WHO CAN FORGIVE SINS?
Mark 2:1 And again he entered into Capernaum after some days; and it was noised that he was in the house. 2 And straightway many were gathered together, insomuch that there was no room to receive them, no, not so much as about the door: and he preached the word unto them. 3 And they come unto him, bringing one sick of the palsy, which was borne of four. 4 And when they could not come nigh unto him for the press, they uncovered the roof where he was: and when they had broken it up, they let down the bed wherein the sick of the palsy lay. 5 When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee. 6 But there were certain of the scribes sitting there, and reasoning in their hearts, 7 Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies? who can forgive sins but God only? 8 And immediately when Jesus perceived in his spirit that they so reasoned within themselves, he said unto them, Why reason ye these things in your hearts? 9 Whether is it easier to say to the sick of the palsy, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and take up thy bed, and walk? 10 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,) 11 I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house. 12 And immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went forth before them all; insomuch that they were all amazed, and glorified God, saying, We never saw it on this fashion.
The miracle is not the issue here! The miracle, which is usually dwelt on when this passage is preached, with all the various matters of the four friends and their faith, the roof tiles, the paralytic being lowered down into the presence of the Lord, and his walking home with his cot on his back, but these should only be used to bring a proof of the real issue! And just what is the real issue? The real issue is that no one but God can forgive sins!
Both Mark and Luke give us a glimpse of this stirring revelation in their closing verses of this account. Mark writes (2:12), that the people said, We never saw it on this fashion. And Luke reports of the people (Luke 5:26), And they were all amazed, and they glorified God, and were filled with fear, saying, We have seen strange things to day. But Matthew tends to convey the matter more closely to the understanding of the supernatural issue. For he records that the people are amazed that God had given such power of forgiving sins unto men. Matthew 9:8 But when the multitudes saw it, they marvelled, and glorified God, which had given such power unto men.
Therefore we learn that the critics of the Lord Jesus were exactly correct in their second question, for no one CAN forgive sins but God! And the report of Matthew is stating that the amazement was not just that the man was healed by the power of God, but that God had granted the authority to forgive sins to this man, Jesus!
First of all, dear Reader, you must keep in mind that Capernaum did not have such a good track record concerning miracles! In fact, when you honestly consider the assessment of the Lord concerning this, you will understand that they had the worst relationship and response to miracles of any other city in the world!
They did have great spiritual light from God! Matthew 4:13 And leaving Nazareth, he came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is upon the sea coast, in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim: 14 That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, 15 The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles; 16 The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up.
But unto whom much is given, much shall be required! And Capernaum did indeed have much to live up to. Matthew 11:20 Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not: 21 Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. 22 But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you. 23 And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. 24 But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee.
There is no other city, that this writer knows about, of whom it was stated by the Lord that they shall be brought down to hell! For the Lord even states that if Sodom had the same privilege of light that was given to Capernaum, of God living in their city, it would have remained until this day. So again, this miracle was not the real issue! For it was only a confirmation of the supernatural issue that Jesus Christ is very God! Listen to the Lord’s words again: Why reason ye these things in your hearts? 9 Whether is it easier to say to the sick of the palsy, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and take up thy bed, and walk? 10 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,) 11 I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house.
For just as the Lord cut off Nicodemus’ compliments, in order to steer him into the spiritual matters, so these at Capernaum, that made much of the peel, but threw away the banana, required the same directing! The miracles made anyone who was sick to be physically healthy. (Luke 6:19 And the whole multitude sought to touch him: for there went virtue out of him, and healed them all.) But these healing miracles did not automatically make them spiritually sound! As far as we are told, nine of the ten lepers healed by the Lord (Luke 17:11-19), went to hell in healthy bodies, free from leprosy. But only one was said to have faith, and was “made whole!’
Nicodemus was directed away from miracles to his need of the supernatural work of regeneration, or, the new birth of the Holy Spirit! For the Lord Jesus did not “commit” Himself by redemption to all who were physically healed.
John 2:23 Now when he was in Jerusalem at the passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did. 24 But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men, 25 And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man. 3:1 There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: 2 The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. 3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. That Greek word translated “believed” in verse 23 is the same Greek word translated, “commit” in verse 24. There was not always a true commitment of men regarding his miracles, therefore he gave them no true commitment of himself on that basis!
In verse ten of our Mark two passage we have the Lord Himself stating, without any possibility of misunderstanding, that the miracle of the healing of the paralytic was in proof that he had power (authority) from God to forgive sins! And since that was the case, he should be recognized the same as they recognized Jehovah! John 14:1 Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.
In fact, the Lord said that his working of miracles were greater proof than the witness of John the Baptist! John 5:8 Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk. 36 But I have greater witness than that of John: for the works which the Father hath given me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me.
And he proclaimed that the working of these miracles that no other man had ever done on earth were proof of his Deity; and that seeing them and failing to believe on him was actually considered by God as a hatred of the Son and the Father! John 15:24 If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father.
Also in John chapter five, he emphatically states that he has power to do the works that the Father does, in order that men may give him the same respect and honor as they gave his Father! John 5:19 Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise. 20 For the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth him all things that himself doeth: and he will shew him greater works than these, that ye may marvel. 23 That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him. 24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.
This is the very proclamation that the Lord Jesus Christ made prior to giving what religion has referred to as, “The Great Commission.” And the majority of the time the pulpit only reads Matthew 28:19 & 20, leaving out the most important point, listed in verse 18. For before he gives them permission to go outside of the bounds of Israel into all the world to proclaim his Lordship, he first tells them who it is that gives them such instruction. He is very God with “all authority” in both heaven and earth!
Matthew 28:18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. 19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
Dear Reader, the main reason that even in our day, when this passage is preached there is only the expounding upon the raising up of the paralytic man physically, is because the pulpits of our day will not admit that Jesus of Nazareth is presently reigning Lord! For they only wish to present him as a slain Lamb for men’s salvation. But they do not want to make him known as the sovereign Lion, ruling and reigning over all! So we only have a one-sided Jesus set forth. And we wonder why our nation is in such a mess! But, dear One, he saves as Lord! Acts 2:21 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved. Romans 10:13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
And it was as he accomplished redemption that he was set upon the throne of the majesty on high! Hebrews 1:3 Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; The accomplishment of redemption is the very reason for his being highly exalted by the Father!
Take note of this “wherefore” in Philippians 2:9! The last word of verse eight is “cross!” The “wherefore” then states that his wondrous work of completing redemption was the cause for the Father highly exalting him and giving his name to be more highly respected than that of any other name in the entire universe! Philippians 2:8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. 9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Some, thinking themselves to be such wonderful religionists, and wanting others to admire their syrupy spirituality, say they shall crown “Jesus” as Lord when they “get to heaven.” But God has already beat them to that! For he was “Lord” when he got here! Luke 2:11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
It is interesting to notice that the Lord Jesus could see the faith of those who bore the paralytic unto him. And seeing that faith, it is more interesting what his response was. He did not say, “Son, you body is healed!” What he did say unto the sick of the palsy, was, “Son, thy sins be forgiven thee.” For he knew that the greatest need for mankind to live completely healthy lay in the forgiveness of sin, which brought on disease to begin with. The Prophet Isaiah had this revealed to him as well. Isaiah 33:24 And the inhabitant shall not say, I am sick: the people that dwell therein shall be forgiven their iniquity.
Indeed, the blessed man, like a tree planted by the river of waters is of great spiritual benefit to his fellowmen. Psalm 1:3 And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. And his un-withering leaves provide various and wondrous healings for those with whom he associates in the world. Revelation 22:2 In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.
1 John 1:7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.
Pastor Gene Breed March 19, 2014