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Feb 21, 2016

Son, Your Sins are Forgiven

Passage: Mark 2:1-12

Speaker: Scott Jeffreys

Series: Mark: An Action Packed Gospel

Imagine the shock. You are at a party. Standing room only. The place is packed. You can hardly move. Then, all of a sudden, popcorn speckles and sheet rock start falling from the ceiling and five more guests, who couldn’t get in through the front door, enter through the roof in order to get into the party.

When I read this story of the four men who lowered their paralytic friend through the roof in order to see Jesus this is what I think of. Or I think back to the old days of big concerts when there was no such thing as reserved seating and ticket holders would rush to the front stage when the doors opened, sometimes trampling on each other, in order to get the best seat in the house. People will do most almost anything when they are desperate for something.

The paralytic and his four friends were desperate. They had heard about Jesus and his healings and this was their last hope. Up to this point nothing else had worked and if Jesus couldn’t heal him then nothing could; the man would be resolved to a life of paralysis. They were desperate but so were a lot of other people; hence they couldn’t get through the door. Plan B- somehow hoist their friend on top of the roof, dig a hole through it, and drop themselves right smack dap in the middle of the service. The audacity. The faith.

The Heart of the Matter

But as stunning as that was, what would happen next was even more stunning. Jesus looked at the paralytic and said to him, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” What? ... What did you just say?... You heard me. I said, “Sin, your sins are forgiven.” …But that’s not why my friends brought me here today. They brought me because I am paralyzed and I desire to walk again… I know, but “Son, your sins are forgiven.”

Jesus had an amazing way of taking people to the heart of what was really ailing them. He got down to the nitty gritty and had this way of bringing people face to face with their greatest need in life.

Do you remember the story of Nicodemus in John chapter three? When Nicodemus, a Pharisee and teacher of the Law, came to Jesus by night and said, “Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miracles you are doing if God were not with him.”

Then Jesus stopped Nicodemus midsentence and said to him, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the Kingdom of God unless he is born again.”

Before Nicodemus was ever able to get a word out of his mouth about why he had come to Jesus, Jesus had already taken him to the heart of what he needed-salvation.

Jesus does the same thing with the paralytic. To a great extent, what the paralytic thinks he needs and what he actually needs are two different things. He thinks he needs physical healing from his paralysis, and to some extent he is right, his body his paralyzed. But what he really needs is salvation, spiritual rebirth, the forgiveness of sins, reconciliation unto God, life with God- both now and for all eternity. That’s what the paralytic really needs.

Do you remember what Jesus said to his disciples when he sent them out to do ministry in his name? He said, “Do not fear the one who can kill the body, but rather fear the one who can destroy both body and soul in hell.”[i] Or when Jesus said to his disciples, “What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?”[ii]

What if this man had only gotten physical healing but not the forgiveness of sins? In the physical healing he would have gained his body and the whole world as far he was concerned, but when his body finally did die his soul would have been forever lost. Physical healing without spiritual healing is a temporal and partial healing because eternal damnation awaits the lost, but spiritual healing without physical healing in this life is eternal because when one dies he or she will be completely healed everything anyway (body, mind, and spirit) because they will be in the healing presence of God. For this reason the paralytic got all he really needed when Jesus pronounced his sins forgiven, even though it took him awhile to figure it out.

Jesus Gives More than We Could Ever Ask for or Imagine

So what we have in the text is great grace from Jesus because he gives to the man so much more than he could have ever dreamt of when he first approached him to be healed of his paralysis.

One thing this story is teaching us is that our Lord knows far better than we when it comes to what is best for us. He is a good and gracious God. Our God, indeed, knows how to give good gifts to his children. If we who are sinful know how to do that for our own children, then how much more does our heavenly Father do it for us?

For Jesus to only do what the paralytic and his friends had requested would have been to shortchange the man on the greatest gift he could have ever received- the forgiveness of sins. This point raises the question of what do we want most from God? Do we want health, wealth, and happiness from God, or do we want to be reconciled unto God by having our sins forgiven through the blood of Christ.

A Stunning Pronouncement

But back to the text. This pronouncement that Jesus made about the man’s sins being forgiven was a stunning claim. Some of the congregation, mainly the teachers of the law, were upset by the pronouncement. They said it was blasphemy. Blasphemy is an extreme charge. It is to profane the name and character of God. In OT times you were put to death for it, via stoning. And today you will still be put to death for it, in eternity, if you live a life that profanes the name of God by rejecting his mercy and grace in Jesus Christ and failing to follow him.

Well, was Jesus guilty of blasphemy when he pronounced the man’s sins forgiven? The question depends upon who Jesus Christ was. If Jesus Christ were a mere man, or only a man, then yes for him to say that the paralytic’s sins were forgiven was blasphemy. A mere man cannot forgive sins against God. But if he is more than a man, if he God in human flesh, then yes he may and he can forgive sins.

You see, in the mind of the teachers of the law the promised Messiah in the OT would not be God, but an exalted human who would come to do many things such as deliver Israel from political oppression. But one thing the Messiah would not do was forgive sins. Only God could do that. So along comes Jesus and he tells this paralytic in a self-authoritative way that his sins are forgiven. They were shocked and offended.

So what we have here in the text is a very subtle, yet explicit, claim to divinity by Jesus. Typically in the gospels Jesus does not directly come out and say that he is God, but rather says and does things like this that lead one to no other conclusion than that is exactly what he is saying about himself.

The teachers of the law heard Jesus clearly when he said, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” What they heard him saying in a very in your face kind of way was that I am God, and if Jesus was not God then the teachers of the law were right, he was a blasphemer, but if he is God in the flesh then he is no blasphemer, and he has the right and the power to forgive a person of their sins.

Who is Jesus Christ?

So the text raises a huge question for us, just as it did for everybody in the house. Who is Jesus Christ? Is he a blasphemer and a raging madman, whom you try to sugarcoat by saying well yes I believe he was a wise teacher and nice to the poor, but he is not God. Or is Jesus Christ God?

Your conclusion to the question and then how you respond to it will make all difference in the world as it concerns your life. How you answer and respond to that question will determine whether or not your sins are forgiven solely on the grounds of the grace of God that was accomplished for you on the cross (which really is the only way your sins can be forgiven by God because God is just; therefore your sins do deserve His wrath and condemnation (which you could never survive), but thanks be to God that in His mercy and grace He executed His wrath and condemnation on our wicked sins upon the sin bearing body of Jesus on the cross! Thus making a way for God to be true to His justice, while at the same time giving us grace, forgiveness, and reconciliation. What you do with this question of who Jesus is and how you will respond to him makes all the difference in the world.

You must answer the question. Who is Jesus Christ? Is he God? Or just a raving madman who said and did a few nice things? And then you must respond. Will you respond with your life in his hands or will you go your own way? (Fleetwood Mac) You can’t sit on the fence on these two questions. (The Rolling Stones) To refuse to answer the question and to refuse to respond is to not answer the question and to not respond.

In the mane of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, amen.             

 

 

[i] Matthew 10:28

[ii] Luke 9:23