Which is Easier?

Mark 2

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.

-Susan Landry

Application Questions

  1. 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?
  2. 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?
  3. 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?

Bring Your Friends to Jesus

Mark 2 – Jesus Heals a Paralytic

In Mark 2, we find the story of Jesus healing a paralized man.  Jesus was becoming more well known, and more popular.  He was inside a house, and some men brought their friend to Jesus so Jesus could heal him.  But because such a big crowd had gathered, there wasn’t room to bring him to Jesus, not even outside the door.  So the friends took the man onto the roof, dug through the roof, and let him down in front of Jesus.

I have to admire these friends.  They were very concerned about their friend, and wanted to see him healed.  They believed Jesus could and would heal him, if they could just get him to Jesus.  They didn’t just “pray about it”, they stepped out on faith and did something about it.  They dug through the roof, and let their friend get close to Jesus – and Jesus rewarded their efforts.

Mark 2:5 tells us, “When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”  Jesus obviously saw that the man was crippled, but Jesus saw what wouldn’t have been nearly as obvious to us.  The man’s biggest problem was his sin – so Jesus healed him of that first.  This is the greatest miracle Jesus performed (and still performs).  

The teachers of the law said that Jesus was blaspheming, believing only God can forgive sin.  I’m guessing they were thinking, “it’s easy to tell someone their sins are forgiven, since you can’t prove they are really forgiven.”  Jesus then told them, “But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins…”  He said to the paralytic, “I tell you, get up, take up your mat, and go home.”  So the man got up, took his mat, and walked out.

I love this story, not only because I love reading about all Jesus’ miracles, but specifically because this is the only story I can think of where someone is healed because of the faith of his friends.  We’re not told, maybe the paralized man asked to be taken to Jesus.  But any way about it, Jesus saw the faith of the friends, forgave the man’s sins, and ultimately healed him.

This story puts me to shame.  I invite you to ask yourself some questions…

Am I this concerned about my friends?  

Am I willing to be uncomfortable – maybe even make a scene – to bring someone to Jesus?  

Am I willing to not just “pray for” someone, but actually “do something” for someone?  

Would Jesus see my faith and forgive and even heal someone I care deeply about?

Finally, do I need Jesus’ ultimate miracle for myself – to have him forgive me of my sins?  This miracle meets the greatest need.  It costs the most.  It brings the greatest blessing.  It has the longest lasting results.  And Jesus is still doing it daily.

–Steve Mattison

Today’s Bible passage can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – Mark 2

Tomorrow we read John 5 as we continue on our 2020 Bible reading plan.

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