The Gateway Church

in and around Kings Lynn, West Norfolk

Amazed by Jesus #3

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What’s the most amazing thing you have ever seen? That friend finally offering to pay for a round?! A shooting star? The birth of a child? The crowd in one Capernaum house (Mark 2:1-12) saw a roof get trashed, Jesus heal a paralysed man and wind up the scribes.
Capernaum, a fishing village some of the disciples lived in, had become Jesus’ hometown. So when Jesus returns from a short teaching tour back to Capernaum, news spreads fast that He is back home. A crowd gathers to the house he was at, pressing in until there was no more room. Jesus begins to teach. Four men were desperate to get their paralysed friend to Jesus to be healed. Unable to barge through the crowd, they climb up onto the roof of the single storey house and begin to break through the roof. Once they have made a big enough hole, they lower their friend through down to Jesus.
That takes some faith. Jesus loves faith – a trust in Him alone. They showed that they believed in Jesus at least as a healer, by being willing to break through a roof to get to Him.
There was also a cost to bring their friend to Jesus – pride, time and effort. And there was a willingness to break through any obstacles too. In obeying Jesus’ command to go and make disciples are we willing to pay the cost and break down obstacles too?
Jesus then says, “Son, your sins are forgiven!” It was a typically Jewish way of making a pronouncement about God without mentioning the name of God. But it was startling, because it was something only God could do. Jesus had the choice in what He said – to forgive the man’s sins or to just heal him. To do something that had eternal consequences but not immediately visible, or to do something with the wow factor – heal a paralysed man so he gets up and walks out. Jesus did the more important, eternal thing – He forgave the man. As a side note – street teams often focus on healing and forget to share the gospel afterwards! People need both and actually long term, they need the gospel far more!
Sickness is part of the fall, and healing is a gracious breaking in of God’s power on the the sphere of withering and decay which are the tokens of death and the fall at work in our lives. It was not God’s intention that we should live with the pressure of death upon us. Sickness, disease and death are all consequences of the sinful condition we live in. So every healing is a driving back of death and an invasion of the realm of sin. That is why it is appropriate for Jesus to proclaim forgiveness of sins. There doesn’t have to be a direct link between a sin and a sickness – there is no suggestion in the narrative that the paralytic’s physical suffering was related to a specific sin or was due to hysteria induced by guilt.
The Greek word for forgiven is laden with meaning. It means to leave or let go, to give up a debt – to send or drive away. The mans sins are dismissed and he is freed from guilt. When we say we forgive someone, we are renewing a relationship, but we cannot forgive all sins. Only God has the authority to do that.
Marks’ account of Jesus’ life shows an increasing battle between Jesus and the religious leaders of the time – the scribes. Forgiving the man’s sins was tantamount to blasphemy – because only God can do that. Jesus is clearly telling them that He has the authority – he is God. And to prove it, He also did the immediately observable thing – healed the man.
The Scribes weren’t amazed but the crowd was! They had never seen anything like it.What were they amazed by? The healing? The showdown with the religious leaders, the forgiveness of sin or the roof getting trashed?It takes a while for the penny to drop! But being amazed by Jesus was firstly his teaching (Mk 1:22), his authority of evil spirits (Mark 1:27) and now his authority to forgive sins, something God alone can do!