Sunday, February 26, 2023


  Jesus & The Crowds

Mark 3:7-11

After the events in the synagogue in Capernaum, Jesus and his followers retreated to the less populated parts of the coast of the sea of Galilee. Apparently, Jesus was trying to create space to move around while the crowds following him grew. At home in the city, he would be trapped in the house and unable to move around or to address the whole group. The crowd was so large that Jesus had a boat prepared for him in case he needed to escape to the sea to avoid being crushed. (9) 

This group included people from many different places. It included Jews from Galilee, Judea, and Jerusalem. It also included people from Idumea, south of Judea, a mix of Jews and Gentiles. 

There were people from east of the Jordan, likely Jews and Gentiles from the Decapolis area. There were also Gentiles from north of Galilee, the region of Tyre and Sidon. Those cities were originally Phoenician, but had been conquered by the Romans. 

In Isaiah 49:6, God says his servant, the Messiah, would be a light for the nations (Gentiles) that his salvation might reach the whole world. 

The crowd had grown large and aggressive because thy had learned that Jesus could heal the sick. They pressed upon him, wanting to touch him and be healed. (10)

Jesus even had the disciples prepare a boat so he could avoid being crushed by the crowd. 

Jesus also encountered unclean spirits, or demons. When they saw him, they caused the people they possessed to fall down before him and acknowledge him as the Son of God. (11) They knew who he was and acknowledged his authority over them since they fell down before him. 

But they acknowledge it in the sense that they knew he could cast them out. They did not follow him or worship him. 

He strictly ordered them not to make him known, as he did not want to be witnessed to by demons. His ability to order them also shows his authority and superiority.

Appointing the Apostles


There were many who followed Jesus. Many were spectators. Some were disciples. We know that Joseph Barsabbas and Matthias were there, as they were candidates to replace Judas. (Acts 1:21-23)

There were women who followed him, inlacing Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joses, and Salome (15:40)

Jesus picked 12 men from the larger group of disciples and appointed them as apostles. An apostle is one who is sent off with a message. It is from the Greek “apostolos”. 

We see here that Simon\Peter is listed first as he emerged as the spokesman and leader of the apostles. James and John are listed next. Those three become the preeminent apostles. They are the ones who witness Jesus’ transfiguration. (Mark 9:1-13) They are the ones Jesus took into the Garden of Gethsemane to pray. (Mark 14:32-42) 

Judas, as you would expect, is listed last with the tag “who betrayed him”. (19) Robert Estienne, who was the first to divide the New Testament into standard numbered verses, in 1555, even makes the mention of Judas a separate verse, further isolating him from the other apostles. 

Jesus appointed them to preach and empowered them to cast out demons. (14-15)

Home Again


Jesus returned home, which was Capernaum. He could not escape the crowds. They filled the house so much that Jesus could not even eat.

Mark here inserts a disturbing note. Jesus’ family went to the house to seize Jesus. They evidently wanted to take him home and shut him up. They said he was out of his mind, that he was crazy. That had to hurt. 

It shows us that following Christ can create hostility among your friends and family members. This is what Jesus meant when he said he came not to bring peace but a sword. (Matthew 10:34)

The Scribes Attack


The Scribes went on the attack again. They came to town and saw Jesus cast out demons. They could not deny that he did. So, they accused him of being possessed by and casting out demons by the power of Satan. They called him “Beelzebul”. 

They seem to mean Satan by this term as they also call him the “prince of demons”. (22) Also, Jesus responds by using the name Satan. 

Jesus confronted the accusation by showing it to be illogical. Satan would not cast out his own soldiers because a house divided against itself cannot stand. 

Jesus also added information about his authority over the demons and over Satan himself. He said no one can enter a man’s house and plunder it unless he first binds the strong man. (3:27)

The implication is that Satan is the strong man and Jesus has bound him. Therefore he can plunder his house by casting out demons and claiming the delivered people for his own. 

Remember that the book of Job shows Satan as roaming the earth, but also able to enter the presence of God. (Job 1:6) He is subject to God, as shown by his need for permission to torment Job. (Job 1:12) But he has the ability to come into God’s presence. 

Revelation 12 shows us a picture of a war in heaven. Satan, portrayed as the dragon, was defeated. He and his followers were thrown down to earth. The heavenly voice explained that the kingdom of God and the authority of his Christ have come. 

Jesus, in his earthly ministry exercised authority over Satan’s demons and resisted Satan himself in the wilderness. Then, a further binding of Satan occurred at the death and resurrection of Jesus. 

Colossians 2:15 tells us that Jesus, by his death on the cross, disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame by triumphing over them. That is why, after his death and resurrection, Jesus could tell his disciples all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to him. (Matthew 28:18)

In that authority, the disciples could fulfill the commission from Jesus to make disciples of all nations. (Matthew 28:19) 

And in that authority, the church can continue to fulfill the commission as we spread the gospel all over the world. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2023



1 Peter 1:3-5


Peter starts this passage praising for God. The first three verses (verses 3-5) are a doxology, which means a word of praise. 

When Peter says “Blessed be..God”, it is a praise. It is not the same as when God blesses us by adding something to us, because we cannot add anything to God. He is self sufficient and perfect. 

But it is a way to say “praise God”. It is also a way of saying, may his name be blessed, or honored, on earth because of who he is and what he has done. That is probably why the NIV translates the word as “praise” rather than “blessed”. 

Peter praised God for our salvation. There are three things about our salvation that he praises God for. 

First, God gave us salvation according to his great mercy. (3)

Mercy means not getting what you deserve. It is the showing of forgiveness to those whom you have the right and power to punish. 

God has the right to punish us, because we all sinned against him and deserve death. (Romans 3:23; 6:23) 

God certainly has the power to punish. Revelation 20 shows us a graphic picture of God defeating Satan and casting him and all of God’s enemies into the lake of fire and sulfur.

But those of us who have put our faith in Jesus Christ are relieved from the consequences of our sin because, in his mercy, God sent his son Jesus who paid the penalty for our sins on the cross. In 1 Corinthians 15:3, Paul wrote “I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins…” 

Since our salvation is a matter of God’s mercy, it is not a matter of our work or righteousness. No one can work his or her way into heaven. 

As Paul wrote, “for by the works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight…” (Romans 3:20)

To his praise, God acted in mercy, not judgment, toward those who believe in his Son, Jesus. He caused us to be born again. It was his initiative. 

No one can take credit for being born. No one can take credit for being born again.  

Second, we believers are born again to a living hope. That hope is not that we will live our best life now, as Peter makes clear in verses 6 and 7. It is that we will live our best life in eternity. 

Hope, as the New Testament uses it, is not a wish. It is a firm belief in something to come in the future that is so great and so much better than this life that we can even endure suffering and hardship for Jesus.

Our hope is eternity with Jesus. We endure suffering now because know it is temporary and eternal life is forever. 

This hope comes to us through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. (3) As Jesus was raised from the dead, so will all who are in Christ. Because he was raised, we can believe we will be raised as he promised. 

1 Corinthians 15:22-23 says:

 “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ”.   

Our hope is a living hope because it comes to us through a living savior, Jesus Christ. He died for our sins, but was raised to life. As Jesus told the Apostle John in his revelation, “I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died and behold I am alive forevermore…” (Revelation 1:17-18) 

Jesus Christ is our living hope in the sense that he is eternal and gives us eternal life.

Third, this hope of eternal life is an inheritance. It is something we receive in the future because of our relationship to God. 

Just as you might inherit money from you parents because you are their son or daughter, you, as a believer, inherit eternal life because you have been born again and adopted into the Family of God. 

We are God’s children. We call him “Father”. And we are brothers and sisters of his Son, Jesus. Since we are children of God through and with Jesus, we are heirs of God and fellow heirs with Jesus. (Romans 8:15-17) 

Our inheritance is eternal life. We first inherit heaven. When we die, we go to heaven to be with the Lord. Then, when God makes all things new at the end of this age,  we inherit life in the new creation described in Revelation 21, all of which will belong to us.  

Peter tells us this inheritance is kept for us in heaven. (4) We do not keep it ourselves. That is why we cannot lose our salvation. If we could lose our salvation, we would.

But God keeps it. Peter says we are those who are guarded by God’s power through faith. (5) We place our faith in Jesus and he keeps our salvation for us. No one has the power to take it, or us, from him.

Not only can we not lose our salvation, it cannot be diminished in anyway. Peter uses three words to describe this. Our inheritance is 


undefiled; and 


These are not three different types of salvation, but three ways of saying the same thing. 

Created things all disintegrate. Have you ever gotten something out of the fridge to cook, but had to throw it away because it was molded or rotten? It was perishable. 

But God is not perishable. He is the immortal God (Romans 1:23) He does not die or decline. Therefore, he can keep our salvation imperishable.

It is also undefiled. When you defile something, you take something sacred or good and corrupt it with something bad or profane.  

In the Old Testament, a man who entered the sanctuary when he was ceremonially unclean defiled it. Jews would not enter the house of a Gentile because they believed it defiled them and they could not go to the temple or celebrate one of the feasts. 

Our inheritance is also unfaded. When I was young, each time you washed your clothes, they faded a little bit. Soon, they no longer looked new. You could recognize a poor person by their faded clothes. But our salvation does not fade.

No matter how long you live, your salvation and eternal life will be as beautiful and glorious as on the day you were saved. No matter how long this age lasts, the age to come will be as perfect and beautiful as it would be if this age ended today. And it is because the eternal, all powerful, God keeps it. 

Peter also pointed out that, although we were saved when we believed, the full measure of our salvation will be realized, or revealed, in the last time. (5) When Jesus returns and God makes all things new, we will see the full measure of what God has for us. 

Even our imaginations are not good enough to picture what God has for us. 1 Corinthians 2:9 says:

“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,

nor the heart of man imagined,

what God has prepared for those who love him”.

Conclusion: Rejoicing

This living hope, this inheritance, this eternal life, causes us to rejoice. (6) “Rejoice” means to feel and to express great joy or delight. Let that sink in and convict you for a moment. Your salvation should cause you to feel and express great delight. 

Rejoicing in salvation is important. On reason it is important is that it helps us endure suffering and disappointment. Peter said his readers rejoiced even though they were grieved by various trials. Those trials tested the genuineness of their faith. (7) 

It is easy to have faith when things are going well. It is more difficult when you suffer. When we suffer, we are tempted to question God for not relieving our suffering. When we are persecuted, we are tempted to deny our faith to stop the persecution. 

The test of true faith is enduring in faith until the end. When we persevere in faith despite trials, it shows that we have true faith. Our faith will even be strengthened, for we have seen God faithful to us and know we can be faithful to him. 

It will also bring praise and glory and honor when Jesus returns (the revelation of Jesus Christ in verse 7). It will bring him glory as those who have believed in him are gathered to him. And we will share that glory and reap the reward of a faithful life. 

Another reason we rejoice is that our trials are brief compared to our eternal inheritance. Peter said “now for a little while”. Believers look past trials in faithful anticipation of eternal life. 

Peter acknowledged that his situation was different than his readers’. Peter knew Jesus in the flesh. He knew him intimately as a follower and friend. He saw him transfigured in glory. He saw the resurrected Jesus.

But, Peter’s readers never saw Jesus in person. Peter marveled at their faith: they loved him and believed in him. (8). They rejoiced with this inexpressible, glorious joy. 

We are in the same situation. We have not seen Jesus, but we have heard of him through the witness of the apostles and those who preached to us, and through the Holy Spirit opening our hearts to him. 

So today I call you who believe to be filled with joy.

But for you who have not placed your faith in Christ, know that you cannot have this joy without Christ. I call you to believe in Jesus Christ and be saved. 



Lord of the Sabbath


This story recounts the first conflict between Jesus and the Pharisees over the Sabbath. 

Before going ahead with the story, let’s review what the Scripture says about the Sabbath. 

Genesis 2:2-3 says :

“And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done and he rested on the seventh day from all his work he had done. So, God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all this work that he had done in creation.” 

God did not rest because he was tired. Rather, he ceased his work of creation. So, God blessed the 7th day and made it holy. He set it aside for himself. The word “sabbath” is not used here, but any Jew reading it would make the connection. The word “sabbath” is from a Hebrew word meaning “to cease”. 

Next we come to God making a covenant with Israel. The basic terms of the covenant are that, if Israel obeyed God and kept the terms of the covenant, they would be his treasured possession among all peoples, a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation. (Exodus 19:5-6) 

Then, in Exodus 20, God began to tell Israel the commandments and rules they must obey to keep the covenant. They are summarized in the Ten Commandments. The fourth commandment is to remember the Sabbath day and to keep it holy. The Israelites could work for six days of the week, but could not work on the 7th, nor could they make anyone else work. God referred back to his creation and resting.

So, the idea was that God set apart the 7th day as holy and Israel must keep it holy. 

Then, in Exodus 31, God explains the Sabbath to Moses in greater detail. Keeping it holy means no one in Israel may work on the Sabbath and doing so is punishable by death. 

The Sabbath is also a sign of the covenant between God and Israel, showing that God has sanctified them, or set them apart from all other nations to be his. 

God gave signs to help his people remember his covenants. He gave the rainbow as a sign of his covenant with Noah that he would never again destroy the world with a universal flood. (Genesis 9:8-12) 

He gave circumcision as a sign of his covenant with Abraham that God would make him the father of a multitude and would bless all nations through him. (Genesis 17:11) 

In the same way, God gave the Sabbath as a sign of his covenant with Israel. They would have a day of rest from work. These people who were slaves, who worked every day of the year for someone else, now had a day when they would not work or make their own servants work. The whole nation took the day off from work.

This is a sign of the covenant, because no one else did it. Whenever anyone saw the Jews take the day off of their mostly agrarian duties, they knew they were different. As the Jews worshipped and reflected on God during the Sabbath, they also depended on him to provide for them while they rested from their labors. 

This sign was very important and God took it very seriously. He told Moses “above all you shall keep my Sabbaths”. (Exodus 31:12) 

But the Israelites did not obey. Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel all warned of the violation of the Sabbath. In Jeremiah 17:27, God said he would destroy Israel if they kept violating the Sabbath. He did so as 2 Chronicles 36:20 states.

The Pharisees, in particular, wanted to make sure that never happened again. So, they strictly observed the Sabbath. In their zeal, they added many rules, in addition to those in Scripture, to make sure they Sabbath was observed. They turned the Sabbath from a benefit to a burden. 

The issue in this passage is Jesus’ disciples plucking heads of grain as they walked through the fields. They would pull off the head of grain and rub it in their hands until only the seeds were left. Then they ate the seeds. We call the seeds kernels or berries. 

There was nothing wrong with plucking the grain. Gleaning was allowed by the Jewish law. (Leviticus 23:22; Deuteronomy 23:25) But the Pharisees believed it was unlawful to do it on the Sabbath because it was harvesting. Harvesting was work. So, they confronted Jesus about it. 

Jesus responded with a story and a theological statement. The story is a reference to Scripture, so Jesus is answering as a rabbi would. 

The story is from 1 Samuel 21. Even though David was anointed to be the next king of Israel, he had to flee from King Saul, who wanted to kill him. David and his men were hungry. They came to the Tabernacle and asked the priest for bread. 

The priest had no bread but what he called the Bread of the Presence (called the shew bread in the King James Version) that was required to be on the gold covered table in the Tabernacle. There were 12 loaves in two stacks. The bread could only be eaten by the priests according to the law. (Leviticus 24:5-9) 

But, the priest gave the bread to David at his request. And, David was Israel’s greatest king and the forerunner of the Messiah. (Jeremiah 23:5) So, there was a precedent for need to be more important than the rule. 

The point Jesus was making was that the Sabbath law was not meant to harm men or women. The Sabbath was made to be a benefit people, not burden them. All of the rules the Pharisees that exceeded the commands of God were a burden and not a benefit. They violated the spirit of the Sabbath. 

In addition, Jesus pointed out his divinity, as the Son of Man, saying he was the lord, or master of the Sabbath, and, therefore, entitled to say what the Sabbath did nor did not require. Jesus, not the Pharisees, had the authority over the Sabbath and its observance.  

Conflict #2


The second conflict between Jesus and the Pharisees about the Sabbath occurs in the synagogue. Jesus was observing the Sabbath by attending the synagogue. The Pharisees set up a conflict, bringing in a man with a withered hand to see if Jesus would heal on the Sabbath. 

The rule of the Pharisees was that you could only treat or heal a person on the Sabbath if the ailment or injury was life threatening. Otherwise, the person was to wait until after the Sabbath to be treated. 

Jesus did not retreat from the test. He told the man to come to him. Then, with the man standing there, asked the Pharisees if it was lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to kill. The Pharisees did not answer. 

Jesus knew it was right to do good on the Sabbath, whether lawful for the Pharisees or not. Ironically, the Pharisees did not believe that. Yet, the believed it was acceptable for them to plot evil against Jesus on the Sabbath. They thought it acceptable to kill and do harm to Jesus. (4) 

Jesus was both angry and grieved at the hardness of their hearts. (5) Their rules were more important to them than the suffering of the man. Ritual had replaced love and mercy. 

The stage was now set. They plotted to destroy Jesus. 

Sunday, February 12, 2023

A NEW THING - MARK 2:13-22


Jesus Calls Levi (Matthew)


Jesus left the town of Capernaum and went to the shores of the Sea of Galilee. People kept coming to see him, though, and he taught the crowds that gathered. He continued to preach. (13)

There was a tax booth there by the sea. Capernaum was close to the border with Decapolis at the time. It was also close to the border of the territory of Philip the Tetrarch. Vendors had to pay a tax to transport goods from one area to the next. 

Tax collectors were usually non-observant Jews, since observant Jews would not do business with Gentiles. Tax collectors were generally despised and hated because they were symbols of Roman domination and because they got rich at the expense of their countrymen. Jewish rabbis declared them unclean, expelling them from the synagogue. 

Despite all this, Jesus calls Levi to follow him and Levi leaves his booth and follows Jesus. Levi is the same person referred to as Matthew in Matthew’s gospel. Levi was his Hebrew name and Matthew his Greek name. 

To follow means a response of faith, identifying with Jesus and his mission. 

A song that conveys this thought is “I Have Decided To Follow Jesus” by Leslie Tucker. The third stanza says: 

“My cross I'll carry, till I see Jesus;

My cross I'll carry till I see Jesus,

My cross I'll carry till I see Jesus;

No turning back, No turning back.”

Calling Levi would have caused the Jews great consternation. Jesus already touched an unclean leper. Now he calls an unclean tax collector to be one of his disciples. The Jews considered Levi to be ceremonially unclean and morally corrupt, as well as a sort of traitor. He would be more troublesome since he was a tax collector by choice, whereas the leper did not have a choice.

It also created an interesting dynamic among the disciples. There were 4 fishermen and 1 tax collector. Levi would not be a natural fit. 

It gets worse, from the Jewish viewpoint. Not only did Jesus call Levi to be a disciple, he attended a dinner party at Levi’s house. Levi seems to have had the same joy at meeting Jesus that Zacchaeus, another tax collector, had. Levi invited many tax collectors and other sinners to a dinner party at his house. 

Sinners were people who lived outside the Jewish law. They might be criminals, but might also just be laborers and other common people who did not or could not live up to the standards of the Jewish law. Shepherds were included in this group, likely because they had to be out with the sheep and not in synagogue on the Sabbath. 

This dinner party was likely held in the courtyard in front of the house. People walking by could see the party, so they could see Jesus reclining at the table with these unclean sinners. Some of those watching were Pharisees and Scribes, those who studied the law and worked to observe it as well as all the rules imposed by the Pharisees. 

Knowing that Jesus taught the Scriptures and claimed to be the way to God, they were horrified to see Jesus violating their customs by eating with unclean people. The word “sinner” correlates to the word “wicked” in the Old Testament. Psalm 1 said the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked is blessed. 

When Jesus heard them ask why he was doing this, he answered that he came to call sinners, not the righteous. Jesus demonstrated his mission by eating with sinners. He stated his mission was to call sinners to salvation. 

Men and women did not have to be observant Jews to follow Jesus.

This is the same battle the Apostle  Paul fought later. 

Luke recorded Jesus saying he came to seek and to save the lost. (Luke 19:10) He made that statement as he dined with another group of tax collectors, including Zaccheaus. 

The Jewish approach to religion at the time was exclusion. Only Jews had the law and only observant Jews were favored by God. Jesus’ approach was inclusion. No longer was race or observance of the law the issue, only faith in Jesus for salvation. 

This needs to be the approach of the church also. We need to seek the lost and proclaim the gospel to them. It should not matter what race or economic status they are. We do not do a very good job at that on the local church level. 

The New Thing


 This group of stories, which ends in 3:6, show the conflict between the Pharisees and Jesus intensify. This story revolves around the practice of fasting. 

There were three movements going on at the time of Jesus. One was the ministry of Jesus. Another was the remnant attached to John the Baptist. The other, and the oldest, was the Pharisees. 

The Pharisees were only about one percent of the population. But they were respected for their devotion to the law. By the time of Jesus, their devotion to the law had evolved into the making of hundreds of extra rules for piety. These rules are sometimes referred to as the Tradition of the Elders. 

Some of these rules related to fasting. The Pharisees held that the three pillars of Judaism were prayer, almsgiving, and fasting. The law only required one day of fasting per year, the Day of Atonement. (Leviticus 16:29-30) Moses said they were to “afflict” themselves, which is interpreted to mean fasting. 

But the Pharisees added many fasts. They typically fasting on Mondays and Thursdays, as well as in times of crises, and for personal reasons. Although not required by the law, fasting became a symbol of religious commitment and piety. 

During one of these times, the Pharisees and the disciples of John are fasting. (18) So, some of the people who were watching Jesus asked why his disciples did not fast. There is an underlying accusation of lack of piety here.

Jesus answered them with three metaphors. He often responded with metaphors. 

The first  metaphor is a wedding feast. A Jewish wedding feast lasted for a week. It was a week of fun with lots of food and wine, music and dancing, and taking off from work. The guest of the bridegroom, who was hosting the party, would never be expected to fast during the feast.

Jesus identified himself as the bridegroom and his disciples as guests of the bridegroom. While he did not condemn fasting, he said it was not the appropriate time. His coming as the Messiah and savior is a time to celebrate, not suffer. 

Jesus then inserted a sad note. You have to wonder if the disciples got it. Jesus said when the bridegroom is taken away from them, the disciples will fast. (20) John the Baptist had already been taken away from his disciples. Jesus here foreshadows his being taken away from his disciples in his arrest and execution. 

Another point to note in this metaphor is Jesus’ identification of himself as the bridegroom. In the Old Testament, the husband of Israel is God. For example, Isaiah 54:5: “For your Maker is your husband, the LORD (Yahweh) is his name”. Jesus equated himself with God, just as he did when he claimed the authority to forgive sins. 

The second metaphor is about sewing. No one sews a new, unshrunk, piece of cloth an an old garment. If you do, when you wash it, the patch will shrink tear away and make the original tear bigger. (21) 

The third metaphor involves wineskins. Old wineskins would get stiff and brittle. If you put new wine in an old wineskin, the wine will expand with gas as it ferments and the skin will burst. New wine requires new wineskins. (22) 

Jesus is the new patch and the new wine. He is not an addition or appendage of Judaism. He is not integrated into the law or the synagogue. 

So, the call to the people here is to remove themselves from Jewish traditions and join the wedding celebration. It is to become new receptacles for receiving Jesus and his gospel. 

Sunday, February 05, 2023



Jesus Praying, Preaching & Exorcising


Evidently the next day, Jesus got up before dawn and went off by himself and prayed. Peter was thinking of everyone who wanted Jesus with them. He may also have been thinking of making him more famous. 

But, Jesus wanted communion with the Father before taking on the tasks of the day, specifically preaching. And Jesus affirmed that preaching the gospel was the Father’s will for him when he says “that is why I came out”. 

So, he continued traveling around in Galilee, preaching in the synagogues, and casting out demons. He was bringing in the kingdom of God. 

Healing Even Lepers


In this passage, Mark tells the story of a leper who came to Jesus. Lepers were people to be avoided in Jewish society. Lepers were ceremonially unclean. (Leviticus 13:45-46) Being unclean, they had to live outside out the cities and towns, living alone. They had to wear torn clothes and call out “unclean, unclean” if anyone came near him. 

For this man to come to Jesus was a bold move. It was also a move of faith, believing that Jesus would have compassion on him and that Jesus had the power to heal him. He had likely heard of other people being healed of various diseases by Jesus. He said “if you will, you can make me clean”.

And the man was correct in his beliefs. Jesus had pity on him and healed him. He even touched him, which no one else would have done. 

Jesus told the man not to say anything about this, but to obey the law and show himself to the priest and make an offering.

The man did not obey this part, however. He talked to everyone about it. It caused people to come from all over to see Jesus. It was so bad, Jesus had to avoid the towns for a while and stay out in the desolate places. 

The Authority of the Son of Man


I have heard many sermons on this passage. Many of them interpret it as a call to evangelism, bringing friends to Jesus. However, that is not the point of the story. This story continues in the line of Mark showing us the authority of Jesus. The words of Jesus also lead us to that conclusion.

Jesus was living in Capernaum at the time, having moved there from his hometown of Nazareth. Mark writes that Jesus was “at home”. He has returned there from his retreat to the desolate places, where he went to get away from the crowds that followed after he healed the leper. 

Many people gathered at the house. The house was completely filled. At the beginning of the story, Jesus was preaching the word to them. (2) As Jesus preached, four men came bearing a fifth man on some sort of bed. They wanted Jesus to heal this man who was paralyzed, but they could not get to him because of the crowd.

So, they went up on the roof, dug through the mud and thatch, and lowered the paralyzed guy, on his bed, down in from to Jesus. You do have to admire their determination, although their action is disrespectful to the homeowner and to those on whom the dirt and thatch fell.

We know the four guys had faith. Jesus saw their faith. (5) They had faith that Jesus could heal this man. They had likely seen Jesus heal or heard about him healing people.

Jesus responded in an extraordinary and unexpected way. Instead of healing the man, he said “Son, your sins are forgiven”. Addressing the man as “son” is the address of a superior acting with authority, but also benevolence or good will.

The relationship between sin and illness is an issue here. It was a belief among Jews at the time that serious illness was caused by sin. We see this in John 9:2, where the disciples ask if a man was born blind because of his sin or his parents’ sin. Jesus responded that the blindness was not caused by sin. 

Here, however, the man’s sins are an issue. Jesus is aware of the man’s sins. Jesus did not say “your sin”, meaning his spiritual condition, but “your sins” indicating particular sins. 

So, rather than say “you are healed”, he says “you sins are forgiven”. This caused the Scribes in the crowd to be troubled in their hearts. They thought this to be blasphemy because only God can forgive sins. (7) They were correct in their knowledge of the law. 

In Exodus 34:6, God identifies himself to Moses as the one who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin. Psalm 103:3 identifies God as the one who forgives iniquities. 

Since the Scribes believe Jesus is only a man, and was making a claim to be God by forgiving sins, he must be a blasphemer. Blasphemy was a serious charge - punishable by death under the Jewish law. (Leviticus 24:16) 

Jesus perceived their thoughts and asked them why they questioned these things. That seems to be a rhetorical question that he will answer with his next statement. He told the man to rise and go home, which he did, indicating he was healed.

But Jesus prefaced that statement by showing it would show the truth of who he is by saying “But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins…” 

The proof of Jesus’ invisible authority to forgive sins was demonstrated by his visible authority to heal. 

The response of the crowd is appropriate: they glorified God. 

We also glorify God because he has forgiven our sins through Jesus Christ.