This is part 2 of a multi-part series on the book of Mark.
Matthew 4:13 says Jesus left Nazareth and settled (or lived) in Capernaum in Galilee.
In this passage Jesus is at home in Capernaum (Mark 2:1), and people are coming to him from all villages in Galilee, Judea, and Jerusalem—almost 80 miles away (Luke 5:17)! Jesus is already a major gravitational force; people want to be near Him. His house is packed so full (Mark 2:2) that these friends of the paralytic cannot get him to the door.
Palestinian homes in the first century often had flat roofs with external staircases. Slabs of clay mud with sticks or branches baked in the sun were used as tiles. Jesus’ own house may have just been vandalized in addition to his sermon being completely interrupted, yet he stops what he is doing and takes this glorious opportunity from the Father to bring someone into the Kingdom.
Are we too distracted to see these types of occurrences as opportunities? Jesus says, “Your sins are forgiven.” Only the one who was sinned against can forgive a sin, so Jesus is telling the man that all of his sins were against Jesus—and yet He forgives the man anyway.
Which is easier? In one sense, it’s easier to claim to forgive sins, because Jesus follows up, “So that you may know the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins…”
I think it’s neither, and it’s both. Any miracle worker can say, “Take up your mat and walk,” but only a Savior can say, “Your sins are forgiven.” For Jesus, that part will be much harder to do. I think the shadow of the cross is showing here. What Jesus is going to have to do on the cross to complete the forgiveness of sins is much more difficult than healing Him.
Suffering for Sin
Paul recognized that what Jesus had done here and completed on the cross was more like the passing of a baton than finishing a race. He says in Colossians 1:24, “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church” (ESV).
Before closing, imagine Jesus had stopped short of healing the man and had simply declared forgiveness of sins. That is amazing enough—provided anyone would actually have believed it. Yet, Jesus himself understood that no one would have believed it, and he demonstrated his authority on earth to forgive by exercising his power to heal (2:10-12). Jesus’ Kingdom was not one of talk but of power (1 Corinthians 4:20), meaning all his claims were backed up.
When we waste our time in B4T trying to convince ourselves that preaching is more important than demonstrating, we make our message impotent. The Kingdom of God comes not in words alone but in the demonstrated power of those words. When we bring justice, mercy, and kindness in B4T, we demonstrate that the message of forgiveness we offer is not counterfeit but oh so real. Look at the reactions of the crowd from Matthew’s, Mark’s, and Luke’s perspectives. I doubt they would have reacted this way if Jesus hadn’t healed the man:
Matthew 9:8 – they glorified God who had given such authority to men
Mark 2:12 – “We never saw anything like this”
Like 5:26 – “We have seen extraordinary things today.”
Anyone can claim extraordinary things, but Jesus proved them. So must we, through his power (and maybe a little bit through B4T). But I’m not only speaking of healings and deliverances—I’m speaking also of restoring a broken world by the power of His Spirit through love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22). Rebuilding what has been broken by sin, both physically and within the human heart, is the demonstration of the power from His Kingdom.
Greg is the President of OPEN USA. He used his education to work as a tentmaker in the Middle East for 8.5 years seeking to plant a church amongst a least-reached people group. Currently back in the USA with his wife and children, they aim to return to finish what the LORD used them to start.
To learn more about B4T, read Business for Transformation by Patrick Lai.