Today’s Thought: Do you believe in the forgiveness of sin?
Once, when he was in one of the cities, there was a man covered with leprosy. When he saw Jesus, he bowed with his face to the ground and begged him, “Lord, if you choose, you can make me clean.” Then Jesus stretched out his hand, touched him, and said, “I do choose. Be made clean.” (Luke 5:12-13)
Jesus is slowly revealing both his identity and purpose as he travels throughout Galilee and Capernaum, teaching in the synagogues with authority, commanding unclean spirits to depart, and physically healing the sick. But, Jesus isn’t just a traveling healer or mystic; and—as Mark will show us in today’s narrative—he isn’t quite like the Old Testament prophets either.
Despite Jesus admonishing the people to remain silent about the miracles they witnessed and experienced, word spread. In no time, Jesus could hardly go anywhere without drawing a crowd—even at his own home. One day, there were so many gathered around that there was no longer room for them, not even in front of the door. Still, Jesus preached to them.
Then some people came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. And when they could not bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him; and after having dug through it, they let down the mat on which the paralytic lay. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” (Mark 2:3-5)
Hold up! Wait. What did Jesus just do? This paralyzed man’s friends believed in Jesus’s power so strongly, they dug through a roof (These are my kind of people!) and lowered him to Jesus so he could be physically healed. And Jesus—seeing their faith—declares the paralytic’s sins are forgiven? Why did he do that? Can he even do that? Apparently, the scribes don’t think so.
Here’s where Mark’s narration gets really compelling… He tells us that Jesus is able to perceive the internal accusations of the scribes, who believe Jesus has just committed blasphemy since God alone has the authority to forgive sins. Jesus says, “So that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the paralytic—“I say to you, stand up, take your mat and go to your home.” And he stood up, and immediately took the mat and went out before all of them.” (Mark 2:10-12)
Jesus refers to himself in the third-person as the Son of Man—a phrase not used by the people of this time, so they aren’t really sure what to make of it. [We still aren’t sure how to interpret it.] Regardless, Jesus says that title gives him the authority to not only physically heal, but also spiritually heal. Yes… the Son of Man is here to forgive sins.
And, he is able and willing to forgive the sins of someone who can do absolutely nothing to earn that forgiveness.
Old Testament: “I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.” (Daniel 7:13-14 ESV)
New Testament: When they heard these things, they became enraged and ground their teeth at Stephen. But filled with the Holy Spirit, he gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. “Look,” he said, “I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!” But they covered their ears, and with a loud shout all rushed together against him. (Acts 7:54-57 NRSV)