BRIEF RECAP: Mark’s emphasis in his writing is to reveal Jesus, the son of God, as a suffering servant who ultimately gives His life as a sacrifice. The spotless lamb of God in place of filthy (sin) sheep without a shepherd (Matthew 9:36)! For his readers to understand who Christ is, God in the flesh, he must reveal Christ’s authority over all things. He does that by sharing particular events in the life of Christ that do just that; shine a light on His divine power and authority in His teaching and over disease, paralysis, fever, demons, and nature.
So far, he has shared the synagogue accounts in Capernaum (1:21-22) that shed light on His authority in His teaching (1:22). Then a man with an unclean spirit (authority over demons or the spirit world) is healed (1:23-28). Simon’s mother-in-law is healed (1:30-33). His power and authority cast out many more with various diseases and demons, clearly revealing to all with “eyes to see and ears to hear,” that He has divine authority over every area of creation!
And this focus continues into our next chapter with Mark sharing the account of Jesus healing a paralytic and forgiving his sins!
2 When Jesus came back to Capernaum a few days later, it was heard that He was at home. 2 And many were gathered together, so that there was no longer space, not even near the door; and He was speaking the word to them. 3 And some people *came, bringing to Him a man who was paralyzed, carried by four men. 4 And when they were unable to [a]get to Him because of the crowd, they removed the roof [b]above Him; and after digging an opening, they let down the pallet on which the paralyzed man was lying. 5 And Jesus, seeing their faith, *said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” 6 But some of the scribes were sitting there and thinking it over in their hearts, 7 “Why does this man speak that way? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins except God alone?” 8 Immediately Jesus, aware [c]in His spirit that they were thinking that way within themselves, *said to them, “Why are you thinking about these things in your hearts? 9 Which is easier, to say to the paralyzed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven’; or to say, ‘Get up, and pick up your pallet and walk’? 10 But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—He *said to the paralyzed man, 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
FOCUS ONE: He goes BACK to Capernaum, from the Galilean region, and I find it interesting that it took “several days” for the news that He was at home to get around usually the people are “hot on His heels.” This home is considered most likely Peter and Andrew’s house (1:29). Remember, Jesus stated that He has no place to lay His head (Matthew 8:19-20)! Most likely, this was His base of operations in that part of the country. We quickly learn from Mark that even this place He called His home afforded Him no privacy.
Mark tells us this house quickly filled up once the people learned that Jesus was there. So much so, there was no more room inside, “even near the door.” Perhaps these people wanted to see more miracles. Who wouldn’t? BUT Jesus wasn’t doing miracles in the house; He was speaking the word to them (2:2).
For us to understand the actions of these four men who brought a paralytic on a pallet to Jesus, we need to be able to visualize the layout of a typical Palestinian peasant’s house:
“*It was usually a small, one-room structure with a flat roof. Access to the roof was by means of an outside stairway. The roof itself was usually made of wooden beams with thatch and compacted earth in order to shed the rain. Sometimes tiles were laid between the beams and the thatch and earth placed over them.”
These four men carry this paralytic to see Jesus. They quickly observed how over-crowded this house was, and apparently, they were persistent in their endeavor and promptly came up with “plan B.” They carry the man up the stairs and proceed to take Peter and Andrew’s roof off! That is not something you can plan for when contemplating going into ministry.
I wonder what expression Jesus had on His face as that roof opened up and the man was let down to the floor. Indeed He recognized their “ingenuity and persistent faith” (2:5). But Jesus seeing their faith (especially the four men), tells the man that his sins are forgiven rather than healing him. My guess is that wasn’t what they expected.
6 But some of the scribes were sitting there and thinking it over in their hearts, 7 “Why does this man speak that way? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins except God alone?” 8 Immediately Jesus, aware [c]in His spirit that they were thinking that way within themselves, *said to them, “Why are you thinking about these things in your hearts? 9 Which is easier, to say to the paralyzed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven’; or to say, ‘Get up, and pick up your pallet and walk’? 0 But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—He *said to the paralyzed man, 11 “I say to you, get up, pick up your pallet, and go home.”
FOCUS TWO: CONFLICT WITH SOME SCRIBES
If we read through the gospel accounts, we would quickly observe how hard-hearted the scribes and Pharisees were. They often “reasoned in their hearts” that what Jesus was doing was powered by the devil and what He was speaking to the crowds was blasphemous (Matthew 9:3-4, for example). Jesus, “being aware of their thoughts,” confronts them!
The scribes say that He is blaspheming because only God can forgive sins. They are 100% correct that God alone can forgive sins, but their thinking is incorrect is that Emmanuel (God with us) is committing blasphemy when He exerts His divine power to do so! Many of the scribes and Pharisees did not view Jesus as the long-awaited Messiah that was prophesied about in the Old Testament.
The scribes most likely expected healing, but Jesus pronounces that the man’s sins are forgiven. Jesus confronts them with the probing question, “which is easier to say? Your sins are forgiven or rise and walk?” Jesus doesn’t give the scribes time to answer. The question He posed is meant to elicit deeper thinking on their part.
Obvious, even to us, is that telling someone that their sins are forgiven is the easiest of the two. Why? Because no one can see that take place. No one can prove that they have or haven’t been forgiven. On the other hand, healing someone entirely of their life-crippling physical condition would be VERY apparent to all!
So, Jesus does both! How cool is that? But His purpose in doing so was much more profound than simply healing one of His creations, as awesome as that is. His greater purpose is expressed in verse 10″ “But in order that you may know that the Son of Man (messianic title) has authority on earth to forgive sins, He said to the paralytic, ‘I say to you, arise, take up your pallet and go home.'”
FOCUS THREE: The whole point of Mark sharing this account – Jesus working this way, IS “So that you will know that the Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins.”
It is about His authority on earth!
Mark, like Matthew, chose to share these miracles and healings of Jesus to help their readers grasp the simple truth that Jesus, the Son of Man, is the long-awaited Messiah! He is the suffering servant that Isaiah prophesied about (Isaiah 53)!
These words to the paralytic would become two things:
- * A test of faith
- A demand for obedience
The paralytic arose (acted in faith) and walked out of the sight of everyone there (obedience), including the hard-hearted and skeptical scribes! There can only be one correct response to the power of God when it is manifested.
The appropriate response to His authority can only be to glorify Him! The wonder and amazement at what just took place overcame them all, INCLUDING the scribes (v. 12).
Christ is not physically walking on earth with us, healing people, and casting out demons, BUT He still does such things on a daily basis around our world. Cancerous cells are no longer in the body. People who should no longer walk, talk, or even see again ARE! Sinners living life under the influence of Satan (John 8:44-45) are redeemed, cleansed, and made new!
Which is easier to believe? That these people were lucky, OR that the Son of Man (Jesus) still exercises His authority over all creation?
But so that you may know that the Son of God has authority over all His creation, He led these gospel writers to write down these accounts so that you and I would be amazed at His compassion, astounded by His power, and would give Him praise to the glory of His name!
He then leaves home and goes to the seashore. All the multitudes were coming to Him!
*The Expositors Bible Commentary, pg. 632; pg. 113