Jesus, Forgiver of Sins
What a day it was in Capernaum. Jesus was preaching to a full house, literally. The place where He was teaching was so full that "there was no longer room to receive them, not even near the door." Imagine the scene as Jesus taught and people began to hear a noise coming from overhead and then pieces of the roof began to fall. In a few minutes a hole was made and through the hole in the ceiling a man on a bed was being let down. What a distraction! But this distraction became an opportunity when Jesus looked to the paralytic on the bed and said, "Son, your sins are forgiven you." The scribes and Pharisees present that day thought this was blasphemy, for, so they reasoned, only God could forgive sins. The amazing events continued as Jesus instructed the paralytic to get up on his feet and take his bed back home, so all might "know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins." When the man stood, picked up his bed and walked out, the crowd concluded with amazement, "We never saw anything like this!"
What a day that was, but what are we today to learn from this story recorded in Mark 2:1-12 and Luke 5:17-26? (The quotations are from Mark, though the narrative is a compilation from both sources). While there are other things that could be said, let's notice four lessons that can be easily seen in the events of that day.
Do Whatever It Takes
Much like the woman in Matthew 15:21-28 who sought healing for her daughter and would not be turned away, even when ignored and "insulted," the four men who were carrying the paralytic refused to allow any obstacles to stand in their way. It could not have been easy to carry the man to the housetop and risk the owner's wrath by making a hole in the roof, but they knew Jesus was this man's only hope. While the Bible stresses that salvation is by God's grace and is not earned (Ephesians 2:8, 9), we are also urged to realize that Jesus is our only hope and not to allow anything to come between us and Him. If family, friends, wealth or worldly pleasure would keep us from Jesus, we must realize that Jesus is the one with the blessing and "tear up the roof" if necessary. "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant, seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it" (Matthew 13:44-46).
Jesus Is the Son of God
Years later, John would record some of our Lord's miracles and refer to them as signs pointing to the truth that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God (John 20:30, 31). When Jesus told the paralytic His sins were forgiven, the scribes and Pharisees thought He blasphemed, but what could they say when Jesus commanded the man to take up his bed and walk and thus proved His right to forgive sins? Though some did not choose to believe that the miracles of Jesus proved His deity, do not forget that even His opponents never denied His power to work miracles. Though we walk by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7), our faith can be solidly based on the testimony of those who witnessed His great miracles.
The Power on Earth to Forgive Sins
Jesus explained that He was going to have the man take up his bed so "that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins." This amazing event demonstrated that the Lord, while on earth, could simply pronounce sins forgiven. When He turned to the thief on the cross and assured him of his forgiveness (Luke 23:39-43), He was doing that which He had every right to do. But can we today be saved in the same way as the thief? While Jesus is still the One with the power to forgive, since the Son of Man is no longer on earth forgiving sins directly, we today must heed His instructions given just before His return to heaven. "And He said to them, ‘He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned'" (Mark 16:16).
Forgiveness of Sins
We would marvel if we saw the things seen that day in Capernaum, but what would impress us the most? Surely we would be impressed by the faith of the four men who climbed on the roof, but the power of Jesus to make the lame walk would be more impressive and rightly so, but even that was not what was most important that day. When we stop to realize that the formerly lame man and all the others who were healed that day were still going to die one day, we begin to see what is most important in this story and it is not God's ability to take away our physical ailments. God may grant us many blessings, and none of them insignificant, but the most important blessing of all is the forgiveness of our sins and we should not rest until we have received that blessing by following His instructions. "The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:23).