A Greater Miracle than Healing: Mark 2:1-12

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Continuing moving forward in Mark’s gospel, we come to a miracle Mark includes that probably was the only one like it ever in Jesus’ ministry. One thing I find fascinating about this event is that it didn’t appear as though Jesus was actively healing people, and it is interesting who happens to be inside the home near Jesus when this event takes place.

Let’s continue reading and discover what happened. Our passage is found in Mark’s gospel, chapter 2, and we will read it from the Contemporary English Version. Starting in verse 1, Mark tells us that:

Jesus went back to Capernaum, and a few days later people heard that he was at home. Then so many of them came to the house that there wasn’t even standing room left in front of the door.

Jesus was still teaching when four people came up, carrying a crippled man on a mat. But because of the crowd, they could not get him to Jesus. So they made a hole in the roof above him and let the man down in front of everyone.

When Jesus saw how much faith they had, he said to the crippled man, “My friend, your sins are forgiven.”

Some of the teachers of the Law of Moses were sitting there. They started wondering, “Why would he say such a thing? He must think he is God! Only God can forgive sins.”

Right away, Jesus knew what they were thinking, and he said, “Why are you thinking such things? Is it easier for me to tell this crippled man that his sins are forgiven or to tell him to get up and pick up his mat and go on home? 10 I will show you that the Son of Man has the right to forgive sins here on earth.” So Jesus said to the man, 11 “Get up! Pick up your mat and go on home.”

12 The man got right up. He picked up his mat and went out while everyone watched in amazement. They praised God and said, “We have never seen anything like this!”

In this passage and event, we find something amazing. While those present watch in amazement as the crippled man gets up and walks out of the house, this detail did not stand out to me when reading this event this time. While this healing was amazing, a different detail in this passage stands out as being very significant.

Also significant in this passage is the faith and determination of this man’s friends. When the friends cannot get the man into the home using normal methods, they resort to something very abnormal, which ultimately was successful. But while this was amazing, it did not stand out to me when reading the passage this time.

In this passage, another detail I notice is that the crowd would not let the man’s friends carry him to Jesus. This is interesting, since the crowd would have probably liked to see Jesus perform a miracle, but they were too preoccupied with what Jesus was saying to realize the opportunity they were turning away. While this is also significant, this isn’t the big detail that stood out to me while reading this passage.

Instead, when reading this passage, I was amazed that those in the home next to Jesus were the religious leaders and teachers of the Law. While these religious teachers criticize Jesus claiming to have the power to forgive sins, the only reason they could have done this is if they were present, within earshot, and within conversational distance from Jesus. This means that some of the first people to come see Jesus when He had returned to Capernaum were the religious leaders living in this city.

While we stereotypically think the religious leaders were opposed to Jesus from the very beginning of His ministry, I think this stereotype is not entirely true. While some of the religious leaders simply disliked Jesus for His popularity because it stole from their own popularity, I believe that early on in Jesus’ ministry, everyone from the most religious and spiritual to the least religious and spiritual person took note of Jesus. With the Holy Spirit filling Jesus’ life, which happened at Jesus’ baptism, Jesus showed God’s love in powerful, miraculous ways.

Stepping back to one of the earlier details we skipped over, while the crowd did not let the crippled man’s friends enter the home with him, this was likely a God directed obstacle because it demonstrated to everyone present that these friends had so much faith in Jesus that they would stop at nothing to get their friend to Him.

I imagine the man’s friends stayed behind to fix the hole they made, but even if they didn’t, a hole in a home is less significant in God’s eyes than a healed person giving God thanks, praise, and glory, and a hole in a home is less significant than a person being forgiven of their sins.

In this event, I am amazed at the faith of the man’s friends. However, nowhere do we see any indication of the crippled man’s faith. Instead, all we see is Jesus proclaiming that the crippled man’s sins are forgiven. While Jesus might have said this because it tied into what He was already speaking about, or because He knew that it would get the religious leaders’ attention, I wonder if Jesus actually said this to the crippled man because that is what this man needed to hear.

Nothing in this event indicates the crippled man had faith in Jesus. Instead, I wonder if the crippled man believed God’s punishment was on him and that his disability was a punishment from God because of something that he had done, because of a sin he had committed, or because of something that had happened. While being healed is nice, I wonder if the real miracle in this event was the proof that this man’s sins were forgiven, and the healing solidified this truth in this man’s mind.

In this healing, Jesus not only healed this man’s disability, He also gave peace to this man’s soul that God was not angry with him, God was not mad at him, and God was not judging him. While sometimes we have to face the consequences of our own actions and our own sins, God is not mad at us or eagerly waiting to judge and condemn us. Instead, God loves us so much that He let Jesus come and take the punishment we deserved for our sins so that we can have a restored relationship with Him!

As we come to the end of another podcast episode, here are the challenges I will leave you with:

As I always challenge you to do, intentionally seek God first in your life and understand that when we come to God asking for forgiveness, God has already forgiven us. While we might have to live with the natural consequences of our actions, God isn’t interested in punishing us more than our actions require. Instead, God is more interested in saving us for eternity, and bringing us home to a recreated world without sin, pain, or death.

Also, continue praying and studying the Bible for yourself to learn and grow closer to God each and every day. Don’t take my word or any pastor, speaker, author, or podcaster’s word for what the Bible teaches. Instead, study the Bible for yourself to grow your personal relationship with God and to discover God’s truth for yourself.

And as I end every set of challenges by saying in one way or another, never stop short of, back away from, chicken out of, or choose to ignore where God wants to lead you to in your life with Him!

Year in Mark – Episode 4: When a crippled man is brought to Jesus, discover some amazing truths about this miracle that we might easily overlook or miss if we aren’t paying attention.

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