Chapter 6

When God is at work
Mark 2:1-12 (NIV)

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1 A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. 2 So many gathered that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them. 3 Some men came, bringing to him a paralytic, carried by four of them. 4 Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus and, after digging through it, lowered the mat the paralysed man was lying on. 5 When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” 6 Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, 7 “Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” 8 Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, “Why are you thinking these things? 9 Which is easier: to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’? 10 But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins….” He said to the paralytic, 11 “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” 12 He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!”

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Mark 2:1-2
Jesus

Jesus preaches God’s word to a large Capernaum crowd. God is at work! That produces surprise, blessing, praise, and some opposition.

Mark 2:3
The paralysed man

An unnamed paralysed man is brought to Jesus. We know nothing about him. He neither says nor does anything. He is a picture of our own inability and helplessness in our sins. We can neither say nor do anything to make ourselves acceptable to God. We cannot save ourselves. Only Jesus can do that.[1]

Mark 2:3-5
The four man team

Four men, also unnamed, carry the paralytic to Jesus. This illustrates prayer. A group can similarly bring an individual before Christ by praying together.[2] These four men first try to get their suffering friend to Jesus through the crowd. They cannot, so they use a less orthodox method! They make a hole in the roof above Jesus and lower the man down from there. They are so keen to see Jesus bless him that they think hard how to get their friend to Him. These men persevere until their needy friend comes face to face with Jesus. Christ sees and commends their faith. He meets the man’s need and answers their faith by a staggering twofold miracle!

Mark 2:5
The miracle

Jesus surprises the people. He first forgives the paralytic’s sin. His forgiveness is more important than his physical healing. Perhaps the paralysed man prays silently for forgiveness as He now realises who Jesus is? We don’t know.

Jesus then tells him to take up the mat he lies on and to go home. The forgiven, healed man amazes the watching crowd by responding to Jesus’ command. The people praise God for this miracle.

Mark 2:6-12
The opposition

All this sparks opposition from religious law teachers, the scribes. Although they do not express their hostility, Jesus reads them like an open book. Throughout history, many religious people have strongly opposed Jesus. These scribes refuse to accept that Jesus is God and so object that only God can forgive sins,[3] thus disqualifying Jesus, in their eyes. They see Him as a blasphemer.

Jesus is in control: by His words and His actions He demonstrates His divine right and power to forgive sins. Christ’s authority and God’s work within the man immediately change the paralysed man.

Jesus can and will forgive us also, if we come to Him. But expect opposition from some who may not understand. Live graciously for Christ in front of them.

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[1] . Ephesians 2:4-6.
[2] . Matthew 18:20.
[3] . For the wrong reason, after drawing the wrong conclusion that Jesus is blaspheming, they rightly ask the rhetorical question, in verse 7, Who can forgive sins but God alone? Jesus is God, and He can and does forgive sins! That is God’s prerogative.

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Questions on Chapter 6
Mark 2:1-12 When God is at work.

A. What can you learn from the example of the four men who bring the paralysed man to Jesus? Mark 2: 3-5

B. Why is forgiveness even more important than being made well physically? Romans 4:6-8 Psalm 86:5

C. How does opposition to Jesus from religious people show that being religious is not the same as being a Christian? Luke 18:9-14 Matthew 15:7-9 2 Corinthians 5:17