume, the lives of his friends, forever.
Conversely, the decision of unbelief by the scribes impacted them forever too. Unless they changed their minds and embraced Jesus as Messiah, and some of them did, their near future and eternal future would be negatively impacted.
Have you allowed Jesus to demonstrate His authority in your life? Are you acting in faith or unbelief? I can’t guarantee that Jesus will heal your physical disability, but I can guarantee you that if you come to Him in faith, He will forgive your sins and make you completely whole.