People who are part of our world, our family, friends, coworkers, neighbors are in need.
We see the problems and the difficulties they are experiencing, marriage problems, financial troubles, addictions, depression, sickness. Our hearts go out to them. We want to help.
But do we understand their greatest need?
Four friends of a man in Mark chapter 2 thought they did.
“Some days later when Jesus came back to Capernaum, people heard that Jesus was back in town and many gathered at the house where He was staying. Soon the crowd overflowed from the house into the streets, and still more people pressed forward to hear Jesus teaching the message of God’s kingdom. Four men tried to bring a crippled friend to Him; but since the crowd prevented their carrying him close enough to get Jesus’ attention, they climbed up onto the roof, opened a hole in it, and lowered the paralyzed man on his mat down to Jesus”. Mark 2:1-4
Jesus has come to town, the crowds are big, and there is a man (he is not named) who is unable to walk, he is crippled. His four friends bring him to Jesus but because of the crowds can’t reach Him or get His attention.
They take their friend to the roof, cut a hole in it and lower him down to Jesus. Jesus recognizes the faith of these men and says to the crippled man
“Son, your sins are forgiven”. Mark 2:5
Mark does not write about the four friends response to Jesus statement.
They have just gone to a great deal of trouble to get their friend to Jesus, and are now possibly facing charges for destruction of private property. Not to mention drawing quite a bit of maybe angry attention to themselves.
Jesus doesn’t say “you are healed, get up” instead he says, “your sins are forgiven”.
We know the religious people didn’t like it “Some scribes were sitting in the crowd, and they didn’t like what they were hearing”. Mark 2:6
Possibly the mans friends didn’t either. They knew what his life was like, the hardship he faced as a cripple.
If their friend could only walk again it would change everything, but Jesus has not given them what they came for, the healing of their friend.
They did not understand his greatest need. Jesus did.
In response to the religious leaders criticism of His statement “Son, your sins are forgiven, Jesus said:
“Why do My words trouble you so? Think about this: is it easier to tell this paralyzed man, “Your sins are forgiven,” or to tell him, “Get up, pick up your mat, and walk”? Still, I want to show you that the Son of Man has been given the authority on earth to forgive sins. (to the paralytic) Get up, pick up your mat, and go home”. Mark 2:8-11
My pastor this morning offered this observation. It was easy to say “pick up your mat and go home”.
To say “your sins are forgiven” was much harder, the price greater. In fact it would cost Him his life.
And the Cross would be the price that would be paid so that all, the crippled man, his friends and all that would come after, could be not only healed but forgiven.
Like the four friends of this crippled man we sometimes do not see that the greatest need for all of us is forgiveness. Jesus understood is our greatest need.
Colossians 1:12-14 is one of my favorite passages in the Bible and it confirms this need in a promise
“ Thank You, Father, as You have made us eligible to receive our portion of the inheritance given to all those set apart by the light. You have rescued us from dark powers and brought us safely into the kingdom of Your Son, whom You love and in whom we are redeemed and forgiven of our sins [through His blood].[e]
Inheritance, set apart, rescued from darkness, safe, redeemed, everything begins with and hinges on forgiveness.
Forgiveness that breaks the curse that began in Genesis 3:8, that provides a way to the Father, through Jesus Christ, forgiveness that invites us into real life more and better that we could imagine.
We should always do what we can to address the physical, emotional and materials needs of those around us. But we must remember the greatest need of our family, friends, co-workers, neighbors just as it was with the crippled man is forgiveness.
This changes everything.
I would like to thank the pastors at James River Church for their dedication to excellence in sharing the Word through expository teaching. Currently they are teaching through the book of Mark
This post was inspired by a message taught by pastor David Lindell, from the 2nd chapter of Mark on Sunday November 1st. “Through the Eyes of Jesus”
To watch this or any other sermons in this series go to