On the Lord’s return to Capernaum He began to preach the word and heal the sick that came to Him. The notable miracle in Mark 2:1-12 not only astounds the people but brings Him into conflict with the religious leaders.
The chosen city
“And again He entered into Capernaum after some days; and it was noised that He was in the house. And straightway many were gathered together, insomuch that there was no room to receive them, no, not so much as about the door: and He preached the word unto them” (Mark 2:1-2).
Jesus made Capernaum His base. No other Israeli city enjoyed the rich blessings of Christ’s presence than this one. He preached many a sermon and healed multitudes of people there, but there is no record that the inhabitants truly opened their hearts to the Lord. They wanted the miracles that He performed but dismissed the message He preached. They heard many wonderful things from His lips yet remained unconverted. We can clearly see why Capernaum drew one of the strongest words of condemnation from Jesus upon itself, “And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee” (Matthew 11:23-24). The chosen city had become a condemned city for its unbelief.
What was true of Capernaum is commonplace in our churches today. The Scriptures are taught from millions of pulpits, yet people remain unmoved and unconverted. Such unbelief can only draw God’s condemnation and wrath. Multitudes of so-called believers hear wonderful truths taught, but remain “dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1). What is the “savour of life” to one is the “savour of death” to another (2 Corinthians 2:16). Instead of truly following the Lord they defiantly and deliberately harden their hearts towards Him. The church, like Capernaum, is Jesus’ chosen place, “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20), but His presence has no affect on them.
The palsied passenger
“And they come unto Him, bringing one sick of the palsy, which was borne of four. And when they could not come nigh unto Him for the press, they uncovered the roof where He was: and when they had broken it up, they let down the bed wherein the sick of the palsy lay” (Mark 2:3-4).
The huge crowd hindered the friends who carried the crippled man to Jesus, but they found an unconventional way through! Onlookers watching the scene must have thought it was they who had a slate loose. They were able to lower him to the very feet of the Great Physician because true faith sees Christ beyond the obstacles. It was their faith which the Lord noted, “Jesus saw their faith” (Mark 2:5). Note: “Palsy” (Greek, paralytikos) refers to paralysis.
Faith and forgiveness
“When Jesus saw their faith, He said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee” (Mark 2:5).
There is much to learn from the persistent faith of the friends of the crippled man, for how many of us give up at the sight of the first test of faith! It was obvious to all that the man on the palette needed healing, yet Jesus spoke of forgiving his sins. Forgiveness is the greatest miracle and blessing any person can receive from the Lord. It is certain that the man praised God for his disability for years to come, for it was the very thing that brought him into the presence of Jesus. The Lord not only healed him but forgave his sins too.
We may face many afflictions in life but each one of them can bring us directly into God’s presence when we take our cares to Him, “Casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you” (1 Peter 5:7). Even our problems can be vehicles through which the Lord can teach us important truths, “It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes” (Psalm 119:71).
The peculiar prerogative
“But there were certain of the scribes sitting there, and reasoning in their hearts, Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies? who can forgive sins but God only? And immediately when Jesus perceived in His spirit that they so reasoned within themselves, He said unto them, Why reason ye these things in your hearts? Whether is it easier to say to the sick of the palsy, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and take up thy bed, and walk? But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (He saith to the sick of the palsy,) I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house. And immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went forth before them all; insomuch that they were all amazed, and glorified God, saying, We never saw it on this fashion” (Mark 2:6-12).
False religion and pseudo-Christianity has a hard time accepting that Jesus Christ actually forgives and saves sinners. Only God forgives sins, but if Jesus does so too, what does that make Him? The Scribes knew exactly what this all meant but hardened their hearts towards Him. If Jesus had blasphemed when He pronounced the man forgiven then the Father would not honour Him by giving Him the power to heal the man. No false reasoning or hardened heart was going to stop Jesus making the man whole.
No denomination or minister has the power to forgive sins, nor do the angels have this authority, therefore Jesus must be exactly who He claimed to be, “the Son of man” – The Messiah. “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5). He not only takes away sin but removes the guilt and condemnation too. He alone can give the sinner “peace with God” (Romans 5:1). He is the sinners only plea.
Blinded eyes and hardened hearts never see “it on this fashion”, for they seem not to understand what we are talking about when we tell them of Christ; or maybe they understand all too well but stubbornly refuse to turn to Him for salvation. Many in our churches, though they claim to be followers of Christ, only serve Him for exciting times, yet continuously turn a deaf ear to His word. What about us? Do we enjoy the wonderful presence of the Lord and hold back from wholly committing ourselves to Him?