When he returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. 2So many gathered around that there was no longer room for them, not even in front of the door; and he was speaking the word to them. 3Then some people* came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. 4And when they could not bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him; and after having dug through it, they let down the mat on which the paralytic lay. 5When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven.’ 6Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, 7‘Why does this fellow speak in this way? It is blasphemy! Who can forgive sins but God alone?’ 8At once Jesus perceived in his spirit that they were discussing these questions among themselves; and he said to them, ‘Why do you raise such questions in your hearts? 9Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, “Your sins are forgiven”, or to say, “Stand up and take your mat and walk”? 10But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins’—he said to the paralytic— 11‘I say to you, stand up, take your mat and go to your home.’ 12And he stood up, and immediately took the mat and went out before all of them; so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, ‘We have never seen anything like this!’
Continuing our discussion – I have re-pasted the same scripture so that you have it handy. When Jesus saw their (the friends’) faith, he spoke to the man who had been lowered from the roof right in front of him, saying, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” Jesus knew that there was more to this man’s disability than the physical paralysis; he had another need, more pressing than the physical, a need for healing of his soul, a need for forgiveness. And so, Jesus says, “Your sins are forgiven.”
But there are those present, scribes – leaders in the church who study the scripture – who say, wait a minute, who does he think he is? Only God can forgive sins. But Jesus knows what they are thinking, and he responds to their thoughts, and he says “Why do you raise such questions in your hearts?” He asks if it is easier for him to say your sins are forgiven, or take up your mat and walk? But then, “so that you (the scribes) may know that the Son of Man (Jesus will refer to himself in this way throughout Mark’s gospel) has the power to forgive sins” he had told the man his sins were forgiven. And then, he tells him to take up his mat and go home – and the man stood up, “immediately” took his mat, and walked out. (I can picture that crowd parting in amazement to let him go out!)
The story of the man who was healed by the faith of his friends, and their willingness to act on their faith for his sake, is interrupted here by the story of Jesus’ response to the unbelieving scribes, seeking fault in everything even this early in Jesus’ ministry. Mark often uses the technique of interrupting one story with another, in a way that links the two. So here, it is faith that brings the man to Jesus, but it is unbelief that seeks fault in what Jesus does. Do we act on our faith, or do we stand back and criticize like the scribes? Where are we in this story? Are we the man, sick of soul and body, who needs friends to bring us to Jesus? Are we friends bringing the man to Jesus, certain that Jesus can heal? So certain that we are willing to dig a hole through the roof? Are we the owner of the house, wondering what in the world is happening, but trusting Jesus, and just waiting to see what will happen next?