“And again he entered into Capernaum, after some days; and it was noised that he was in the house. 2 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. 3 And they come unto him, bringing one sick of the palsy, which was borne of four. 4 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. 5 When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee. 6 But there were certain of the scribes sitting there, and reasoning in their hearts, 7 Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God only? 8 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? 9 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? 10 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,) 11 I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house. 12 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 2:1-12)
The popularity of Christ had grown to the point that the mere mention of His name attracted the multitudes. Returning to Capernaum from the desert, the Lord entered into the house, probably a return to the house of Simon Peter. Word spread rapidly. Before the sun had set there was a rush of individuals into His presence. Many of the people were sick. Some could not see. Others could not walk and had to be carried. But they came to Christ who “preached the word unto them.”
By preaching the Word of God, Jesus stressed the importance of this ministry. The Lord was not insensitive to the suffering sea of humanity stretched out before Him, but He knew that there is something more important than physical health. There is spiritual wholeness to find. By preaching the word initially, Jesus was reminding the people that the eternal takes precedence over the temporal. The most important question for time and eternity is not, “How are you feeling?” but “Is it well with your soul?”
There is a place for social politeness, and genuine concern about physical health. But there is also another pressing inquiry. The question is this. “If you were to die today, is it well with your soul?” “Will you spend eternity in the presence of the Lord, or will you be banished from heaven?”
If the truth were told, it is not well with many souls. Emotionally it is not well. There is stress and worry, which weighs heavily upon the heart. There are pressures at work, pressures at home, and pressures because of a poor self-image. The future appears dismal. There seems to be no way out of a present darkness. “No, pastor, it is not well with my soul.”
As there is emotional pain, so there is spiritual pain. Again, it can be said, “It is not well with the soul.” There are sensitive individuals who are concerned about the great matter of salvation, but they do not know what to do. They have heard of sin, and beyond that, they acknowledge they have transgressed the laws of God.
They have heard that it is appointed unto men once to die, and after that, the judgment. They realize that there is a just God and that there is a pay day, someday, for the things that have been said and done. Like the Philippian jailer, they are wondering, “What must I do to be saved?”
It is into this environment of haunting emotional pain and misery of mind that the gospel comes.
The gospel arrives in the form of the Word of God, to offer hope and encouragement. However, if the Word of God is to be received, it must be valued. To that end consider several truths about the Word of God.
First, the phrase, “word of the Lord”, refers to the spoken word of God, which has intrinsic power to create. “By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth” (Psalm 33:6).
Second, the phrase, “word of God”, can mean the written Word, the Bible. Concerning the Bible, the Psalmist wrote, “For the word of the Lord is right; and all his works are done in truth” (Psalm 33:4). The word of God is “right” (yashar), which means it is “straight” and “upright”. The Word of God, the Bible, is true, and can be trusted.
So much religious literature cannot be trusted. For example, no trust should ever be placed in the Koran, the Book of Mormons, or Science and Health. But the Bible can be trusted.
The Bible can be trusted, because the Word of God has power to prevent sin. “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee” (Psalm 119:11).
The Bible can be trusted because the Word of God can comfort. “This is my comfort in my affliction: for thy word hath quickened me” (Psalm 119:50).
The Bible can be trusted, because the Word of God is immutable. “Forever, O Lord, thy word is settled in heaven” (Psalm 119:89).
The Bible can be trusted, because the Word of God will guide. “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” (Psalm 119:105)
The Bible can be trusted, because the Word of God will bring life. “Uphold me according unto thy word, that I may live: and let me not be ashamed of my hope” (Psalm 119:116).
The Bible can be trusted, because The Word of God is pure. “Thy word is very pure: therefore thy servant loveth it” (Psalm 119:140).
The Bible can be trusted, because the Word of God is true. “Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth forever” (Psalm 119:160).
The Bible can be trusted, because the Word of God brings hope. “I wait for the Lord, my soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope” (Psalm 130:5).
In light of these things, is it any wonder that Jesus gave pre-eminence to the word? In the preaching of the word came the gospel. And what is the gospel? The gospel is the divine pronouncement of the forgiveness of sin.
The narrative continues as the story is told of a paralyzed man who was brought to Christ by four friends in a very unusual way. Finding a great crowd gathered at the home where the Lord was, the friends climbed onto the flat roof of the house. It was not hard for them to locate the approximate place in the house where Jesus stood, for the Lord was in a room immediately under the roof. He was in the upper chamber which was often the largest room (2 Kings 4:10; Acts 9:37).
Having found Christ, the five men were desperate to get to Him, and so, to accomplish that great objective, they broke down every barrier that was in their way. The men were willing to tear a hole in the roof of someone’s home to let the bed down upon which the paralyzed man lay. Apparently, it was not all that difficult to dig through the flat roof “by removing tiles and plaster, which were used in the construction of larger houses” (Contemporary Commentaries, The Gospel According to Mark, Richard Wolff).
There was now no way that Jesus could not see the man. He was forced to do something about the situation. And the Lord did. “When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee” (Mark 2:5).
Some in the audience reacted inwardly in astonishment. Never in the history of the Jewish nation had any Rabbi, or teacher, taken upon himself to pronounce the forgiveness of sins with unilateral authority.
There was immediate anger by certain scribes, who were members of the Sanhedrin. The religious leaders began to reason in their hearts, “Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God only?”
It was a valid question, based upon sound theology. Only God can forgive sins. So said the Law (Ex. 34:6,7) and the prophets (Isaiah 44:22), and that is the essence of the issue. Jesus was claiming to be very God of very God, and the world, both then and now, is left with three options. Either Christ is a liar, a lunatic, or He is the Lord God incarnate. There are no other alternatives.
If Jesus was a lunatic, then He was to be pitied.
If He was a liar, He needed to be stoned for blasphemy (Lev. 24:16).
If He is God, then Jesus needs to be honored and worshipped.
Knowing the thoughts of men, Jesus spoke and said, “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?” (Mark 2:8).
The answer is obvious. It is easier to say, “Thy sins be forgiven thee.” How would a person know if their sins were forgiven or not?
But if Jesus proved His divine power to heal, then His words proclaiming forgiveness of sins would have value. The Lord stated clearly what He wanted to accomplish. He wanted to demonstrate that, “the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins” (Mark 2:10). Therefore, in a majestic moment, Jesus looked directly at the sick of the palsy and spoke. “I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house.”
There were three commands of Christ.
First, the man was to arise. He was to immediately get up in front of the people, and he did. “Immediately he arose.”
Second, he was to take up his pallet. And the man did that. He “took up the bed.”
Third, he was to go into his own house without delay. And the man “went forth before them all.”
The reaction of the audience was predictable, for, “they were all amazed, and glorified God, saying, We never saw it on this fashion.”
In these words, we have the true character of a miracle: it is “the outward manifestation of the power of God, in order that we might believe in the things which are invisible” (F. W. Robertson). God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and in truth.
But how do we know that God exists?
The answer is Christ, and the miracles He manifested.