Authority: When Paralysis Obeys Jesus

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 2:10–12, ESV)

Jesus is teaching in a house in Capernaum, when lo and behold four of the most persistent guys in or around the village show up with their paralyzed friend.  Unable to get close enough to Jesus due to the crowds, they come up with plan b. “I’ve got an idea, let’s just tear up the roof,” and that is exactly what they did.

Down comes the man on a pallet, from the roof of all places.  Mark doesn’t tell us whether or not this bothers Jesus who is in the act of preaching the word.  It certainly does not seem to.  Jesus, however, is not without his own surprise.  We expect him to say, “stand up and walk brother, you are healed!”  Instead what he says is, “your sins are forgiven.” I can imagine his four buddies standing on the roof asking each other, “what did he say?  Something about sins and forgiven?”

We don’t know all that is going on here.  Was the man paralyzed because of some sin?  Perhaps.  The context seems to imply both that the man needed his sins forgiven [as we all do] and that Jesus spoke specifically to make a point with the scribes whom he knew were in the audience.

Jesus claims for himself the authority to forgive sins, and this is the inconceivable thing here: paralysis obeys him!

Again and again in the gospels, Jesus claimed for himself authority:

  • he had authority over the unclean spirits (Mark 1.27)
  • he had authority to forgive sins
  • he had authority over all flesh to grant eternal life (John 17.2)
  • he had all authority in heaven and on earth (Matt 28.18)
  • he had authority to lay down his life and to take it up again (John 10.18)

It’s no wonder that paralysis had to obey him.  If he could grant eternal life and he had all authority in heaven and on earth, then of course! paralysis must obey him.

And it did.

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