“Jesus Forgives Our Sins”

(Mark 2:1-12 – October 17, 2021)

Mark 2:1-12 – 1And again He entered Capernaum after some days, and it was heard that He was in the house. 2Immediately many gathered together, so that there was no longer room to receive them, not even near the door. And He preached the word to them. 3Then they came to Him, bringing a paralytic who was carried by four men. 4And when they could not come near Him because of the crowd, they uncovered the roof where He was. So when they had broken through, they let down the bed on which the paralytic was lying. 5When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven you.” 6And some of the scribes were sitting there and reasoning in their hearts, 7“Why does this Man speak blasphemies like this? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” 8But immediately, when Jesus perceived in His spirit that they reasoned thus within themselves, He said to them, “Why do you reason about these things in your hearts? 9Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise, take up your bed and walk’? 10But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins” – He said to the paralytic, 11“I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.” 12Immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went out in the presence of them all, so that all were amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!”

Dear Redeemed in Christ Jesus:

Imagine standing in that crowded house. As Jesus preaches God’s Good News of salvation for sinners, suddenly scraping sounds begin. Dust starts sprinkling down from the ceiling. Jesus looks up. The faces of four men appear as they remove a section of the roof. Digging through the roof was easier than digging through the thick crowd. Determined to get their paralyzed friend to Jesus for healing, they lower the mat he is on and entrust him to Jesus’ care.

What they did in the middle of Jesus’ sermon may have offended some. But their faith and perseverance pleased the great Physician. He healed the paralyzed man, not just in body but also in soul. Jesus knew that his real distress was deeper than bodily sickness. There was distress in his soul over sin. That is why Jesus’ first words to him were: “Son, your sins are forgiven you” (vs. 5).

That was the comfort Jesus gave the paralytic, and it is also the comfort He give us today. He wants us all to be glad in heart knowing that “Jesus Forgives Our Sins.” Let us consider: 1) What this means, 2) How this is possible, and 3) What change this brings.

1) What this means

Perhaps we are so familiar with the statement, “Jesus forgives our sins,” that we can overlook its meaning. Let us consider what it really means that Jesus forgives our sins.

The first thing we need to realize is that sin is a horrible thing. Many treat sin lightly. They practice sin as if it meant nothing. Indeed, many seek happiness in sinful indulgences. But the truth is that sin makes people foolish and miserable, though they think they are wise and happy.

What is the true nature of sin? It is violation of God’s Law; it is rebellion against our Creator’s perfect way. To sin is to put oneself in direct opposition to God and who He is. God is the source of all light, life, love, and joy. Sin is the source of all darkness, death, hatred, and misery. To sin is to go away from God and His goodness into one’s own destructive path.

Man was originally created in God’s perfect image, created to live with God in holiness – thus sharing the eternal light, life, love, and joy in which God dwells. But then, seduced by Satan, man chose the path of rebellion. Thinking he was becoming like God, free of all authority, the sinner made himself a fool of Satan and an enemy of God.

Satan delights to see his work begun on earth through lies and sin taking its toll. He laughs at all the wrong, cruelty, and inhumanity that springs from sin in people’s hearts. He loves to see all the aches and pains, sorrow and suffering, disease and death that sin brings. He only wishes for much more misery upon the crown of God’s creation before the end comes.

But the horrors of sin do not end with this life. God made man for eternal holiness and happiness with Him. But sinners chose unholiness, which brings the opposite of happiness with God. Sin separates the sinner from the source of life, resulting in eternal death. Jesus said of those lost in sin at the Last Judgment: These will go away into everlasting punishment” (Matthew 25:46). This is Satan’s ultimate desire, to bring sinners down with himself.

Now we are ready to see what it really means that Jesus forgives our sins. It means that He delivers us from this horrible thing and its consequences. The great Physician sees that sin is the source of all disease, misfortune, and death. He sees that sin leaves us spiritually paralyzed, unable to please God by our works, unable to lift a finger to save ourselves from hell. In love, our great Physician came to heal us by forgiving our sin and stopping its horrible consequences.

Think of how fully Jesus heals us. When He told the paralytic, “Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house” (vs. 11), the man was healed completely in his body. Likewise as Jesus says to us, “Your sins are forgiven you” (vs. 5), we are healed completely in our soul. When you forgive someone a debt, you do not later go and try to collect the money from him. He no longer owes you a thing. This is how it is with forgiven sin. Jesus pardons us, and God treats us like we never sinned. Our debt is 100% canceled. We are free from the death and damnation that are the wages of sin. We are restored to full communion with God – to dwell with Him in His eternal light, life, love, and joy.

2) How this is possible

Does it seem too good to be true? Let us now ask how this is possible.

First of all, Jesus can forgive our sins and free us from their consequences since He is God. When Jesus told the paralytic, Your sins are forgiven you” (vs. 5), the religious teachers understood the authority He was claiming. That is why they reasoned in their hearts: “Why does this Man speak blasphemies like this? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” (vs. 7). Truly, no mere man has the authority to forgive sin and remove the punishment God puts on sinners. But Jesus is not just man; He God in the flesh (John 1:1-14).

Now Jesus proved His authority. Reading their hearts, He asked: ” ‘Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, “Your sins are forgiven you,” or to say, “Arise, take up your bed and walk”? But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins’ – He said to the paralytic, ‘I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.’ Immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went out in the presence of them all” (vs. 9-12).

When a person says, “Your sins are forgiven,” there is no visible proof to see if forgiveness takes place. You must take him at his word. The paralyzed man believed Jesus’ words. He knew God’s Son has authority to forgive sins. He was healed in his soul by faith receiving that forgiveness. Now, Jesus also gives visible proof of His authority. Only God has power to heal a paralyzed man by His Word.  Only God has power to heal the sinner by His Word. Jesus does both!

As God, Jesus is with us today. By His power and authority, He richly and daily forgives our sins and heals our souls. But now we may ask, “How is this possible since God’s justice always requires punishment of sin? As God, how can Jesus be both just and forgiving?”

It is because, as God, He is also gracious. We have nothing in ourselves to bring Jesus that makes us worthy of His healing. Like the paralytic, all we have to bring is our sin and condemnation. But what we could never accomplish by our strength, God has accomplished to save us sinners.

As our gracious God, Jesus came in the flesh to make satisfaction for our sins. God’s justice demands that His Law must be fulfilled or death must come to the sinner. But sin paralyzed us in this regard so that we could not fulfill His Law. God saw our predicament, and in mercy He sent His Son to take our place under justice. Jesus suffered the punishment for our breaking God’s Law. By His death on the cross, “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us” (Galatians 3:13). As the perfect Son of Man, He also fulfilled God’s Law for us, so that God is now counting Jesus’ perfect life to us for righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Therefore, whoever believes in Jesus as his or her Savior is healed and saved completely. So in our text, “When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven you'” (vs. 5). And the greatest healing and salvation had already come to him through faith in Jesus.

The Savior still ministers to us and brings us healing. By His powerful Word of absolution, He pardons us. By the power of His Word in Baptism, He cleanses us of all sin (Acts 22:16). In His Holy Supper, His Body and Blood given and shed on the cross forgive all our sins (Matthew 26:26-28). All who believe and receive His gracious gift have His true healing unto eternal life.

3) What change this brings

Now consider what change this brings us. First, it gives relief to our souls. No more do we carry the horrible burden of our sin and its condemnation. Jesus has done that for us. He says in Matthew 11:28: Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Jesus does not load on us new burdens of Law, impossible hoops we must jump through to get right with Him. He invites us simply to rest in the forgiveness and salvation He has accomplished for us.

When the paralyzed man did as Jesus said, taking up his bed and walking home, it says: All were amazed and glorified God, saying, ‘We never saw anything like this!'” (vs. 12). So also, with our soul’s healing comes rejoicing and praising God for His great gift. With Jesus’ forgiveness, He has enabled us to arise and worship Him as our Savior.

And He has enabled us to walk in newness of life, to serve Him in joy. In Jesus’ healing, He has restored us to God’s image and design for us. As Colossians 3:9-10 says: You have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him.” Now that Jesus has released us from bondage to sin and Satan and made us free children of God, we delight to do His will. And we say with Galatians 2:20: The life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”

And through Jesus’ forgiveness, best of all, we are restored to eternal life. We will live forever with God in perfect health of body and soul, in His heavenly light, life, love, and joy!

Dear redeemed, restored, and forgiven children of God in Christ. Just as He did in that house long ago, Jesus stands among us preaching His Good News of salvation. We need not wait for someone to be lowered through the ceiling to see a miraculous healing today. Jesus is saying to each of us: “Your sins are forgiven you.” With the paralytic, let us take Him at His Word and receive His healing. Let us rise to walk anew in the peace of His forgiveness and in the joy of His salvation and eternal life!

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be. Amen.