Which is easier: to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’? 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!” (Mark 2:9-12)
Jesus was ministering to a house full of people in Capernaum when a most unusual event occurred. Well, perhaps I shouldn’t just leave things at “a house full.” Mark tells us there was no room in the house, or in the doorway of the house. They were crammed in like sardines, hoping to hear the Master…praying for healing…looking for the One who was to redeem Israel.
I don’t mean to overwhelm your senses, but think about this scene: a packed house near a lake in the Mediterranean region, with fishermen who had been gutting their catch, old men who had walked for miles to get there, mothers holding children who were fussy, sweat dripping off people’s foreheads, and no air to be found. This was before air conditioning, daily showers and washing machines. Get the picture?
Then, as people patiently endured this less than ideal setting, dirt started to fall from the ceiling. It started as a nuisance at first, then a curiosity, and finally a major interruption. Four men with a paralytic friend had circumvented the crowd, scaled the dwelling, and begun the process of tearing away the roof so they could lower their friend to Jesus.
What a mess this must have been! But the mess and the unexpected appearance of a man on a pallet was not the biggest surprise. The shocker was Jesus’ claim to forgive the man of his sins.
You see, in Jesus’ culture, a paralytic was considered a sinner by default. It was assumed by many that his sickness was a result of his own sin or the sins of his parents. It was conceivable he might recover from his condition, but absurd to think anyone could take away the root of his problem: sin.
This is why Jesus forgave him first. “Your sins are forgiven!” What a simple thing to say, but a much harder thing to do. The man was indeed forgiven because Jesus had the power to make him right with God. However, the spiritual guides in the audience were furious! Had Jesus merely healed the man, they could have claimed His power came from the devil. But when he forgave the man the matter became one of clear-cut blaspheme…and someone needed to stop Him.
“But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins…” Jesus told the man to get up and go home, which he did, in “full view of them all.”
Everyone that day created a stink…the huddled crowd, Jesus who dared to forgive a sinner, the teachers of the law who condemned Jesus’ for His words, and the paralytic who walked out with his bed under his arm.
Somebody open a window…
Dear God, You always seem to stir things up. In Jesus’ name, Amen.