A Body and Soul Salvation
Topic: Jesus Scripture: Mark 2:1–12
A Full House
I’m sure many of you know who Candace Cameron is. She played D. J. Tanner on the hit TV sitcom Full House. Did you know that Candace Cameron once made an appearance at our very own Mic Mac Mall?
It happened on December 29, 1992. But her appearance didn’t go as planned. If you want to look at the bright side, the event showed that Candace Cameron was much more popular than the event organizers realized. You could say that Mic Mac Mall was literally a full house that day!
Unfortunately, so many people showed up that most people didn’t get to meet Candace Cameron. And from the ATV News report, it looked like they weren’t very happy about it.
Mark 4 tells us about another full house.
A Story of Forgiveness and Healing
Jesus returns to Capernaum, a village of about 1,500 people. In a small town, news travels fast. And soon everyone knows that Jesus is in town (v. 1).
People begin to gather at the house where Jesus is staying. (Perhaps it was the house belonging to Peter and Andrew, cf. 1:29). The typical house in Capernaum would have been small, so it doesn’t take long for the house to fill up with people. And Jesus begins to preach (v. 2).
While he’s preaching, four men arrive carrying their friend on a mat. Their friend is paralyzed. He’s unable to walk (v. 3). Was he paralyzed due to disease or injury? We don’t know.
Obviously, there’s no way they’re getting into the house. But they don’t give up. They move on to plan B. The house probably had a flat roof, accessible by an exterior staircase. So the four men carry their friend up to the roof (v. 4a).
Roofs in those days were usually made of wooden beams, thatched with branches and mud. So determined are the men to get their friend to Jesus that they begin to dig through the roof (v. 4b). (Did Jesus continue to preach as pieces of the roof were falling down?)
Eventually the men make a hole big enough for their paralyzed friend, and they lower him down into the room where Jesus is. When he sees their faith, Jesus says to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven” (v. 5).
Probably this isn’t what you expected Jesus to say. Why didn’t he immediately heal the man? Was the man’s sin the cause of his paralysis? That’s possible. It’s also possible that the man merely assumed that his sin was the cause. The truth is, we don’t know. (Sometimes “I don’t know” is the best answer.) Either way, Jesus offers him forgiveness.
As all of this is unfolding, a group of scribes are sitting there, taking everything in (v. 6). You could think of these scribes as the Bible experts of their day. And when they hear Jesus say, “Son, your sins are forgiven,” they think to themselves, “Why is this man talking like this? He’s blaspheming! Only God can forgive sins!” (v. 7).
Deuteronomy 6:4 says, “Hear, O Israel: the LORD our God, the LORD is one.” There is only one God, and he is the only one able to forgive sins. For a person to claim to do what only God can do is blasphemy.
Blasphemy was a serious crime for the Jews. The OT talks about putting a person to death if they’re guilty of blasphemy (cf. Lev. 24:10-16).
Jesus knows what the scribes are thinking, so he says to them, “Which is easier: to say to this paralyzed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven,” or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat, and walk’?” (v. 9, NIV). The key word is “say.” It’s easier to say, “Your sins are forgiven” because a claim to be able to forgive sins can’t be disproven. On the other hand, if you tell a paralyzed man, “Get up and walk,” and it doesn’t happen, you’ll instantly be ridiculed.
Jesus says to the scribes, “But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins …” (v. 10) . Then he turns to the paralyzed man and tells him, “Get up, take your mat and go home” (v. 11, NIV).
The man immediately gets up, picks up his mat, and walks out. Everyone is stunned! (v. 12a) And they say to one another, “We have never seen anything like this!” (v. 12b, NIV).
Jesus demonstrated that he had the authority to forgive sins and heal disease.
Sin and Sickness
Is there a link between sin and sickness? In other words, when a person is sick (e.g., diagnosed with cancer), is their sickness caused by personal sin?
- In a general sense, the cause of all sickness can be traced back to the Fall.
- Sometimes sickness is caused by personal sin. [Read John 5:14; 1 Cor. 11:30.]
- Sometimes sickness is not caused by personal sin. [Read John 9:2-3; 2 Cor. 12:7.]
Usually, the best rule of thumb is to assume that you don’t know the cause of people’s sickness. We don’t want to be like Job’s “friends” who wrongly told him that his suffering was caused by his own sin.
Body and Soul
The story of Jesus healing and forgiving the paralyzed man shows us that God cares about both our body and our soul.
The OT prophets promised a day when the kingdom of God would come to earth. [Read Isa. 35:5-6a.] When Jesus began his public ministry, he announced, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand” (Mark 1:15).
When John the Baptist was in prison, he began to wonder if Jesus really was the one they had been waiting for. [Read Matt. 11:2-5.] The things that the prophets had talked about were starting to happen (e.g., the healing of the paralyzed man).
The kingdom of God hasn’t yet fully come to earth yet. We still pray, “Your kingdom come” (Matt. 6:10). (It wasn’t until after the death and resurrection of Jesus that his followers realized that the kingdom would come in two stages. We now await the return of Jesus.)
In Revelation 21:5, God says, “Behold, I am making all things new.” [Read Rev. 21:1-4.] Revelation 21 gives us a picture of a complete restoration of the world—a restoration of earth and our bodies. We won’t be living forever with God as spirits. (Spirits don’t have eyes, cf. v. 4.)
Salvation isn’t just about the saving of our souls. It’s also about the saving of our bodies. This is why sometimes the Bible talks about salvation as a future thing for believers. [Read Rom. 13:11.]
“We’ve Never Seen Anything Like This!”
Remember what people were saying after Jesus healed the paralyzed man: “We never saw anything like this!”
Back in 1992, people at the Mic Mac Mall were probably saying the same thing.
There’s coming a day when all things will be made new, and everyone will say, “We’ve never seen anything like this!”
People will say, “Do you really expect me to believe all this? Miracles? A new world? Sounds like fairy tales.”
Perhaps the best way to convince others of the truth of the gospel is to live in a way that shows the difference the gospel can make in a life. What if we lived so that when people looked at us they said, “We’ve never seen anyone like this?”