Summary: Forgiveness is a cool drink of water to a dry and parched tongue. It is the medicine which heals us at the deepest level of our being. We all need forgiveness.
Authority To Forgive
Man’s deepest need is not for fairness, but for forgiveness. Forgiveness is the power to liberate from past sin and restore to an individual a sense of self-worth. Forgiveness is the power to deal with justifiable guilt, not by ignoring it, but by eliminating it. Forgiveness is a cool drink of water to a dry and parched tongue. It is the medicine which heals us at the deepest level of our being. We all need forgiveness.
While we have the power to forgive others, we need to be forgiven ourselves. And we need to be forgiven by one who has the authority to forgive. Good friends who mean well may say, "Don’t worry about it," but our sin is not against them. The Bible teaches that sin is against God. When David had sinned by taking Bathsheba and having her husband killed, he cried out, in Psalm 51, "Against Thee, Thee only, I have sinned." (v. 4a) Though we may sin against people, sin ultimately is against God. And while we need the forgiveness of people, we ultimately need the forgiveness of God. Only God has the authority to forgive sins.
In Jesus we see the authority of God. So far in Mark, we have seen Christ’s authority over temptation, authority over the lives of men, authority over nature, authority to establish truth, authority over demons, authority over sickness. Now, we will see a new authority revealed – it is Christ’s authority to forgive sin.
Our passage today, Mark 2:1-12, is a rich passage. Many sermons could be preached from these verses. The gems here do not even have to be mined. They lay right on top of the ground. We shall see the faith of the paralytic’s friends, the compassion of Christ, the dealing with the root cause of all misery, and a call to obedience to the word of Christ. It is all here to instruct us in how to live.
"And when He had come back to Capernaum several days afterward, it was heard that He was at home. And many were gathered together, so that there was no longer room, even near the door; and He was speaking the word to them." (vv. 1-2)
The scene is Capernaum. The house in which He taught is thought by many to be Peter’s. No sooner had Jesus arrived than the news spread to those around. Luke tells us that there were Pharisees and Doctors of the Law present from Galilee, Judea and Jerusalem. This was probably a delegation sent to check this new preacher out and report back to the Sanhedrin. But a great crowd had gathered to hear what this man had to say, and perhaps to see some mighty work.
There were several others who had also heard that Jesus was in town teaching. These men had a friend who was a paralytic, and they cared for him. They knew that if they could just get him to see Jesus, that Jesus would heal him. They had faith in Jesus. So, they each picked up a corner of their friend’s bed which was probably a small cot or mat and they set out to see Jesus.
The Action of The Friends
"And they came, bringing to Him a paralytic, carried by four men. And being unable to get to Him on account 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." (vv. 3-4)
We see several things in the action of the friends. Firstly, we notice that they had a faith born out of need. The need was the healing of their friend. It was out of this motive that they came to Jesus. And this must have been one of the things which made their coming even more special to Him. They believed Jesus could heal their friend. The opportunity was present for this man, and they were his friends. So they could not just sit around and let this opportunity pass him by. Now that is true friendship. They had faith, and that faith demanded action. It was a faith born out of need.
But next, notice that their faith produced fruit in them. It was the fruit of works. This is the mark of true faith. If we have real faith, our faith will show in the things we do. James says, "I’ll show you my faith by my works."
This narrative reads as if told by an eye-witness. And if we accept the theory that Mark was writing Peter’s recollection of the life of Christ; and if this was, in fact, Peter’s house, we can understand why it was told in so much detail; much more than Matthew or Luke.