Christ’s Authority Over Sin (Mark 2:1-12)

Christ’s Authority Over Sin (Mark 2:1-12)


Mark 2:1-13

We have come to a wonderful portion of Scripture! The truths found in this text not only pertain to the non-believer, but the believer as well. It gets down to the root of Who Jesus Christ is. Is He God, or is He merely a man used by Him? How far does Jesus’ authority truly stretch?

The first thing we must acknowledge about this text is that it is not about the paralytic, but about the Person of Jesus Christ! This text is not even here to demonstrate Christ’s healing authority, though it does occur. Mark has already demonstrated Jesus’ healing authority.[1] The paralytic is the avenue through which Christ is to be glorified for Who He truly is.

May I just say we too are to be that avenue! Our lives are to point to the Person and work of Jesus Christ alone, and not to ourselves. This occurs when we submit to His authority, being governed by His eternal, inerrant, infallible and sufficient living Word alone.

Let us briefly discuss how to handle the Word we are to live by, for this text provides a great example. There are two ways people interpret the Scripture:

1.) Exegesis: When a person draws truths from the text to expound upon them.

2.) Eisegesis: When a person inserts their thoughts into the text to expound upon.

Within our culture I believe we should add a third:

3.) Narcigesis: When a person inserts themselves into every facet of the Word.

Exegesis is clearly the method to be adhered to.

I firmly believe if the paralytic were to read this text he would neither eisegete his opinion nor narcigete himself into the portion. He would draw out Christ alone!

Why do I believe this? The Scripture reads, “And at once he rose up before them, and took up what he had been lying on, and went home, glorifying God.[2]

Keep in mind he is going to walk away glorifying God for much more than being physically healed. The same should take place this morning when we properly exegete the Word of God.

This text is critical for all of humanity to understand, because it speaks on sin. The Scripture teaches:

“All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”[3]

It further teaches we are not only sinners by choice, but by nature as wells.

Ÿ Meaning our very nature demands God’s wrath upon us. Consider the following Scripture:

“Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned.”[4]

“…We too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath…”[5]

“Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually…for the intent of man’s heart is evil from his youth.”[6]

Why is humanity born inherently evil? We are made in the likeness of Adam.

Since we are in Adam we are depraved beings tragically altered by sin and deserve death alone. Look at the results of our depravity:

“As it is written, ‘There is none righteous, not even one; there is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God; all have turned aside, together they have become useless; there is none who does good, there is not even one.”[7]

This is why as humans we must understand the focal point of this passage is not Christ’s healing authority, but His authority to forgive sin. Jesus’ authority to forgive sin will be demonstrated through His authority to heal. The text will clearly answer the question:

Does Jesus have the authority to forgive humanities sin, and how is He able to?

We must also understand Christ’s authority over sin here does not only impact justification; the judicial act where God declares a wicked sinner righteous on the basis of Christ’s merit. Meaning the gospel message does not only concern itself with reconciling mankind to God. It then takes the reconciled individual, and for a life time, purges the old creature within them to bring about the new creature in Christ. Look at the Scripture:

“For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus…work out your salvation with fear and trembling for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”[8]

Do you see Christ doing this work in your life? Where you now love the very things you once hated (Christ’s righteousness) and hate the very things you once loved (Sin).[9]

Believers are to continually look to the gospel message for:

1.) It is the only message through which mankind can be justified before God.

2.) It is the only message through which believers are sanctified before God.

3.) It is the only message through which sanctified believers will one day be glorified before Him.

The authority of Christ in this area of sin is therefore critical to everyone here.

Does Jesus have authority in this area?

This text is important, because if Christ does not have the ability to forgive sin, neither does He have the capability of performing a work in your life, which ultimately leads to your glorification. Let us begin to delve into the text:

Mark 2:1-4

“And when He had come back to Capernaum several days afterward…”

Mark has explained that Jesus needed to leave because crowds were so great He could no longer publicly enter a city. He was teaching with authority, casting out demons with authority and healing with authority so everyone was coming out to see.

“…it was heard that He was at home.”

Some have suggested this was Peter’s house since Jesus was previously there performing miracles.[10] Others believe this was Christ’s personal home.[11] What we should settle on is Capernaum was Jesus’ headquarter city at the start of His earthly ministry.

So He has now returned after several days:

“And many were gathered together, so that there was no longer room, even near the door; and He was speaking the word to them.”

Notice Jesus is being consistent with the purpose He laid out the first time He left Capernaum.[12]

So He returns to fulfill His purpose of preaching the Word, but what do many in the crowds want? Healing and exorcisms. They have serious observable needs that only Christ is capable of meeting.

“And they came, bringing to Him a paralytic, carried by four men.”

Realize they did not do so delicately or without disturbance in anyway. Luke records they tried to find another way to Christ, but there was only one way.[13]

“And being unable to get to Him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above Him, and when they had dug an opening, they let down the pallet on which the paralytic was lying.”

Luke also records these four men were so calculated they placed him directly in front of Jesus. One can imagine the anticipation among the crowd as they saw this whole event unfolding.

What did they expect to see immediately? Jesus restoring the paralytic.

What do they see immediately? Nothing!

Jesus does not meet the observable need. In fact, the next four verses take place primarily in the unseen realm of the heart and mind:

1.) The paralytic’s

2.) The scribes

Mark 2:5-8

Christ demonstrates His omniscience here. The crowd expects to see something, but they only hear something from Christ.

“And Jesus seeing their faith said to the paralytic, ‘My son, your sins are forgiven.’”

Now the faith of the four friends in Christ’s ability to heal is evident to everyone because of their works. Notice, though, Jesus does not speak about their sins being forgiven, but only the paralytics.

Were the sins of the paralytic forgiven because his friends had faith in Christ’s ability to heal? No! If that were the case would the text not read, “My sons (plural), your sins are forgiven?”

Scripture is quite clear that forgiveness of sins only occurs when an individual repents and believes the message of the gospel of Christ. Christ’s statement then shows us the paralytic was there for far more than physical healing. Jesus knows the paralytic’s repentant and believing heart.

Why come to such a conclusion?

Read on:

“But there were some of the scribes sitting there and reasoning in their hearts, ‘Why does this man speak that way? He is blashpeming; who can forgive sins but God alone?’

Keep in mind none of that was audible, but took place within a plurality of men at once.

“And immediately Jesus, aware in His spirit that they were reasoning that way within themselves, said to them, ‘Why are you reasoning about these things in your hearts?’”

Prior to this, Jesus publicly revealed the paralytic’s heart, and He now confirms His omniscience by revealing the heart of the scribes. By the way the scribes were well versed in Scripture and knew that only God knows the heart.[14] They also knew that only God can forgive sin.

“Why does this man speak that way? He is blashpeming; who can forgive sins but God alone?”

The scribes are correct in thinking this. This means that Jesus is either a blaspheming man who should not be followed, or He is in fact God. Again, the scribes question was not audible. The pressing crowd does not even know a question was thought. All that has been said since the paralytics entrance is, “My son, your sins are forgiven.” If we were the crowd in that house this is all we would have heard after the paralytic’s arrival:

“My son, your sins are forgiven (Makes a claim pertaining to the unseen)… (Immediately looks at the scribes) Why are you reasoning about these things in your hearts (Makes another claim to the unseen)? Which is easier to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven’; or to say ‘Arise, and take up your pallet and walk’? But in order that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins I say to you rise, take up your pallet and go home.”

Immediately you would watch him obey Christ.

Mark 2:12

So in one fell swoop Jesus demonstrates to everyone present He does have authority over sin by healing the paralytic; however, He shows the scribes His ability to discern the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

Christ’s demonstration here is essentially saying to the scribes in an unspoken manner:

“You are right, only God can forgive sin. Is it not also true that only God can discern the thoughts and intentions of the heart? Therefore, who do you say that I AM?”

In response to the scribes’ thoughts Christ publicly declares to all present He is the Messiah.

“But in order that you may know the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins…”

Christ refers to Himself as the Son of Man roughly 80 times in the New Testament. The scribes present understood that to be the Messianic title described in Daniel:

Daniel 7:13-14

The scribes believed the Messiah to be only a man. Jesus, however, shows them He is the Messiah and He is both fully God and fully man.

Does Jesus Christ have the authority to forgive you sins? Absolutely!

Q.) How does He have such authority? He is God Almighty!

Remember, God is just and did not overlook sin. The sins of mankind, our sins, demand death and eternal separation from God. Jesus Christ therefore humbly emptied Himself and became a Man obedient to death via crucifixion. In order for God to justly redeem man He had to become a Man.

Jesus said this about His life in the gospel of John:

John 10:17-18

Never forget the only reason we are able to be forgiven by faith is because our sin was judged on an innocent life that was willingly laid down. The Father then poured out His wrath on our sin. Remember, He did not pour out His wrath on our sin until it was first placed on His Son.

The Scripture says:

“He (The Father) made Him (The Son, Christ) who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf that we might become the righteousness of God.”[15]

It reads elsewhere in Isaiah:

“…the LORD was pleased to crush Him, putting Him to grief if He would render Himself as a guilt offering…My servant will justify the many, as He will bear their iniquity…He poured out Himself to death…He Himself bore the sin of many and interceded for the transgressors.”[16]

Jesus took our sins and bled and died the death we deserve and appeased the wrath of God. He was buried and three days later rose from the grave, and because He lives eternally all who trust in His finished work will have eternal life.

To the non-believer: Do you want to be forgiven of your sins? Repent and believe the gospel alone!

To the believers: Do you want Christ to be glorified in your life? Look to the gospel alone and be sanctified!

1 John 2:1-2


[1] Mark 1:29-45

[2] Luke 5:25

[3] Romans 3:23

[4] Romans 5:12

[5] Ephesians 2:3

[6] Genesis 6:5;8:21

[7] Romans 3:10-12

[8] Philippians 1:6;2:12-13

[9] Romans 7:14-25

[10] Mark 1:29-34

[11] Matthew 4:12-17; John 1:35-42

[12] Mark 1:38

[13] Luke 5:19

[14] 1 Kings 8:39; 1 Chronicles 28:9; 1 Samuel 16:7; Psalm 7:9;44:21

[15] 2 Corinthians 5:21

[16] Isaiah 53:10-12

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