And when he returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. 2 And many were gathered together, so that there was no more room, not even at the door. And he was preaching the word to them. 3 And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. 4 And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him, and when they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay. 5 And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” 6 Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, 7 “Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” 8 And immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to them, “Why do you question these things in your hearts? 9 Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk’? 10 But 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, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.” 12 And he rose and immediately picked up his bed and went out before them all, so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!” Mark 2:1-12
The past couple weeks I have slowly been reading Mark’s Gospel. I have been reading it by pericope and looking at the same accounts in comparison to the other Gospels for further in site. This same account of Jesus healing the paralytic can be found also in Matthew 9:1-8 and Luke 5:17-26. It is interesting to see the comparisons between texts and the unity of Scripture as seen when looked at side by side. In this post I will share my personal devotion with you all. For the record I use the SOAP (Scripture, Observations, Applications, Prayer) format for my personal devotions. If you do not know how to structure your own personal devotions, this format is a good place to start and I invite you to use it and let God speak to you through His word.
Observations: It astonishes me how many people showed up to hear Jesus preach. They all gathered around His own house and there was no way to get to Him. There was a group of men who brought their paralyzed friend to Jesus. In Mark’s Gospel the men lowered the paralytic down through the roof after removing the roof. Getting their paralytic friend to Jesus had to be important to them and they definitely believed Jesus would be able to heal him. Jesus forgave the man’s sins first. The Pharisees called Jesus out on this by saying “Only God can forgive sins.” It is indeed easier to tell someone their sins are forgiven than to tell them to get up and grab their bed and walk. The people were amazed and praised God. I find it interesting that in Matthew’s account of this event he says such authority has been given to men.
“When the crowds saw it, they were afraid, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to men.” Matthew 9:8 ESV
Application: We all have a disease. It’s called sin. It is everything that we do that is not according to God’s plan for His creation. We are born with it, inherited with it from our parents and grandparents through the fall of Adam and Eve in Genesis 3. Because of this disease we are separated from God like lepers. Our sickness is a sign of our turning away from Him. And like a paralytic we are stuck where we are. Like the paralytic in this account we need the forgiveness that Christ offers and has won for us on the cross. The beauty of this is that we do not have to, by our own strength, go to Christ, but Christ comes to us. He comes to us through our Christian friends. He comes to us through our Christian families, if we were blessed to be raised by one. He comes to us in His word where what He has done to heal us from this disease is made known. He comes to us in our Baptism where He claims us as his. He comes to us in the Lord’s Supper to strengthen and preserve us for a life walk of faith in Him. In the Lord’s Supper He says our sins our forgiven, now I am sending you out to do my work. In our Baptism he says our sins are forgiven once and for all, now I am sending you out to do my work. In His word he says our sins are forgiven, now with what has been revealed to you go do my work. Through our brothers and sisters in Christ (which are our friends and family) he uses them to let us know that our sins are forgiven, and they encourage us remind us that we have God’s work to do. For the forgiveness of sins has been entrusted to us. We see that in Matthew 9:8, “Such authority [is given] to men” in completion with the Holy Spirit. We see it even clearer later in John 20:17-18:
“And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them: if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.” ESV
This is something that we get to do as a response to the grace (undeserved love) that has been given to us through Christ Jesus. The best part is we are still not the ones doing the hard work. We are a vessel for the Holy Spirit to carry on the work of God! And because the Holy Spirit lives inside of us, sharing the Gospel message, the forgiveness of sins, the proclamation that death and the devil are defeated, “where oh death is your sting” (1 Corinthians 15:55) it is natural. Praise be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Prayer: Lord, thank you for sending your Son to come to us to die on the cross to forgive all of our sins. Lord, you have called each of us to proclaim the Gospel and the forgiveness of sins. Lead us to share that with others by your Holy Spirit, so that all may come to know you and praise you. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.