Sunday, July 24, 2022
Go ahead and read the full chapter, but here’s the first 12 verses we will be discussing today.
A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. They gathered in such large numbers that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them. Some men came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”
Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, “Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?”
Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, “Why are you thinking these things? Which is easier: to say to this paralyzed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’? But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the man, “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 2:1-12)
”Which is easier: to say to this paralyzed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’?” (Mark 2:9)
That question has always kind of thrown me for a loop because, if I’m being totally honest, my answer would be different from the one Jesus seems to be implying is correct.
Forgiveness is invisible. Anyone could say ‘Your sins are forgiven’ and we’d never know for sure. But healing someone, telling a paralytic to ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’… well, we would see pretty quickly if that took or not.
I once read that “forgiveness becomes real to you as you believe it, not as you see it.” I think what that means in this context is that the lame man couldn’t see Jesus’ forgiveness. He had to choose whether to believe it was true or not, whether Jesus was trustworthy or not. That’s very different from believing that Jesus had healed him…after he was up walking around.
And now I can see why the former would be so much more difficult. It’s harder to trust what we can’t yet see.
Kind of reminds me of the ‘we walk by faith not by sight’ (2 Cor. 5:7) and ‘faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see’ (Heb. 11:1) verses. God does not provide us with ‘grace-received’ certificates to prove our forgiveness, our salvation. We either believe it or we don’t. We either experience the joy, peace and burden-lifting that grace brings… or we don’t.
Jesus, help us to trust today that you know what’s best for us even when we can’t see it. We want to experience the lifting of burdens in our lives, and to feel the peace and joy that eludes us when we believe what we see instead of what you tell us is true. We want to drop the things that paralyze us and have the faith to get up and walk.
- Have you accepted Jesus’ forgiveness? How forgiven do you feel? Jesus has already done the hard part. What can you do to accept it, believe it and feel it more and more?
- What things, thoughts, attitudes paralyze your faith. Will you drop them? How? What will that look like? What will it look like to get up and walk in faith? Where might your faith lead you?
- From verses 13-17, are you more often like Levi or the teachers? What do you admire about Levi? What can you do this week that would be Levi-like?