THE SON OF MAN HAS AUTHORITY ON EARTH TO FORGIVE SINS
Key Verse 2:10
“But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins….”
Last week the newspapers bombarded us with catastrophic bad news coming in the form of cyclones and earthquakes. From the pages of the paper we never find an end to bad news. Jesus also faced people’s bad news head on, but he didn’t leave people without a solution. The solution he gave was the preaching of God’s word and forgiving their sins. People who are blinded to the spiritual world may feel such help is irrelevant. Actually those who hold onto God’s word and go to Jesus for the forgiveness of sins can confidently join the Psalmist who said, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea…” (Ps 46:1,2) Let us now join the many people who went to be with Jesus when he came to visit his home in Capernaum.
Part 1. “Son, Your Sins are Forgiven”
Look at verses 1and 2: “A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. So many gathered that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them.” Mark does not tell how long Jesus was away from Capernaum preaching the good news of the Kingdom of God in other towns and villages. It must have been long enough that he felt it was time to come back to his home base and get a little rest. The house in Capernaum, he had made his temporary home was probably Peter’s home. Previously Jesus had made such a life changing impact on the people of Capernaum that now they couldn’t keep themselves from forcing their way into this home he was staying in. What is of special note is what Jesus gave these people who crowded and crammed and jammed their way into this house. Mark tells us “he preached the word to them.” Maybe they hoped Jesus would perform for them more miracles. Instead he preached God’s word. The reality Jesus will not always be around in their visible midst but what will always be with them is the faithful word of God. When a person has God’s word, they have all the powerful Jesus Christ working in their lives through the word of God. Every week I find myself facing trials that always end up really disturbing me. For this reason the verse from James 1:2 has been the word of God I every week for my Christian life have looked to in order to find God’s help in these never ending trials. It reads, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.” Again and again, countless times by the power of this word of God I have been able to change very disturbing trials into pure joy. Honestly, I don’t think I would have ever survived my trials without this verse. On the other hand because of this verse not only did I survive my numerous trials, even better Jesus working through this word of God turned my many disturbing trials into pure joy.
Look at verses 3 and 4. “Some men came, bringing to him a paralytic, carried by four of them. Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd…” While Jesus was preaching the word to the people inside the house, outside four men were trying to carry a paralytic man to him. To be paralyzed must be one of this life’s worst sicknesses or injuries. God has given us arms and legs so we can work hard the weekdays and play hard on the weekends. These days I find my weak knees keep me from enjoying sports such as soccer with the young people in our church or even playing basketball with my son. Last week my son Samuel beat me 10 to 0 in basketball because all I could do was play like a statue. Still my condition is nothing compared to being paralyzed. I still am able to go to work and bring home a pay check to help support my family. On the other hand this paralytic not only couldn’t do simple task such as walk slowly, he couldn’t even wash when he was dirty. Even the most basic human function of going to bathroom he had to be assisted. With that said what he lacked in physical ability we believe he made up with faith in Jesus. We know from the brief conversation Jesus had with him he could understand and appreciate Jesus. Maybe he prayed. Maybe he also asked; somehow he was able to get four strong Jesus-believing men to carry him to Jesus to be healed.
After much effort they all finally reached the home Jesus was in but no one would allow them to come in. What would we do if literally great number of people told us: “No, you can’t go see Jesus?” Would we become offended and just give up? This group of people didn’t become discouraged for even a minute. Their faith in Jesus was not resting on the kindness of men. Rather their faith in Jesus allowed them to overcome the many weaknesses of men. If we look to the goodness of men to get us to Jesus, eventually the weaknesses of men will turn us from Jesus. Jesus Christ is God’s great promise of salvation to every person. The only thing that is impossible for God to do is to lie. This is why by all possible ways we must come to Jesus, because only in Jesus Christ do we find God giving promise after promise he will bless and save those who are in Christ. When we reach Jesus by faith nothing can keep us from being blessed and saved because nothing can cause God to lie.
Again if we look at the four men carrying this paralytic some people give them as examples of what it means to be a real friend. True friends can cowork and encourage one another rather than always try to undermine each other’s success with petty selfish ambitions. Most obvious of all true friends help each other to come to Jesus Christ. If a friend keeps us from Jesus, he/she is not really a friend; he/she is Satan in disguise.
Let us look again at the reaction of the four friends as they are stopped by this wall of people keeping them from Jesus. When their conventional way of getting to Jesus was closed, they went to Plan B, an unconventional way. Here is where we have to use our imaginations. One checked for another door. There was none. Another checked for a window they could possibly climb through. This too was not an option. Then they thought of getting to Jesus from the roof. Obviously this way would take much greater effort, along with team work and even courage. Even the paralyzed man needed to overcome his fear of the possibility of accidentally being dropped. Maybe one stood on the shoulder of another and pulled himself up to the roof. Once up he helped another climb up. Then with two on the roof and two on the ground they were able to lift and pull the paralytic up onto the roof. Once on the roof they began digging a large enough hole in the roof to lower the man to Jesus. This act itself must have stirred up many angry reactions. Roofing material fell on people’s hair, face, head and clothes. Maybe the owner of the house yelled at them: “You’re destroying my roof! You’re going to have to pay or a new roof!”
Now the question is how Jesus reacted to their unconventional method of coming to him. Look at verse 5a: “When Jesus saw their faith …” Jesus didn’t see what they did as something rude or destructive. What he did see is their faith which gave them the power to overcome all obstacles to get to Jesus. We are reminded of Hebrews 11:6: “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” These four men and this paralytic fulfilled every word of this verse. They obviously believed the all healing power of God existed in Jesus Christ. Then they made every effort to get their friend to Jesus even if it meant digging a hole in the roof and lower the paralytic to the feet of Jesus. Because all these actions were done by faith in Jesus, each one greatly pleased Jesus even though their actions offended many others. Just like Hebrews 11:6 promises Jesus now wanted to reward their faith. Let us see the reward Jesus gave them. Read verse 5b: “Son your sins are forgiven.” Jesus forgave the paralytic’s sins as a reward for all their faith. It seems obvious forgiveness of sins was not the reward the paralytic and the friends were really looking for. Some people might say: “Forgiveness of sins is nice but it won’t put food on my table; it won’t allow me to get married, and it won’t allow me to enjoy life like everyone else.” Others might say: “There is nothing wrong with forgiveness of sins but if I have to live my whole life inside this paralyzed body, I really don’t want to keep living. I had a friend who thought like that. He became a quadriplegic after a bus hit him while he was riding his motorcycle. After the accident I tried to give him faith and hope in Jesus. Strangely he rejected hope and help in Jesus. He wanted to pursue his healing by the power of positive thinking. About 10 years after his accident I was told he committed suicide. On the other hand we know other people who also had an accident that left them paralyzed and they are the most hopeful people you will ever meet. Such a person is Joni Ericson. This woman discovered Jesus through her accident that left her paralyzed neck down. Jesus now uses her to minister and bless people all over the world. She sings for Jesus. Using her mouth to hold the brush she paints pictures that are as inspiring as paintings done by Claude Monet or Michael Angelo. Through her personal testimony about Christ she has brought the light of Jesus to many others who also have disabilities.
Jesus said to this paralyzed man: “Son your sins are forgiven.” The more we think about Jesus reward to this man we come to discover it really is the best reward of all. Sometimes I think about the huge prison population in America. Most of these men and women are very healthy. They are also very smart. Nevertheless, many of them are repeat offenders. Quite literally they are paralyzed in their ability not to sin. The world famous neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson shared how in high school he had an ambition to become a doctor; at the same time he knew if he couldn’t overcome his anger problem he very well one day would end up in jail instead of working in an operating room. His sin came to a head one day when he almost stabbed his friend in his stomach with a knife. By the grace of God his knife blade broke in his friends belt buckle. Right then and there young Ben ran to his house, locked himself in his bathroom and called on Jesus Christ to rescue him from his anger problem. He cried and he repented. Jesus heard his sincere pleas for help and healed him of his anger problem. We might not be physically paralyzed but this does not mean sin is not parlaying us from reaching the full potential God has created us to reach. The only way we can reach the full potential God has created us to achieve is if we repent and call on Jesus Christ to save us from our sins. As many of you may know one of my favorite bible verses is Acts: 3:26: “When God raised up his servant, he sent him first to you to bless you by turning each of you from your wicked ways.” Sometimes I find my sin is in danger of ruining God’s calling and testimony in my life. When I see this happening I claim this promise of God. I call on Jesus Christ to bless me by turning me from my wicked ways.
Part 2. “That You May Know the Son of Man Has Authority to Forgive Sins.”
Look at verses 6 and 7. “Now some teachers of the law were sitting there thinking to themselves, ‘Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?’” Because Jesus’ reward did not physically change this man, the teachers of the law who had front row seats, naturally thought Jesus was blaspheming, that is trying to do something only God had authority to do. They didn’t vocalize their strong disapproval of what Jesus said; they only thought it. To give them the benefit of the doubt we can see why such thoughts may have come up. Actually any person could say to this paralyze man: “Your sins are forgiven.” Jesus who is the Son of God knew in his spirit this is what they were thinking. For their own salvation Jesus didn’t want them to remain in such strong unbelief. Let us read verses 8b and 9: “Why are you thinking these things? Which is easier: to say to the paralytic, “Your sins are forgiven, or to say, “Get up, take your mat and walk?” Human beings never connect the word easy with forgiveness of sins or much more the healing a paralyzed man. When someone wrongs us we find it extremely difficult to forgive them. As for healing a paralyze person, I never have heard of modern medical advancement healing a paralyze person. What we must understand is Jesus is not just a great man of God. He is the Son of God. We find Jesus in Genesis 1 co-working with God in creating all things from the simple use of their words alone. John 1:3 reveals this about Jesus “Through him all things made; without him nothing was made that has been made.” Actually everything that is impossible and hard for us is easy for Jesus. This is why we don’t want to trust ourselves or other weak people like ourselves. We want to place our 100 percent trust in Jesus Christ. Romans 10:11 promises us: “As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” What is far too hard or impossible for us to do is actually very easy for Jesus to do.
Let us read verses 10-12: “But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins… he said to the paralytic “I tell you, get up take your mat and go home.” He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God saying, “We have never seen anything like this!” If we were to use one word to describe the level of difficulty it was for Jesus to give complete, 100 percent healing to this paralyzed man, the word “easy” would be the best word to use. Jesus is the God of Isaiah 40 where he declared: “Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket; they are regarded as dust on the scales; Lift your eyes and look to the heavens; Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them each by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.” Tonight look up in the sky and count the stars if you can. Then ask who created them and who knows each one by name and keeps them in their place? The answer would be God through Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is truly awesome.
The healing of this paralytic, though amazing to us was easy for Jesus. Nevertheless, this was not Jesus’ point. Jesus said his point was: “So that we may know that the Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” Most people are not paralyzed; because of this they may have a tendency to speed read through this passage. Not withstanding this passage has extremely eternal important personal application to every person on earth. In it we find the one sure authority we can go to for the forgiveness of our sins. This authority is Jesus Christ. Though it may be very difficult for us to forgive, it is very easy for Jesus to give us of all our sins. Unfortunately some people do not have a sense of problem about sin nor the need to be forgiven of it. In fact they feel sin is the spice of life. Jesus Christ taught sin is definitely something we should take very seriously. He shared with his disciples in Mark 8:43:”If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell where the fire never goes out. And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than to have two feet and be thrown into hell.” On and on Jesus describes why we must take sin very seriously. According to Jesus there is something much worse than a cyclone that killed more than 60,000 people in Myanmar last week. There is even something much worse than an earthquake that in a matter of second leveled huge buildings in china and left in its wake more than 22,000 people both young and old dead. This thing that is worse is hell itself. In today’s passage Jesus with all his being is trying to help us know he alone is the one and only authority on earth we can come to by faith for the forgiveness.
In teaching his disciples how to daily pray, one of the prayer topics Jesus taught them to pray was: “Forgive our sin as we forgive those who sin against us. Daily we should pray; “Father in heaven through Jesus Christ your Son forgive my sins as I forgive those who sin against me.” The easy part is Jesus forgiving our sins. The hard part is for us to forgive others. Even in this Jesus will help us. If find we can’t bring ourselves to forgive others, we need only to ask Jesus who is the expert in forgiveness and he will empower us to forgive others.
Today we learn Jesus rewards those who come to him by faith. Most importantly we thank God Jesus clearly made known to us and reminded us he is the one we must come to by faith for the forgiveness of our sins. I will now finish this message with applicable verses taken from Isaiah 55: “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.”