And when he returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. And many were gathered together, so that there was no more room, not even at the door. And he was preaching the word to them. And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him, and when they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “My son, your sins are forgiven.” Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, “Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” And immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to them, “Why do you question these things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the paralytic— “I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.” And he rose and immediately picked up his bed and went out before them all, so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!”
Mark chapter 2 begins a new phase in Jesus’ ministry. Up to this point Jesus has yet to encounter any opposition from the Jews. But that will all change in chapter 2. One author described it this way: “Chapter 1 is the chapter of glory; chapter 2, of opposition.” This new focus on the opposition to Christ begins in 2:1-12 and runs all the way through chapter 3. In these conflict stories Jesus is the positive example and his opponents are the negative example. This means that we must positively respond to what we learn about Jesus, and we must negatively respond to how his opponents react to Him.
In Mark 2:1-12 the conflict that arises centers on the subject of forgiveness. FORGIVENESS is an important subject. Scripture makes it clear that all men have a responsibility to forgive those who have wronged them. However, because all sin is ultimately committed against God (Psalm 51:4), only God has the authority to forgive sins in an absolute sense. God is the only one who has the authority to dismiss one’s sins, and free him from the guilt of sin. The Jews in Jesus’ day would have been very familiar with this concept. The Old Testament is filled with references that make it clear that forgiveness belongs to the Lord: Isaiah 43:25; Exodus 36:6ff; Psalm 103:3; Daniel 9:9.
It is with this background in mind that we come to Mark 2:1-12. Here in this passage Jesus declares that He has the authority to forgive sins. This would have been a shocking claim to the Jews who were present at the time – particularly the religious leaders. They knew that the Old Testament taught that only God has the authority to forgive sins in this way, and here Jesus is claiming to have this same authority. As we will see, this claim was not well received by the religious leaders. However, Jesus not only claims to have the same authority as God he also publicly proved that authority.
So as we look at this passage main point that we must come away with is that Jesus has the authority to forgive sins. The only question is how will we respond to that authority?