Summary: Jesus has authority to forgive sins
PROPOSITION: Jesus has authority to forgive sins.
OBJECTIVE: To realize the authority of Jesus.
The first story in Mark 2 is a style of writing pretty much unique to Mark. My NT and Greek professor in seminary would call this a “Big Mark.” Essentially, Mark has taken an incident in the life and ministry of Jesus and inserted into it another incident, probably from a separate encounter. The insertion, although totally separate, gives spiritual meaning to the original story. The readers of this letter are expected to realize the insertion and understand its spiritual significance.
The healing of the paralytic is v 1-5a; the top layer of “bread.” The “meat” of the message is v 5b – 10a. Finally, the conclusion of the healing story, or bottom layer of “bread” begins with the last phrase of v 10, “He said to the paralytic. . .” and continues through v 12.
Listen as I read the story of the healing of the paralytic, without the “meat.”
The healing miracle is very interesting. It is the faith of the four friends that is the reason for the healing. The paralytic says nothing. When ordered, he rises from the pallet on which he was lowered and went out in the sight of all.
Sounds pretty good! No problem; no issue. However, with the insertion of the “meat,” we hear Jesus say something pretty powerful and certainly controversial. What started out as a miracle story of the healing of a paralytic suddenly developed into a major controversy regarding Jesus’ authority to forgive sins.
The center of the controversy is v 10 where Jesus proclaims of himself the authority on earth to forgive sins. Everyone knows that only God has the authority to forgive sins.
There is supported evidence that a lot of people, men and women, had come forth over the years, forgiving people of their sins. Mark 1:4 tells of John the Baptist preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. Even today, preachers dispense forgiveness as if it were something bought and sold at Wal-Mart. What Peter is telling us through the pen of Mark is that Jesus, the Son of Man, has the authority here on earth to forgive sins.
Two weeks ago, February 9th, I preached from Mark 1:29-39. In that message, I told of the whole city that had come to Jesus for purely physical gain. I said that the people of the city and too many people in churches today do not recognize the authority of Jesus.
Here is another prime example of religious people not recognizing, not realizing, not understanding, not accepting the authority of Jesus – and in this case, the authority of Jesus to forgive sins.
The issue at hand is blasphemy. In v 7, the religious leaders first proclaim Jesus is blaspheming. The religious leaders were devoted to the study and application of the law of Moses to all life. It is about the same with preachers and a lot of church members today. Here are people who have devoted a great deal of time and study to bring a message from God concerning the application of the law of God to all life.
Now for sure, some religious leaders know more about what is the law of God and how it applies than do others. And for sure, some religious leaders are very quick to apply that knowledge they possess upon the lives of others. This is most often expressed in the application of tithing, consumption of alcohol, women’s role in the church – and there are others. Unfortunately, too often this knowledge of the religious leaders has little to do with the teachings of Jesus. They are applied to others as if they were from the very mouth of God, and to those who disagree, they blaspheme.
Now it is too bad for some religious leaders, and specifically the religious leaders in the gospel reading this morning, they cannot see beyond their own personal interpretations. Through out the entirety of the scripture, the focus is basically and primarily concerned with God’s plan of redemption and reconciliation of the human creature, the promise of one having authority to forgive sins. I do not know how many separate and individual references there are in the OT concerning the promise of the Messiah, the one who will reconcile, the one who will redeem - the one with the authority to forgive sins.
Now, here in wide screen, Technicolor, hi-fi, all around surround sound is the promised one. Here for all to see and experience is the Messiah. Before the religious leaders, those who have devoted their lives in the study and application of the Word of God, is the Messiah, the one who has the authority to forgive sins – and they don’t recognize him. The religious leaders are so blinded by their own authority that they are completely ignorant of the authority of Jesus to forgive sins.