Mark 2:1-12 – Who Can Forgive Sins?


Mark 2:1-12


Through his healing of a paralyzed man, Jesus highlights the importance of faith and shows that his ministry includes the forgiveness of sins.


Though the crowds do not doubt Jesus’ ability to heal people and cast out demons, they continue to show confusion as to the nature of Jesus’ authority. This confusion turns into conflict when four men bring their paralyzed companion to Jesus for healing. Unable to reach him through the crowd, they go the extra mile and lower the paralyzed man down through the roof. Mark points out, using Pauline vocabulary, that Jesus is not impressed by their deed, but by their faith (2:5). Jesus then makes explicit the connection between faith, forgiveness of sins, and a familial relationship with God. He addresses the paralyzed man with the language of family, calling him “My child” and then proclaiming the forgiveness of his sins (2:5).

Immediately, Mark shows his readers the difference between Jesus who has authority and the scribes who do not. The scribes, who of all people should be able to understand Jesus’ ministry, instead consider his actions blasphemous. In another display of his power, Jesus discerns the inner thoughts of the scribes and then shames them for not having faith like the men who lowered their paralyzed companion through the roof. He heals the man, proving his authority and proving their lack of understanding.