People from far and wide have now heard of Jesus. Many travel even to out-of-the-way places to hear him teach and to see his powerful works. However, after some days he returns to Capernaum, his center of activity. News of his return spreads quickly through this city alongside the Sea of Galilee. As a result, many come to the house where he is. Some are Pharisees and teachers of the Law who have come from all over Galilee and Judea, including Jerusalem.
‘So many gather that there is no more room, not even around the door, and he begins to speak the word to them.’ (Mark 2:2) The stage is now set for something truly remarkable. It is an event that can help us to appreciate that Jesus has the power to remove the cause of human suffering and restore health to all whom he chooses.
While Jesus is teaching in the crowded room, four men bring a paralyzed man on a stretcher. They want Jesus to heal their friend. Yet, because of the crowd, they cannot “bring him right to Jesus.” (Mark 2:4) Imagine how disappointing that is. They climb up onto the flat roof of the house and make an opening through the tiles. Then they lower the stretcher holding the paralyzed man down into the house.
Does Jesus get angry at the interruption? No, indeed! He is deeply impressed by their faith and says to the paralyzed man: “Your sins are forgiven.” (Matthew 9:2) But can Jesus actually forgive sins? The scribes and the Pharisees take issue with this, reasoning: “Why is this man talking this way? He is blaspheming. Who can forgive sins except one, God?”
Knowing their thoughts, Jesus says to them: “Why are you reasoning 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 stretcher and walk’?” (Mark 2:8, 9) Yes, based on the sacrifice that Jesus will in time offer, he can forgive the man’s sins.
Then, Jesus shows the crowd, including his critics, that he has authority to forgive sins on earth. He turns to the paralytic and gives the command: “I say to you, Get up, pick up your stretcher, and go to your home.” And the man immediately does that, walking out carrying his stretcher before the eyes of all those present. The people are amazed! They glorify God and exclaim: “We have never seen anything like this”!
It is worthy of note that Jesus mentions sins in connection with sickness and that forgiveness of sins can be linked to physical health. The Bible teaches that our first parent, Adam, sinned and that all of us have inherited the consequences of sin, namely, sickness and death. But under the rule of God’s Kingdom, Jesus will forgive the sins of all who love and serve God. Then sickness will be removed forever.
Does God forgive even serious sins? If we want to gain God’s approval, what must we do?