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Mark Lesson 2: 2.1-12

Mark 2:1-12 - FORGIVES/HEALS

BACKGROUND:  Last week, in Mark 1:9-20, we rapidly covered four major events in Jesus' life:  His Baptism, His temptation, His announcement of the coming near of the kingdom and call to repentance and belief, and His call of the first disciples.  The major truth we derived from the lesson is that we follow Jesus because He is worthy.  The lesson text clearly showed that Jesus is the Son of God who came to bring us the good news of eternal salvation through the power of His Holy Spirit.  Jesus is worthy because of who He is and why He came.  The good news Jesus brings comes with two very basic requirements:  (1) to repent and (2) to believe, which expresses the central truth that repenting of our sin and believing in Jesus is the only right response to the gospel.

           This week, in Mark 2:1-12, we will study the first in a series what Bible scholars describe as "controversy stories."  The overriding issue in these stories is Jesus authority versus the authority of the religious leaders who consider themselves as the final authority on virtually every type of religious issue.  Mark reports these stories in sequential order:  (1) Today's text on the healing of the paralytic (2:1-12); (2) The call of a the tax collector and eating with tax collectors and sinners (2:13-17); (3) The question about fasting (2:18-22); (4) Jesus' defense of the disciples for harvesting on the Sabbath harvest (2:23-28); and (5) The healing of the man with a withered hand (3:1-6).  Scholars agree that Mark purposely took these stories out of their proper sequence and re-arranged them in a chiastic pattern for emphasis.  Today's story on the healing of the paralytic is the story of Jesus in  miniature:  Teaching, forgiveness, and healing, which is followed by opposition and vindication. 

Read Mark 2:1-2 - THERE WAS NO MORE ROOM      

1 When He had come back to Capernaum several days afterward, it was heard that He was at home. 2 And many were gathered together, so that there was no longer room, not even near the door; and He was speaking the word to them.

v. 1:  When He had come back to Capernaum several days afterward, it was heard that He was at home" - In Hebrew, that name "Capernaum," translates to village of Nahum, although the OT minor prophet by that name is not known to have ever lived there.  It was a town of about 1,500 people (big in those days) located on the north shore of the Sea of Galilee (see map), and its primary economic enterprise was fishing.  It had become one of the hubs along the major caravan route between Damascus, Syria and Egypt.  The town is best known as the home base and center of Jesus' early ministry.  While the exact location "at home" isn't clear, it's likely that Jesus normally stayed in a house owned by the family of Peter and Andrew.     

v. 2a:  "And many were gathered together, so that there was no longer room, not even near the door;" - Even in this early stage of His ministry, Jesus already drawing large numbers of people to hear Him teach.  The house, which was probably small, was completely packed and the overflow was blocking the door.    

v. 2b:  "and He was speaking the word to them" - Speaking "the word" (which included the OT Torah and the Prophets, was at the core of Jesus' ministry.  He began his public ministry by teaching the word with authority in the Capernaum synagogue, where he cleansed a man from demon-possession (Mk. 1:21-28).  His signs and action would change as His ministry progressed but the central core of His message-preaching the word-remained the same.

Mark 2:3-5 - SON, YOUR SINS ARE FORGIVEN

3 And they *came, bringing to Him a paralytic, carried by four men. 4 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. 5 And Jesus seeing their faith *said to the paralytic, "Son, your sins are forgiven."

v. 3:  "And they *came, bringing to Him a paralytic, carried by four men" - Scholars suggest this man had probably been paralyzed by a stroke.  Including the paralytic, the group consisted of at least five people but possibly included more. 

v. 4a:  "Being unable to get to Him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above Him;" - These men had apparently heard about Jesus and His miraculous powers and were bound and determined to get their severely crippled friend in front of Him.  The houses in those days typically had flat roofs which were covered by mats made from mixture of mud and thatch that was laid over the roof beams.  During the hottest days, the families often climbed up on the roof to sleep.  Deciding to do whatever it took to gain entry to the house, these friends appropriated a ladder, climbed up on the roof, and began chopping away a section of the matting that would be large enough to lower a man through it.  The people in the room below would not only have heard the noise being made, but would have been pelted by bits and pieces of roof debris falling into the room.

v. 4b:  "and when they had dug an opening, they let down the pallet on which the paralytic was lying" - The pallet the crippled man was laying on was just a very basic straw mat, nothing like the medical litters used today where the patients are securely strapped-in.  To make things more precarious, the cripple's well-meaning friends probably had no previous experience doing this.  But they did it anyway-they overcame the obstacles and managed to get their friend into the house.  I think these

men deserve a round of applause, don't you? 

v. 5a:  "And Jesus seeing their faith" - The "faith" that Jesus saw wasn't based upon intellectual reasoning or emotional feelings, but as God-in-the-flesh, His ability to see the spiritual condition of their hearts.  Their faith was based on the conviction and belief that Jesus had the power to heal, and notice it was plural, which included both the paralytic and his friends.  Moreover, their demonstration of faith was out in the open for everybody in and around the house to see.    

 v. 5b:  "*said to the paralytic, "Son, your sins are forgiven" - At this point, everyone probably thought Jesus would heal the man, but he did something totally different-shocking really-that they didn't expect.  The underlying truth of what Jesus does in this verse shows us how we can help save our friends, neighbors, and family members:  "Paralysis" can be physical, spiritual, or both.  Think a minute-how many people do you know whose lives have been utterly "paralyzed" by sin?  Like the paralyzed man here on the pallet, they desperately need someone to pick them up and carry them to Jesus for forgiveness.  

Read Mark 2:6-7 - SCRIBES-HE IS BLASPHEMING?    

6 But some of the scribes were sitting there and reasoning in their hearts, 7 "Why does this man speak that way? He is blaspheming; who can forgive sins but God alone?"

v. 6:  "But some of the scribes were sitting there and reasoning in their hearts" - Here's where the controversy begins.  The "scribes" were the authorized and ordained interpreters of the oral and written Law of Moses.  The phrase, "reasoning in their hearts," could be paraphrased to say that "they were thinking to themselves."  We've all done that-heard someone say something ridiculous and thought "that guy must be nuts."  These scribes understood the claim Jesus was making.  Luke's account of this event (Luke 5:17-26) reports that scribes and Pharisees knew in advance that Jesus would be teaching at this house and went there to check Him out.  What's ironic about the situation is that Jesus had just given them-in all truth-the answer to their investigation.      

v. 7:  "'Why does this man speak that way? He is blaspheming; who can forgive sins but God alone?'" - First off, these scribes are entirely correct in their assertion that only God can forgive sin.

When we sin against other humans, they van forgive us of the effects of the sin on them but only God has the power to forgive-that is, erase-the sin itself.  What they accuse Jesus of, "blaspheming," was a crime in those days that carried the penalty of death by stoning.  However, the scribes error, based on their sinful pride and arrogance -was their refusal to recognize Jesus for who He actually is:  God the Son who does, in fact, have the power to forgive sin. 

Read Mark 2:8-9 - WHICH IS EASIER   

8 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? 9 Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, 'Your sins are forgiven'; or to say, 'Get up, and pick up your pallet and walk'?

v. 8a:  "Immediately Jesus, aware in His spirit that they were reasoning that way within themselves" - Just as Jesus. Who is all-knowing, could see into the hearts of the paralytic and his friends (v. 5a), He was able to discern exactly what these scribes were thinking among themselves. 

v. 8b:  "said to them, 'Why are you reasoning about these things in your hearts?'" - The "heart" to which He was referring wasn't the physical organ in our bodies but to their innermost being-what was the seat of their, emotions, thoughts, desires, and fears-what makes us uniquely who we are.

v. 9:  "Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, 'Your sins are forgiven'; or to say, 'Get up, and pick up your pallet and walk'?" - Anyone can claim to forgive sins.  Anybody can say, "your sins are forgiven,: but from our human perspective, it's impossible to know with any certainty whether or not the forgiveness was truly genuine.  Therefore, because forgiveness is something unseen, it's a lot easier to do than go give a paralyzed person the instant ability to get up and walk.  Amen?

Read Mark 2:10-12 - THAT YOU MAY KNOW

10 But so 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, get up, pick up your pallet and go home." 12 And he got up and immediately picked up the pallet and went out in the sight of everyone, so that they were all amazed and were glorifying God, saying, "We have never seen anything like this."

v. 10:  "But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins"-He *said to the paralytic, " - The "Son of Man," Jesus' favorite self-designation, alludes to the term used in Dan. 7:13-14 that describes a man who combines both divine and human traits in one person.    

v. 11:  "I say to you, get up, pick up your pallet and go home" - In order to demonstrate to all of them that He possessed the power on earth to forgive sin-and thus prove that He is in fact God in the flesh-He commands the paralyzed man to "get up, pick up your pallet and go home."   

v. 12a:  "And he got up and immediately picked up the pallet and went out in the sight of everyone" - To all appearances, the healing was instantaneous:  On Jesus' command, the crippled man simply got up, picked up his pallet, and walked out.  It was a miracle, not a medical cure-something that only God can do.  What we need to understand about the paralytic is that the man had not only been freed from paralysis, but had been freed from the greater burden of sin.  While his paralysis had rendered him immobile in this life, his sin had chained him to death in the next.

v. 12b:  "so that they were all amazed and were glorifying God, saying, "We have never seen anything like this" - This is what we might call a mixed reaction, which really isn't unusual.  Everyone there was amazed and glorified God, but at the same time came away unsettled and felt they had seen some very strange happenings.  The truth is that they don't really know how to respond to Jesus.  And the scribes (along with their Pharisee brethren), as a group, are so spiritually blind that they will conclude that Jesus is not God to the point of arresting Him and crucifying Him.  As we move through this gospel, we will see people respond to Jesus in different ways:  some will believe, follow Him, and be saved; some will follow Him around for a while watching His healings and miracles, just short of being committed followers; and some will side with the authorities and cry "crucify Him" at His trial.  So, what is your response to Jesus?  Who do you say He is?  Is he God in the flesh or just some man with good morals and teachings?  And If you believe He is God, have you trusted in Him alone for the forgiveness of your sins and the salvation of your life-eternal life?  There is no other way your sins can be forgiven.  The most important thing to know about Jesus is that He is God. 

APPLICATION:

1.  Forgiveness of sin is the highest need of every person.   In today's story, paralysis represented sin's crippling power and the sinner's sheer helplessness to do anything to relieve his or her own suffering.  Forgiveness of sin isn't just one option among others; it is the only option absolutely essential and central to being released from the bondage of sin and ultimately, death. 

2.  Because forgiveness is such an imperative need, we should do everything possible to bring our friends to Jesus.  The friends of the paralytic In today's story were most likely motivated by their friend's physical needs, yet, their determined and extreme actions to bypass the crowd and get their friend to Jesus was a great illustration of doing everything possible to bring someone to Jesus.    

3.  Jesus alone has the authority to forgive sins.  Throughout this gospel account, Mark will  progressively establish Jesus' authority as God in the flesh, such as:  teaching (4:36), demons (5:1-11), disciples (5:4-11, 27-32), and diseases (4:38-40, 5:12-16, 17-26).  The miracle of healing the paralytic in today's lesson proves and confirms His claim of authority to forgive sin.       

PRAYER:  Lord, I thank You for this wonderful gospel message about the power to forgive.  I thank for the moving example of those men who did everything in their power to get their suffering friend in front of Jesus.  I imagine every one here this morning can think of friends, neighbors, or even family members whose lives are paralyzed by the power of sin.  They all need the forgiveness that only Jesus has the power to give.  So, Father, I ask you to burden each of us, like the men in this lesson, to do whatever is needed to get our lost friends, neighbors, and family members the help that only Jesus can give.  And I ask for these things in His Holy Name, AMEN.