Forgiveness of Sins
Mark 1:46 tells us that because of Jesus’s ministry of healing and casting out demons “Jesus could no longer openly enter a town, but was out in desolate places, and people were coming to him from every quarter.” ESV[i]
Mark 2:1 tells us that Jesus returned to Capernaum after some days, and word got around that Jesus was at home. Because of this, Mark 2:2 says:
Soon the house where he was staying was so packed with visitors that there was no more room, even outside the door. While he was preaching God's word to them… NLT[ii]
People were flocking to Jesus. He healed the sick, cast out demons and taught the word of God. People flocked to Jesus by the thousands seeking healing, deliverance and truth.
I am using healing, deliverance and truth to summarize what Jesus was doing. When the crowds built up in one area, Mark tells us that Jesus moved on to the next. He explained:
“Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.” (Mark 1:38, ESV)
From this, I take it that Jesus considered teaching the truth to be His highest purpose.
People are still seeking healing, deliverance and truth.
For example, in the Philippines, Apollo Qibology claims to be the “Appointed Son of God.” His church claims to have 6 million followers.[iii] Of course, 6 million is nothing compared to the 1.8 billion Muslims in the world.[iv] Humanity is searching for truth, for healing and for deliverance.
In their search, people flock to anyone who appears to have an answer.
People are searching and have been since the days of Jesus.
Mark 2 tells of a paralyzed man whose four friends brought him to Jesus. Now, these friends did the right thing, because, as we know, Jesus is the answer. Jesus is the way and the truth and the life.
The paralyzed man could not come by himself so his friends carried him to Jesus. However, when they got to the house where Jesus was, they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd. So, they dug a hole through the roof of the house and lowered the man, “right down in front of Jesus.” (Mark 2:4, NLT)
If the world is lost and confused, and it is, then we as believers need to bring people to Jesus.
Notice, the friends did not try to heal their friend themselves. They simply brought him to Jesus. Jesus taught, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6, ESV) You and I do not have to be the answer. Jesus is the answer. 2 Corinthians 5:20 tells us:
Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. ESV
Bringing people to Jesus is our role as ambassadors.
The paralyzed man and his friends ran into an obstacle. The crowd was too large and there was no way to get to Jesus. Therefore, they went up on the roof and made a hole, lowering their friend down in front of Jesus.
When you and I try to bring our friends and neighbors to Jesus, we also will run into obstacles. We might not have to dig through a roof, but we will have to do some digging. Our digging starts with prayer.
In 1 Corinthians 3:6, the Apostle Paul talks about how he planted and Apollos watered, but God caused the growth. In the same way, none of us causes the growth. We might plant over a number of years by being a good neighbor and friend. God might use somebody else to water that seed. If God has given you a burden for a family member, a friend or a neighbor, start by praying. Do not stop praying and trust the Lord to use you.
In the account in Mark, the friends brought the paralyzed man to Jesus for healing. In effect, their prayer was, “Heal our friend.”
Healing or deliverance is where we usually start. We pray for healing of physical disease. We pray for help with relationships and family problems. We pray for help with disasters and troubles. We come to Jesus with problems too big for us. However, consider with me where Jesus starts.
The first thing Jesus said to the paralyzed man is, “My child, your sins are forgiven.” (Mark 2:5, NLT)
Jesus starts with the person’s relationship with God.
When Jesus started His ministry He preached, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:15, ESV)
John the Baptist, who prepared the way before Jesus, preached the same message of repentance.
Jesus and the one who prepared the way before Him came to restore people’s relationship to God, and the first thing to be dealt with is our sin. Our sins come between us and God. The relationship is broken.
The Bible is clear. “…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23, ESV)
Sin, guilt and shame are a huge problem for us. Shame is a painful emotion resulting from the realization that one has done something wrong, and is also a part of self-loathing. Shame and vulnerability researcher Brene Brown claims, “Shame is highly correlated with addiction, depression, eating disorders, suicide, violence, and bullying.”[v] Psychology tries to deal with guilt and shame as problems of the mind, and there are as many approaches to this problem as there are psychologists. However, Jesus dealt with it in one sentence. “My child, your sins are forgiven.” (Mark 2:5, NLT)
This is the first and deepest need of the human soul, to know that our sins are forgiven. Romans 8:1 says:
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. ESV
Sin, guilt and shame are huge problems for us because they represent a broken relationship with God, but God has removed the sin and therefore the guilt and shame. In addition, we know that God accepts us. In fact, John 1:12 tells us that when we receive Jesus, we gain the right to be God’s children.
We, as the Church, have a ministry of healing, deliverance and truth. The forgiveness of our sins, our acceptance by God and relationship to Him as His children is far more important than deliverance from physical suffering. In fact, God uses physical suffering in the lives of His children. This is why James 1:2 says, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds.” ESV
Jesus told the paralyzed man that his sins were forgiven because his need for forgiveness was much greater than his need to walk. He could live without walking, but he would die an eternal death if he remained in his sins.
But, there was a problem - not everyone accepted that Jesus could forgive sins.
When Jesus told the man his sins were forgiven, Mark 2:7 tells us:
Upon hearing this some of the teachers of religious law were outraged. They thought to themselves, “What is he saying? This is blasphemy! Only God can forgive sins!” (Mark 2:7, NLT)
Throughout His ministry, Jesus claimed to be God. Some people tried to stone Him for making such a claim. However, Jesus demonstrated that He was God by the things He did.
Jesus knew what was in the hearts of those present and so He discerned their thoughts and reaction. We do not know what people are thinking, but if we talk to people, we will discover that many of them have different ideas about who Jesus is.
Even in His day, people did not agree on who Jesus was. Therefore, on more than one occasion, Jesus asked His disciples:
“Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” (Matthew 16:13-14, ESV)
Notice the different answers people gave. People answered based on their experience, education and current political context. They fit Jesus into what they knew. We all do this.
However, who did Jesus say He was? Isn’t this to be considered?
Jesus claimed to be God. In the passage before us, the teachers of religious law were right. Only God can forgive sins. However, if Jesus was God, then they were wrong to say it was blasphemy. For a man to say, “Your sins are forgiven,” is blasphemy, but for God to say, “Your sins are forgiven,” is grace.
Anyone claiming to be God either is a liar or is crazy unless, of course, they truly are God.
The Old Testament authors spoke of one who was to come. Jesus met all the requirements, predictions and prophesies. In addition, Jesus offered many convincing proofs. He did things that only God can do. He healed the blind and even raised the dead to life again. But even greater than this, He predicted His death and resurrection and then fulfilled His predictions. Romans 1:4 tells us:
[He] … was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead… ESV
Of course, at the time of the miracle in Mark 2, while Jesus had the testimony of the Old Testament Scriptures, he did not yet have the resurrection so He said:
9Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk’? 10But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the paralytic— 11“I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.” (Mark 2:9-11, ESV)
The key point for us today is:
…that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins...
The world is seeking for something they do not understand. What they need is Jesus. They need their sins forgiven and their relationship with God restored.
Are you searching today? Do you want your sins forgiven?
Come to Jesus.
[i] Scripture quotations marked ESV are from The ESV Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version) copyright 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
[ii] Scripture quotations marked NLT are from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation. Copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Steam, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
[iii] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apollo_Quiboloy. Accessed August 2, 2017.
[iv] http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/05/26/muslims-and-islam-key-findings-in-the-u-s-and-around-the-world/. Accessed August 2, 2017.
[v] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/derek-flood/sin-guilt-and-psychology-_b_4883456.html. Accessed August 3, 2017.