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Who Can Forgive Sins but God Alone?

by Brant Pitre February 28, 2019 0 Comments


And then he performs “Mighty Works”; in Greek, Dunamis. What word do we get from that? Dynamite. That’s exactly right. So Jesus is dynamite. He’s like dynamite in the gospel of Mark. It’s supernatural power that he’s putting on display. The question we have though is this: why all the miracles? Ever wondered about that? What is the point of Jesus’ miracles? Why does he go out performing them? Why doesn’t he just come and teach? If his purpose (for example) was to come and teach us to love one another why didn’t he just focus on that? What’s the point of all the miracles? Well, let’s look at a couple of examples and see if we can answer that question.

The first one is very famous it’s the healing of the paralytic from the gospel of Mark. It gives us a lot of fascinating details. In chapter 2, verse 1-12 we read this story:

When Jesus returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. And many were gathered together, so that there was no longer room for them, not even around the door; and he was preaching the word to them.

Notice, everyone’s coming. The crowds are there. Why? Because they want to be healed. They want to hear his word and they want to receive his healing. It makes me think about one year my family and I went to the Shrine of Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos for the healing mass they had there. We had to sit in the top row in the choir loft all the way (I mean, that was the old place we could even find a couple of spots. We had to hold the kids the whole time), because it was a mass for healing and everybody’s suffering. So the crowds are just packed in at that Church, and they were packed in back then too, with Jesus there.

They came bringing to him a paralytic (a man who is paralyzed) carried by four men. And when they could not get near him because of the crowd,

They did what was logical. Just take the roof off the place, right?

they removed the roof above him; and when they had made an opening, they let down the pallet on which the paralytic lay.

So this man is desperate. His friends are desperate to get him help.

And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “My son, your sins are forgiven.”

I don’t know about you, but if I was the paralytic, this is what I’d be thinking: Thanks a lot, but that’s not exactly what I came for. Did you notice what just happened? He comes for physical healing and what does Jesus do? “My son,” (first of all, where does he get off calling him his son) “your sins are forgiven.”

Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, “Why does this man speak thus? It is blasphemy! Who can forgive sins but God alone?”

God alone. The Jews knew that. The one person who forgives sins. And that’s God.

And immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to them, “Why do you question thus in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your pallet and walk’?

Now, what’s the obvious answer? It’s easier to say “Your sins are forgiven” because you can’t see whether it actually happened or not. You can’t see the miracle of the forgiveness of sins. There’s no (like) rash that you get when you’re in mortal sin. “You have a mortal sin rash and it goes away once your sins are forgiven, okay?” It’s an invisible reality. So he says, “what’s easier?” To say “Your sins are forgiven” or say “Rise, get up and walk”?

But, I say to you 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, take up your pallet and go home.” And he rose, and immediately took up his pallet and went out before them all; so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!”

Mark 2:1-12. This miracle is really important because it shows us something very important about the miracles. Jesus doesn’t just perform miracles just to show off. He’s not coming to say “Hey! Look what I can do! I can make the paralyzed walk.” He’s coming to this world to perform a greater miracle, and that miracle is the deliverance of the human race from bondage to sin. From bondage to sin. Because at the end of the day suffering and death in this world are ultimately the result of sin. The original sin. That’s what he’s really about.

And so he teaching them through his miracles what he’s really come to do. But in order to get us hard-hearted humans to believe he has the power to deliver us from sin, he’s got to show us that he’s also got the power to deliver us from suffering and even death itself. Does that make sense?

So in other words, he performs the visible healing to prove that he can do the invisible healing. He heals the paralysis of the body to show he has the power to heal the paralysis of the soul. And that’s really what sin is, right? It paralyzes you. It makes you incapable of moving. It gets you stuck. You’re in bondage to it. Such that you can’t get free any more than this paralyzed guy could make himself walk. You’ve got to have a savior. You’ve got to have a redeemer. You’ve got to have somebody who’s got more power than you to set you free and make you able to walk again. To say to you what? Rise. Get up. Walk with God.


Brant Pitre
Brant Pitre


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