In Mark 2:1-12, Jesus forgives and heals a paralytic man. In Mark’s gospel, this miracle marks a transition point. It is the LAST of the miracles in the section that focused on the authority of Jesus. But this miracle is also the FIRST of five events that show the growing opposition of the Jewish leadership. Let’s consider this memorable miracle.
THE MAN’S CONDITION (2:1-4)
- Having been preaching in the outlying regions of Galilee (1:38-39, 45), Jesus returns to Capernaum – secretly, it seems.
- But it doesn’t take long before word spreads that He is in someone’s house. The crowds fill the house and spill into the area around outside. Late-comers could not even get to the door.
- Four men come carrying a paralytic, no doubt hoping that Jesus would heal him. But they cannot get into the house through the door.
- They go up onto the roof (most houses had an outside staircase to the roof) and begin tearing a hole in it large enough that they can lower the man on his cot down to where Jesus is.
THE SAVIOR’S PRONOUNCEMENT (2:5)
- Verse 5 is a great text on the nature of genuine faith. Jesus “saw” their faith. When Jesus saw their faith, He declared the sins of the paralytic forgiven.
- There are at least two other occasions during His earthly ministry that Jesus instantly forgave the sins of another: the woman who washed and anointed His feet (Luke 7:44-48) and the thief on the cross (Luke 23:39-43).
- As God in the flesh, He could do that. He still forgives sins today, because of His death and resurrection (Matt. 26:28; Rom. 4:25), in harmony with saving faith (Acts 2:38; Rom. 5:1).
- Mark does not record the reaction of the paralytic or his friends. But if their expectations were for physical healing, this declaration may have confused them (e.g., going to the doctor and hearing the same statement).
THE SCRIBES’ REASONING (2:6-7)
- What Jesus said to the paralytic did not sit well with these custodians of the Law of Moses. They began “reasoning” silently. The word means to think thoroughly and completely. They were really chewing on this.
- Their unspoken conclusion was that Jesus was guilty of blasphemy because He dared to assume for Himself a prerogative reserved for God only – that of forgiving sins.
- Blasphemy was punishable by death (Lev. 24:16). What they had not yet realized, but what Jesus was about to prove, was that He was NOT guilty of blasphemy.
THE SAVIOR’S RESPONSE (2:8-11)
- Jesus knew what they were thinking and addressed Himself to them by means of a question, “Which is easier to say…?”
- As far as mouthing the words, one was just as easy to say as the other.
- As far as testing whether one had actually done one or the other, it would have been easier to say, “Your sins are forgiven” because there was no way to empirically verify whether or not those sins had actually been removed from the man’s spiritual account.
- For Jesus, one was just as easy to do as the other. But to show them what He already knew, He would not leave the matter without the proof of His authority that they needed to see.
- To prove that He was not a blasphemer, but was in fact God in the flesh and qualified to forgive sins, He healed the man’s paralysis (something that the skeptical scribes could not do) and told him to take his cot and go to his house.
THE CROWD’S REACTION (2:12)
- When the man did as Jesus told him, the people were amazed and offered praise to God realizing that they had never seen anything like that before.
- The word for “amazed” is a strong word: overwhelmed with astonishment. It is not hard to picture the gaping mouths and audible gasps. There was no other appropriate response but to give glory to (worship) God.