FAQ - The Man Sick of the Palsy - Mark chapter Two
Questions: The man healed of palsy in Mark chapter 2 first had his sins forgiven.
Is the forgiveness of sins necessary to the healing of people?
Did Jesus forgive the man's sins because they were the cause of his palsy?
Let us first read together the text from which the question originates.
1. And again He entered into Capernaum after some days; and it was noised that He was in the house.
2. And straightway many were gathered together, insomuch that there was no room to receive them, no, not so much as about the door: and He preached the Word unto them.
3. And they came unto Him, bringing one sick of the palsy, which was borne of four.
4. And when they could not come nigh unto Him for the press, they uncovered the roof where He was: and when they had broken it up, they let down the bed wherein the sick of the palsy lay.
5. When Jesus saw their faith, He said unto the sick of the palsy, "Son, thy sins be forgiven thee."
6. But there were certain scribes sitting there, and reasoning in their hearts,
7. Why does this man thus speak blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God only?
8. And immediately when Jesus perceived in His Spirit that they so reasoned within themselves, He said unto them, "Why reason ye these things in your hearts?
9. Whether is it easier to say to the sick of the palsy, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise and take up thy bed, and walk?
10. But that ye may know that the Son of Man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (He saith to the sick of the palsy.)
11. I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house."
12. And immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went forth before them all; insomuch that they were all amazed, and glorified God, saying, We never saw it on this fashion.
Now let us consider the disease that is being pictured in the text:
Palsy is an old term for a paralysis in any part of the body. Sometimes it is accompanied by shaking or trembling. Very often we are talking about a chronic degenerative disease of the central nervous system characterized by tremors, muscular rigidity, weakness, and a masklike expression. It is clear that palsy is a serious problem and what is presented in the Biblical text is not some hysterical disorder that some unbelieving critics would like to suppose because they hate the Word of God and the miracles of God.
Forgiveness of sins is man's greater need over health-
The man who was so dramatically brought to the Lord Jesus Christ had the same great need that all have, that is, to have sins forgiven. The fact that the Lord went right to the heart of this need, quite apart from the fact He was intent on using the occasion to demonstrate that He is God serves to illustrate how badly men are in need of the forgiveness of sins. The fact this is so shows why the Bible presents the fact some sickness does enter into people's lives because of sin. Sickness is preferable to sin. But this does not mean that all sickness is caused by sin. This has been a false teaching down through the centuries and it continues to be prevalent today.
When people pray for the healing of sickness things happen:
The Scriptural teaching about the healing of sickness is that it is the prayer of faith that heals the sick. (James 5:15) That passage puts the responsibility of relationship on those who do the praying for the sick. There has been a false teaching about that when someone does not get healed it is because of a lack of faith on the part of the one wanting healing. This lets these so-called faith healers off the hook when they cannot deliver what they promise. There are two factors present in divine healing today;
1. The relationship of those who are praying for healing with the Lord.
2. The will of God in the matter of whether the person should be healed or not.
People who go to pray for sick ones should have their relationship right with God through the forgiveness of sins, lest their prayers be hindered. The Lord Jesus Christ, as the sinless One, needed no forgiveness of sins in order to either heal or forgive sin. What did impress Him was the faith the sick man's friends had in Him. They knew that he could be healed if they could but get him to Jesus. The James passage makes it plain that healing is a joint operation between the persons doing the praying and God in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ. James says that the sick person's past sins are still forgiven today when such an event takes place. He does not say that their future sins are forgiven or that they have received salvation as a result of being healed.
Healing takes place every day that is not prayed for in the Biblical manner:
Since God does heal sick people in hospitals and other places every day who are not saved it is plain that the forgiveness of sins are not a prerequisite to healing. James shows the forgiveness of sins coming after healing and within the context of the church (gathered, organized believers) operation. Every time a person gets well from anything it is the grace of God in operation, but this does not mean that there is any forgiveness of sin involved. People who are healed in a lost and sinful state have experienced some little part of God's unmerited favor, but that does not mean they have received all.
No man has the power to forgive sins:
This power has not been present with any man since the passing of the Apostles. We realize that there are some that claim falsely that they have the power to forgive sins. It was a temporary gift for the establishment of the church, which was evidenced to by their ability to perform miracles of the same type as our Lord. A study of the language also indicated that the Apostolic power was not absolute. They could only diminish the impact of sin in their capacity as the emissaries of the King of kings. The Lord Jesus Christ used the healing of the sick man as the means to give evidence to the fact He was able to forgive sins absolutely, and that therefore He was God. Since man cannot forgive sins, and cannot determine for sure whether sins have been forgiven, were the forgiveness of sins prerequisite to the prayer for healing, we would be unable to ever pray for anyone to be healed.
This passage records a time when the Lord Jesus Christ demonstrated that He was indeed God in the flesh, reaching beyond even unspoken to words to reveal what resided in the skeptical minds of some gathered in Capernaum that day. It should not be confused with the way He allows men to cooperate in the healing process today. Although the Lord Jesus Christ is a compassionate Person, His real reason for doing miracles during His earthly ministry was to demonstrate Who He is and why He came. Miracles in the early church were to establish the church.
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