Mark 2:1-12


The clock in the back of the big church was well-known for its inability to keep time accurately.  Sometimes it would go too fast, and other times it would go too slow.  A number of attempts were made to fix the problem, but all to no avail.  Finally the preacher placed a sign over the clock which read, “Don’t blame the hands, the trouble lies deeper.”


There are a lot of problems in the world today, but the real reason lies deeper than all of the outward circumstances.  The problem with the world today can be summed up in one word - SIN.


What is sin?  The Bible defines sin as that which misses the mark of God’s perfection.  The Westminster Catechism says that sin is any want of conformity to or transgression of the law of God.  It is that which is contrary to the holiness and the justice of God.


One of the most distinctive things about Christianity is that it claims that sins can be forgiven.  This is the life-blood of the Christian message.  This is the message that was presented by Jesus.  And this is the message set forth in this chapter.





            When He had come back to Capernaum several days afterward, it was heard that He was at home.

            And many were gathered together, so that there was no longer room, not even near the door; and He was speaking the word to them. (Mark 2:1-2).


The last chapter ended with Jesus having healed a leper.  The news of that miracle had been spread abroad to the point that Jesus had been forced to leave the cities and retreat for a time to the county.


Now several days have passed.  The initial excitement has died down a bit.  And Jesus returns to the seaside town of Capernaum, located on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee.  The news quickly spreads that Jesus is back.  Once again a great crowd gathers so that it is a packed house.




            And they came, bringing to Him a paralytic, carried by four men. 4 And being unable to get to Him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above Him; and when they had dug an opening, they let down the pallet on which the paralytic was lying. (Mark 2:3-4).


As Jesus is teaching within the house, there comes down the street four men.  They are carrying a sturdy pallet on which they have secured a friend.


He is referred to here as a “paralytic.”  This is a transliteration of the Greek term paralutikon, a compound word made up of para (“along side of”) and luw (“to loose or destroy”).  It was a general word describing one who had lost control of his body (see Hebrews 12:12 for a figurative use when describing “the knees that are FEEBLE”).  This man could have been the victim of a stroke or some type of nerve disorder.


I cannot read this passage without thinking of my own father who suffered for years from a loss of bodily motor control.  He could not walk.  He could not dress himself.  His disability reached the point prior to his death where he could not feed himself.  He was totally dependent upon others to care for him.


This man was in the same predicament.  He could not even go to Jesus without help.  And so, his friends had placed him upon this pallet and had bound him securely in place so that he would not fall off and hurt himself.


Their excitement mounts as they move through the city streets and approach the house where Jesus is.  But their anticipation is dampened somewhat as they reach the house and find people already packed at the doorway, straining to hear the words of the Master within.


1.         These men dared to do the difficult.


It was not easy to bring this man to the Lord.  They had to carry him.  And when they found the doorway blocked, they had to carry him up an outside stairway to the roof.  I know what it is like to maneuver a litter up narrow stairs.  It is a difficult task.  Yet these men did not quit.


It isn’t easy to bring someone to Jesus.  In fact, it is often difficult.  But the rewards are worth the effort.


2.         They dared to do the unorthodox.

It was not customary in that day to do what they did any more than it would be an acceptable action today.  The acceptable thing would have been for them to wait outside until the crowd dispersed.  The action they took was completely out of the ordinary.


The remarkable thing is that Jesus never rebuked them, either for their interruption of His teaching or for the damage to the roof.  He seems to have approved of their unorthodox methods.


How about you?  Are you so tied into the status quo that you are bound to doing things “because we’ve always done it that way”?  Nothing is more deadly in a church than such an attitude.


3.         They dared to do the costly.


Somebody was going to have to pay for roof repairs (I doubt that his homeowner’s policy covered it).  And that somebody was going to be those four men.  When you do something for Christ, it will COST.


Imagine the surprise of those within the house.  They are sitting and standing wall-to-wall to hear Jesus.  He has been speaking to them of sin and repentance and the kingdom of God.


We probably should not imagine the cutting of a hole in a wooden roof so that those beneath were exposed to falling debris and sawdust, but rather the removal of thatch and perhaps some boards.

Suddenly, there is a noise above their heads and a portion of the ceiling is removed.  They look up to see several faces staring back down.  The hole in the ceiling widens and then, a pallet is lowered to the floor.  On it lies a man.  He may not even have been able to speak.  We are not told that he made any request.  He has only been placed at the feet of Jesus.


We are like that man.  We have been paralyzed with sin.  It affects everything that we do and everything that we say.  We are helpless in its grip.  The only way that we can even come to Jesus is in a state of complete helplessness.  We must be brought.  And we have been brought.  We have been brought by the ministry of the Holy Spirit.  And we have also been brought through the ministry of the bearers of the bed.


If you have come to Christ and have received spiritual healing in the forgiveness of your sins, then you have been given this commission.  You have been called to be a bearer of the bed.  You have been commissioned to bring other helpless people to Jesus.  You may not have to dig through someone else’s ceiling to do it.  But it will take effort.  And it will require you to do the unorthodox.  And it will cost.





            And Jesus seeing their faith said to the paralytic, “My son, your sins are forgiven.” (Mark 2:5).


In those days, there was something of a social stigma against anyone who was afflicted with a disease.  It was a common feeling of that day that if you were sick or suffering with some disease, it was because of some sin in your life.


You remember the time that Jesus was in the temple with His disciples and they saw a man who had been blind from birth.


            And as He passed by, He saw a man blind from birth. 2 And His disciples asked Him, saying, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he should be born blind?” (John 9:1-2).


The disciples thought that someone must have sinned to cause this blindness.  They were right to a certain extent.  There is a sense in which all disease and sickness in the world is caused by sin.  It has come about because of that first sin in the Garden of Eden.  If there were no sin, then there would be no sickness and no disease.  However, this does not mean that everyone who becomes sick is sick because of some specific sin in their life.


As a side note, we ought to see that these men came with the implied request that their friend be physically healed.  Instead, he was first given a spiritual healing.  The lesson is that God, in His grace, sometimes answers our prayers in a way that is different from that for which we have asked.

That was the mistake Job’s friends made.  They saw that he was sick and that bad things had happened to him and so they went to him and advised him to confess the hidden sin in his life.  Job responded, “I haven’t done anything!”  If you read through the rest of the story, you will find that God ultimately came and rebuked the three friends of Job for their baseless accusations against him.


Here is the principle.  Bad things don’t necessarily happen to someone just because they have been bad.  And the corollary to that principle is just as true - that good things don’t happen to people just because they are good.


Nevertheless, the ultimate reason that suffering and pain and sickness and death are in the world today is because of sin.

Thus as Jesus moves to minister to the needs of this man, He first moves to the root of his problem - his sin.


He says in verse 5, “My son, your sins are forgiven.”  This is the reason that Jesus came to the earth.  It was so that He could provide a way of forgiveness of sins.


A righteous God cannot allow sin to go unpunished.  We wouldn’t think too much of a judge who had a murderer or a rapist brought into his court if he said, “Well, I know that you are guilty, but I want to be a nice guy and so I am going to let you go.”  Such a judge would be unjust.


God is not an unjust judge.  He came forth with a plan that would provide a just judgment for sin, and yet still provide salvation for men.  That plan was the cross.  When Jesus died upon the cross, it was as our substitute.  He died in our place and suffered the penalty that we deserved.  And because of that, Jesus could say to this man, “Your sins are forgiven.”  This brings us to a problem.  Only God can forgive sins.





            But some of the scribes were sitting there and reasoning in their hearts, 7 why does this man speak that way?  He is blaspheming; who can forgive sins but God alone?” (Mark 2:6-7).


The scribes were those whose duty it was to copy the Scriptures.  They were entrusted with the Law of God.  They thought of themselves as guardians of the truth.  And they took their duties very seriously.  This is why they had come to hear Jesus.  They wanted to see if He was speaking the truth.  They wanted to make certain that His ministry was in compliance with the Law of God.


To tell you the truth, I find myself identifying with these men.  They loved the word of God and they hated false teaching.  They had stood firm against all of the false religions of a pagan world.  And when they heard a man saying, “Your sins are forgiven,” it bothered them because they knew that only God is able to forgive sins.  They were familiar with the words of the Lord as recorded in the prophet Isaiah.


            “I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake; and I will not remember your sins.” (Isaiah 43:25).


These Scriptures were right.  Only God can forgive sins.  And for a mere man to say what Jesus was saying is blasphemy.

Don’t miss this!  You cannot listen to what Jesus has just said and conclude that He is only a good man.  He is either a liar or a lunatic on the level of a poached egg or else His is the Lord.  There is no other choice.





            Immediately Jesus, aware in His spirit that they were reasoning that way within themselves, said to them, “Why are you reasoning about these things in your hearts?

            “Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven’; or to say, ‘Get up, and pick up your pallet and walk’?

            “But so 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, get up, pick up your pallet and go home.” (Mark 2:8-11).


These scribes did not speak their thoughts or voice their disapproval.  But it made no difference to Jesus.  He could read their hearts.  This is something else that only God can do.  Jesus asks them a question.  It is a question regarding the easier of two feats.


“Your sins are forgiven you!”


Arise, take up your bed, and walk!”



This is a rhetorical question.  The truth is that neither is easier.  Both are equally impossible for men to do.  Both are possible only with God.


On the other hand, it is possible for a man to claim that he can forgive sins when you can’t prove whether or not it had really come to pass.


It is for this reason - that there might be EVIDENCE of the forgiveness of sins - that Jesus healed this man of his physical ailment.  By doing to visible, He proves that he has the power to do the invisible.


There is an interesting contrast between the healing of this man versus the healing of the leper just a few verses earlier.


Mark 1:40-45

Mark 2:1-12

Healing of the leper.

Healing of the paralytic.

His disease made him unclean.

His disease made him helpless.

He came to Jesus.

His friends brough him to Jesus.

He voiced his faith.

His friends demonstrated their faith.

Jesus told him to go and show the priest.

Jesus told him to take up his pallet and walk.

The healed man disobeyed.

The healed man obeyed.





            And he got up and immediately picked up the pallet and went out in the sight of everyone, so that they were all amazed and were glorifying God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this.” (Mark 2:12).


Picture the scene.  The scribes have not said a word.  Nobody has spoken except Jesus.  And now He tells the man on the pallet to stand up.


Suddenly the man moves.  He rises from his cot on sturdy legs, picks up his cot, and makes his way from the crowded room.  The crowd opens up around him in amazement.  Outside, his four friends meet him.  He doesn’t even need their help in carrying his bed.  Where before there had been skepticism and unbelief, now there is a sense of amazement and awe.


There is a principle here.  It is that People will always laugh at what we say until they are amazed at what we do.  It will only be as they see evidence of the supernatural lived out in our lives that they will be touched.


What is there in your life that can only be explained in terms of the supernatural?  If you can’t think of anything, then go to the Lord and ask Him for a miracle in your life.


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