But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (he saith to the sick of the palsy,) I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house. — Mark 2:10-11
Don Wolfe, a father in our Portland congregation, tells of a time when today’s text resolved a defining moment in his life. Don was attending a required psychology class in college. One day the professor said, “You know, the power of the mind is incredible. We just don’t realize how strong it is. There have been groups of people who have been ill, and half of them were given medicine, and the other half a placebo (unmedicated pill). The people did not know what kind of pill they were getting. Many times those who received the placebos got better. This illustrates that you can convince yourself, and you can control things with your mind.” As the professor continued, he implied that religions were just something in the mind. He said, “There are some religions that encourage weeping. You just spill out your feelings; it’s a wonderful release, and you feel better.”
As Don listened to the professor, the devil tried to make him doubt God and his own salvation, and a battle began within his soul. That night in a church service, the minister preached from Mark 2. The Lord reminded Don of a time some years before when his two-year-old daughter, Connie, had been terribly sick with a raging fever. That Saturday evening was a prayer meeting at the church, and Don called requesting special prayer. As he was rocking the toddler, he listened to her labored breathing. Suddenly, she jumped out of his arms and began running around the apartment and giggling. When Don took hold of her arm, it was completely cool.
During that sermon, the minister read, “That ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (he saith to the sick of the palsy,) I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house.” The Lord said to Don, “So that you know that I make a difference in a life, who do you think healed Connie? You had no power over her mind that night.” That settled the battle for Don. He had a fresh assurance that God has the power to change lives, as well as heal the sick.
In today’s lesson, the scribes questioned the authority of Jesus to forgive the sins of the man brought by his four friends to Jesus. Knowing for certain that God has forgiven the sins that are in our past is one of the most powerful and liberating benefits of salvation. It is vital that we know Jesus has the authority to forgive. No one may have been able to tell from the outside that the sick man’s sins had been forgiven, but all who were present knew that he had been healed when he stood up and walked away with the bed on which he had been carried in!
Today, if you need forgiveness, you can be assured that Jesus has the authority and the desire to forgive your sins. If you are saved, you can be assured that Jesus has the authority and desire to forgive your unsaved loved ones if they will ask.
This section of the Book of Mark shows a contrast in responses to Jesus. The scribes and Pharisees opposed Him (verse 6), while the palsied man and Levi obeyed Him (verses 12 and 14).
As Jesus again entered into Capernaum, which had become His hometown, the news spread, and soon the house where He was teaching was overflowing with people. The houses in Jesus’ day had flat roofs made of clay that were hardened into tiles by baking, and these tiles were supported by sticks and branches. Stairways on the outside of the one-story houses went to the roofs. After carrying their friend up this stairway, the four men in today’s text were able to take off the tiles and make an opening in the roof.
Jesus was establishing to those present that He was the Son of God. The Jewish leaders knew that only God could forgive sins. When Jesus said that He forgave the man’s sins, these leaders understood that Jesus was claiming divine power, an action which they considered blasphemy. Since no one could see the forgiveness that took place, Jesus showed that He had divine power by healing the man. Then Jesus applied to Himself the title, “Son of man,” to emphasize His incarnation.
Verses 13 and 14 note the calling of Levi (another name for Matthew). Located at the intersection of several highways, Capernaum was a military and business center. The Roman government appointed the tax collectors who took commissions, and many of them greedily overcharged. Many people considered these tax collectors traitors, and hated them. Matthew was employed in this ignominious profession.
When Jesus said, “Follow me,” He was not suggesting that Matthew go on a short errand; Jesus was proposing a lifestyle change. While Peter, Andrew, James, and John could have gone back to fishing, Mathew’s decision was permanent, for it necessitated turning in his books and the money collected. Yet Matthew’s response was immediate and without reservation — he “arose and followed him.”
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
III. The opposition to the Son of God
A. The commencement of opposition to the Son of God
1. The healing of the paralytic (2:1-12)
a. Christ’s authority declared (2:1-5)
b. Christ’s authority questioned (2:6-7)
c. Christ’s authority demonstrated (2:8-12)
2. Further preaching and the call of Levi (2:13-14)
We can have full trust in the power and authority of the Lord to forgive sins and heal bodies because He has proven that power many times.