Reading Scripture: Mark 2: 1-12

A big chunk of text today, so let’s get down to it. Mark 2: 1-12.

Interesting note for verse one, that Jesus was considered “at home” in Capernaum, despite being Jesus of Nazareth. I wonder where he actually lived?

“So many gathered.” If we reference earlier verses, we can see that the whole town was able to gather, previously, approximately 1500 people without mention of the number, so I guess the neighbouring towns were also there.

One can get a sense of what “near the door” means, as well as how these individuals could have gotten to and through the roof from this image of a first-century Palestinian dwelling. It seems likely that the numbers are exaggerated in that maybe 50 people could fit in this sort of dwelling. Even in Capernaum, as shown in this rendering, maybe 100 people could have fit in and around a home. It is entirely plausible that the numbers they suggest were in town to see Jesus, but a fraction of those would have been able to hear him.

It could be interesting to note that Jesus teaching “the word” here is likely the same teachings he was giving to the synagogues from the previous chapter. Talking about the Old Testament and his understanding of the law and prophets. The first chapter established that Jesus had the authority to teach without reference even to those in the Synagogue, which seems to justify his authority to teach the masses.

I wonder how they lowered the paralytic. Maybe by ropes? Did they bring the ropes in anticipation of needing to do so? Did they find ropes? Perhaps the faith Jesus speaks of is not their faith that he could heal their friend, but faith that the friend would not fall and die while lowering him.

Verse five is one of my favourites because it stands as a testament to my understanding of God and Jesus: “Son, your sins are forgiven.” Not, your sins will be forgiven, but they are forgiven. I also want to note that the specific passive language used in the text makes it clear that God is doing the forgiving, not Jesus. That is, Jesus is speaking the words on God’s behalf.

It is here that we return to the message of Mark from the previous chapter: the authority of Jesus. Once again, Jesus said something that he should not be able to say, because he is not a priest, and does not speak for God in Jewish culture. What Jesus was doing simply didn’t make sense to these Jews, because they had rituals and rights which they felt must be performed in order for such things to occur, very similar to Jesus’ exorcisms and healings. This is why they say, “This doesn’t make sense!” and Jesus responds with, “Why doesn’t it?”

He then explains himself. I have the authority on earth to forgive sins, so it makes sense that I can simply tell this man that his sins are forgiven. Surely it’s easier to tell a person their sins are forgiven than to make them put on a show as a sign of authority, but since you insist, that is what I will do.

What this does is once again prove that Jesus can act with the authority of God as defined in Jewish culture, on earth. Once again, in their culture, other people could heal/resurrect/exorcise but did so using exhaustive ritualistic methods, not just a few words. It should also be noted here that using the authority of God, in this case, did not cause the Jews to worship Jesus or think he was God himself. As can be seen in verse 12 when the Jews glorified God, not Jesus.

The final thing I want to talk about is Jesus’ use of the term “Son of Man,” which in Aramaic, Jesus’ language, means “some person” or “me”. Our modern equivalent would be “average joe” or “Mr Smith.” Jesus understood that because he was just a normal human, the people gathered would not trust him to have the authority of God, and so he obliged in giving them a sign. This is something we should remember later under similar circumstances.

Interestingly enough, in the Greek language the authors used in writing the New Testament, Son of Man references pictorial descriptions of Daniel 7:13, also referencing a human being, but one who comes on a cloud which only God does. Thus, when Jesus speaks in his native language, there is no divine reference, but the translation into Greek later added a hint of divinity and reference once again to Old Testament “prophecy.” Also something worth noting for later.

In the next blog, I want to discuss how I see Jesus’ words about forgiveness in this story, as well as my understanding of his good news. It will help you understand where I’m coming from, and where I’m going as we continue our reading through scripture.

Grace and Peace to you all.

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. IF YOU FORGIVE THE SINS…? by steve finnell

    Did Jesus give Peter and the apostles the authority to forgive individuals of their sins before and after they became Christians? Do contemporary pastors and priests have the authority to forgive Christians of their sins? The answer is no, no, and no.

    ONLY GOD FORGIVES SINS

    Mark 2:1-7……. “Why does this man speak that way? He is blaspheming; who can forgive sins but God alone.(NASB)

    Jesus was God on earth, He had the authority to forgive sins. The apostles were not God on earth. Contemporary pastors and priest are not God on earth. For anyone other than God to claim they have the authority to forgive sin is blasphemous.

    Isaiah 43:15-25 “I am the Lord, your Holy One…..25 “I even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake, And I will not remember your sins.(NASB)

    No preachers, pastors, apostles, nor priests can wipe out transgressions. Only God forgives sin.

    Micah 7:18 Who is a God like You who pardons iniquity…(NASB)

    The apostle Peter nor any apostle had the power to pardon sins. There is not an example in the New Testament Scriptures where any apostle said to an individual nor a group of people I forgive you of your sins.

    Jesus gave Peter the keys to the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 16:9) Jesus not give Peter and the apostles the authority to grant forgiveness to men. Only God forgives sin.

    Peter used the keys on the Day of Pentecost. The keys were faith, repentance, and immersions in water. (Acts 2:22-41)
    Peter did not say I or we the apostles forgive you of your sins against God, nor did he say that to anyone Christians subsequently. [Terms of pardon:FAITH John 3:16, REPENTANCE Acts 3:19, CONFESSION Romans 10:9, IMMERSION IN WATER Acts 2:38, Mark 16:16]

    There is no Scriptures that teaches that apostles, preachers, pastors, priests, nor the church as the power of absolution. Only God forgives sin.

    1 John 2:1 My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous;(NASB)

    The apostle John did not tell those in the body of Christ to ask for absolution for theirs sins by asking the church, the priest nor the pastor to grant them forgiveness from their sins against God.

    ONLY GOD FORGIVES SINS!

    We know that, John 20:23, does not mean the apostles, priests, pastors, nor the church has the authority to forgive men of their sins against God.

    Teaching the gospel plan of salvation to men does not mean the teacher has the authority to forgive sin.

    Praying for fellow church members does not mean that the one who prays has the authority to forgive sins.

    YOU ARE INVITED TO READ MY BLOG>>> steve-finnell.blogspot.com

    Like

    1. Hey Steve,

      Thanks for this. I only just found this as it had been put in my spam folder, you may want to consider that in future comments.

      I think it is important for you to go back to my first three blogs and contemplate where we disagree because when I started this I pointed out that there were foundational beliefs which if one did not agree with, they would likely not enjoy my work.

      I think we disagree fundamentally that the Bible was a human book. When you reference the Old Testament, I see ancient humans giving us their understanding of how sin works, not God’s infallible word of truth. When you quote Paul, I see a man 60 years after Jesus, using his own very Jewish and human interpretation of the message of Christ to best fit his context and lead his churches, not the end of the discussion about what sin is.

      As you can read above, Mark’s quote is referring to the Pharisees. They were questioning in astonishment how this normal man could claim to forgive sins. I will get to evidence in the gospels of whether Jesus was God or not, but up until this point logically there is no reason to believe, in the book of Mark, that Jesus is God. No evidence at all, in fact.

      I hope you don’t find this comment defensive at all, for that is not how I intend it. I am simply trying to express my educated understanding of these texts. I want to also say that I am very happy to read your comment and I welcome your critique of my work, as your thoughts help me see where my understanding may have some weaknesses. While we view the Bible fundamentally differently, I hope you don’t write me off as a crazy liberal and continue to consider my work, as I consider yours: an opportunity to strengthen my understanding.

      Grace and Peace to you, sir.

      Like

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