Notes on Mark 2, verses 6-12
by Jonathan Spurlock
(Holts Summit, MO)
Mark 2:6, KJV: But there were certain of the scribes sitting there, and reasoning in their hearts,
The scribes were some of the religious leaders of that time. They’re sometimes mentioned in connection with the Pharisees (another religious group), and several times they're mentioned separately. Scribes were teachers of the law (Matthew 7:9. 9:3—especially in newer translations, e.g.) but also were among those who were the most hostile to Jesus. Matthew’s gospel has several encounters between Jesus and the scribes, plus one of the most severe messages ever preached in Matthew 23. One scribe seemed genuinely interested in what Jesus was saying, and heard Jesus say “You are not far from the kingdom of God”—sadly, there’s no record that scribe ever made it there (see Mark 12:28-34).
Just why the scribes were here, at this house, and at that time, is not known, but certainly they heard Jesus preach the Word and they saw one of the most unusual healings ever. Sadly, their opposition to Jesus only seems to have increased as one reads further in the Gospels.
7 Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies? who can forgive sins but God only?
The scribes were thinking this in their hearts as well as their minds. Blasphemy is a word that seems to have changed meaning over the years. It’s actually a Greek word spelled with English letters (transliterated, not translated) and according to several Bible teachers meant to speak evil or irreverently about God or holy things. Thus, the scribes claimed Jesus was speaking blasphemies because He told the man who was sick of the palsy that his sins were forgiven. The scribes apparently didn’t believe Jesus was God in flesh.
Jesus was and is God in human flesh, ever since His virgin birth. As God, He did and does have the power and authority to forgive sins. I for one am so glad He has forgiven mine!
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?
Imagine the shock and amazement when the scribes heard Jesus say what they were thinking! He asked them, point blank, “Why are you thinking about what I just said to the sick man (paraphrased)?”
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?
These are rhetorical questions, where no answer is really expected. What could the scribes really say? In terms of speech alone, each set of words would be equally easy to say or pronounce. Without the power of God to heal, however, the words would be just . . . words. Nothing was going to change. Without the power to forgive, again, the words would be just words and the sins would still not be forgiven.
The scribes knew they could say either phrase, or both of these phrases, but they would accomplish nothing, so it seems they held their peace.
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,)
Jesus turned from the scribes to the sick man and prepared to say something very important to him.
11 I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house.
This was important. Some think that if Jesus had only uttered words, but the man remained sick, that would question if He really had the power to forgive sins. By the same standard, if the man was healed, it would give credence (proof?) that Jesus had this power.
Now Jesus, having turned His attention to the sick man and away from the scribes, gives the man three commandments: first, simply, Arise! Get off the bed! There is no need to speculate what kind of bed the man was lying on. He was sick of the palsy, a very serious disease, and the man was so sick he couldn’t walk to Jesus. He had to have four of his friends carry him there. He had been lying on the bed, but now Jesus tells him, “Arise!”
The second command was to “take up your bed”. Jesus gave this same command somewhat later, in John 5, when He healed the lame man by the Pool of Bethesda. It’s not certain why Jesus gave this command but this is something He commanded this man to do anyway.
Finally Jesus commanded him to “go thy way into thine house”. Why He said this, instead of asking the used to be sick man to become a disciple is not known. We must leave this in God’s hands. Having said this, one possible idea is that this man would be a better testimony or witness for Jesus at his home territory. Jesus did something similar when He told the “wild man of Gadara” to go his own house and tell everyone what God had done for him (Luke 8:26-39).
The people heard the words of Jesus. Now what was going to happen?
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.
Mark says “immediately” the sick man arose (commandment 1), took up his bed (commandment 2) and walked! He “went forth before them all”! He had been carried in on his bed, and now he was walking home, and carrying his bed with him. This was proof that Jesus could heal, and by extension, forgive sins.
And the reaction of the people? They were amazed and glorified God! They said “We never saw it on this fashion.” I doubt they or anyone had seen people dig a hole in the roof of a house and lower a man, who was sick on a bed, down to where Jesus was preaching. They may have never heard anyone verbally say “your sins are forgiven” but now they saw Jesus Who did indeed forgive the sins of this man. It’s also likely they had never seen anyone walk away after arriving in a condition (the medical community calls this “non-ambulatory”) such as his previous condition.
I doubt anybody there ever forgot what they saw. It would be hard for me to forget something like that!
(Full disclosure: there is a sermon of mine on Sermon Central based on this passage, called “Go thy way: Mark 2-When Jesus healed a paralytic” but I have not deliberately copied any information from that message into these notes. Any such overlap
may be inevitable based on the same topic and passage, but unintentional).
Scripture quotations taken from the King James Version of the Bible (KJV).