Calvary Road Baptist Church


Mark 2.5


Turn in your Bible to Mark chapter two.

It would be hot that day. He would be miserable that day. It seemed he had been crippled for so long. His legs and arms, once so heavily muscled and strong, were now wasted away and skinny. He could hardly remember when he had walked, or worked, or smiled. His heart was so heavy with grief in the stifling heat. To be sure, he was surrounded by family and friends. However, no one who knew him knew the depths of his depravity. They could not have imagined the concealed wickedness of his heart, the sins he had both secretly committed and thought about committing. Everyone who knew him felt so sorry for him, and their hearts were broken for him, but had they known his sinfulness they would have been horrified. His mind frequently wandered on days like today to those times when he and his friends used to fish the Sea of Galilee. It had been back breaking work, but he loved it. He was young, and strong then, and happy in those days. He was also carefree, completely unconcerned about the condition of his soul. Carelessness is what led to it, a laxness and a lackadaisical approach toward things his father had warned him about, and his eventual immersion in those vile things. He never told his friends. He would certainly never have told his father, had he still been living. They all knew he was not perfect, but just about everyone who knew him thought he was a better man than he actually was, more good than he knew himself to be. He was so clever in his deceptions. He was also ashamed of himself . . . and heartbroken.

He had sinned in both body and mind. He then sinned again in both body and mind. After a while his pattern of sinning dominated his thoughts, even while he was able to conceal his wickedness from everyone who knew him. It was the words of Moses that continually rang in his ears, in the voice of the old rabbi that had taught him and the other boys in the synagogue: “ye have sinned against the LORD: and be sure your sin will find you out.”[1] Still, he simply could not stop the sins. He was in their grip. He had always thought he could do anything he set his mind to doing. However, he never before knew what a stranglehold sinning would have on his will and his desires. He could stop his sinning . . . for a while. He could even stop thinking about sinning . . . for a while. Then the argumentative and rationalizing thoughts would enter his mind, and his desire to do right would leave him and be replaced by the pleasurable thoughts of wickedness, which would invariably lead once again to the pleasurable deeds of wickedness. One thing led to another, and to another, and to another, until he found himself not only completely enslaved to sinning, both mind and body, but increasingly weakened and uncoordinated. He could no longer pull his weight on the fishing boat, becoming both unable to maintain his once iron-fisted grip on the nets and ropes, and even becoming incapable of steadying himself as the boat rocked under his feet. He lost his sea legs. Sadly, but certainly, he and his friends had to admit that he could not do the work anymore. Something was terribly wrong in his body, and not just in his soul. So, out of necessity they replaced him with someone who could do the work. Eventually, things became so bad he could no longer walk, or dress himself, or even feed himself. Speaking had of late become a very difficult task.

What a miserable day. It was so hot. He was awash in self-pity. Every experience of life seemed to be disappointing. The sinning, the weakness, the lack of coordination, losing his grip and falling, and now he couldn’t even feed himself. What despair. What loneliness. He was so impotent that he could do nothing about the gnats that swarmed around his eyes and nose, or the flies that landed on his lips and arms to feed off of his sweat and the remaining particles of food. He even messed himself. Utterly humiliating. What could he do? He had thought of the terrible sin of suicide, but he was too weak to even relieve himself without help, much less take his own life. Had it been easier for him to speak he would have exploded in a volcano of rage over his situation. He could do nothing. His mind was keen, but his body was practically useless. However, his thoughts inevitably returned to the sins, always back to the sins, never very far from the sins.

What a miserable day. It was so hot. The insects were so bothersome. Would it never end? Dreary day after dreary day. Then he heard from the street that the man named Jesus had returned to Capernaum. He and his friends had heard of Him from time to time. This Jesus was becoming quite the topic of interest. Simon and Andrew, fishermen friends of theirs, were devoted to Him, as were James and John, two younger men he had known his whole life. It was even noised abroad that He had healed Peter’s mother in law so suddenly that she straightway arose and waited on Him. He and his friends had been talking about Jesus for some time now; or rather his friends had been talking about Jesus, while he was able to do little more than listen. They usually got around to a discussion of Jesus after a hard day’s work, when they would come to his house so he would not feel so lonely. They would speak of the day’s catch, the nets, and problems with their old boat, and then the conversation would seem to end up centered on Jesus, what He was teaching and the miracles He was reported to have worked.

That day, that hot and miserable day, they were not out on the water, but tending to a problem with their fishing boat. Then word of mouth spread that Jesus was back and teaching in an acquaintance’s home. They looked at each other with the same idea, and went to their friend’s house and talked to him about it. The same idea had been running through his mind, so his friends quickly built a pallet to carry him on and took him to Jesus. Once in the neighborhood, they saw that thousands of other people had the same idea they had. As a result, the streets leading to the little house were all choking with people. What would they do? Should they quit and go back home? They wondered, and noticed their crippled friend shaking his head no. They were all agreed. They had to find a way, because Jesus was the only one who could possibly help their poor friend. No, He was not the only one who could possibly help their friend. They knew He would help their friend. He, too, knew Jesus would remedy his problem. They had faith that He would. They had faith in Him. And the faith of those men who carried their friend had both feet and determination.

What if that was the back story behind our text? It could have been. Whatever the back story was, it was something similar to what I have related to you. How do I know? I know because the Bible deals with the real problems of real people by a real Savior.

You are already in Mark chapter two. Please stand and begin reading with me silently from verse one:


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 come 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 of the scribes sitting there, and reasoning in their hearts,

7      Why doth 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.


Oh, what a rich passage of glorious gospel truth. This morning’s text is verse five, “When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee.” Be mindful that Jesus did not suggest his sins would be forgiven. He did not suggest that his sins were in the process of being forgiven. The particular form of the Greek verb used here is what is called a punctiliar present, meaning that at this moment his sins are forgiven.[2]

I want to point out three things about this faith of theirs that was the instrumental means of this man’s sins being forgiven:




Please notice what was not the object of their faith:

First, their faith could not have been in their own goodness. We know this because there is no such thing as goodness in anyone. People are only apparently good, but never really good. We know this from Romans 3.12, where the Apostle Paul reminds us of what those five men certainly knew from Psalm 14.3: “there is none that doeth good, no, not one.” As well, when someone once addressed Him as “Good Master,” Jesus responded by saying “unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God.” Although our Lord’s response asserted His own deity, He also made the point that not only does no man actually do good, but no man is good, either.

Next, their faith could not have been in their works of righteousness. They knew the Hebrew scriptures from their instruction in the synagogue. They were certainly familiar with Isaiah 64.6: “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.” Thus, no sinner has any standing before God, and those attempts that some people put forth to achieve a standing before God are only revolting to Him.

Third, their faith could not have been in their religion. Rather, I should say that their faith could not rightly be in their religion, since so many Jews of that day and this day think there is security for their eternal soul in their religion. After all, they think, their religion was given to them by God. While that is true, it must be realized that God did not give the Jews their religion to save them from their sins, but to show them their great need of forgiveness. As Paul concluded in Romans 3.19, “Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.”

Fourth, their faith could not have been in anticipation of what they thought Jesus might do, just as no one’s faith today can be in what Jesus has done. Whether it was the prophetical anticipation of His work on the cross by those who lived and died before He came, or the historical contemplation of what He did by those of us whose lives are lived after the cross, no one is ever forgiven by contemplating, by acknowledging, or by believing what Jesus did for them.

Instead, the Object of their faith had to be, and could only rightly be, Jesus Himself. Billy Graham, for example, used to urge people on many occasions to “come to the cross.” However, there is no place in God’s Word that records Jesus or any of His apostles urging sinners to “come to the cross.” Neither do we see any indication that recognizing that He died on the cross for sinners is sufficient to be saved. Look back at Mark 2.3. We see there, recorded for our great benefit and as an example for all to follow, the words, “And they come unto him. . . .” Is this not precisely what Jesus urged upon us in another place? In Matthew 11.28, He said, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” And in Matthew 19.14, He urged, “Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” Be very careful to recognize the difference between acknowledging and valuing what He did, which results in no one’s sins being forgiven, and actually coming to Jesus, Himself, which does result in the forgiveness of your sins. How does a sinner know Jesus is the Object of his faith? Jesus is the Object of your faith when you come to Him, as these men clearly did.




What obstacles are there to any sinner’s faith?

Some find the obstacle of their goodness an insurmountable obstacle to faith in Christ. I remember many occasions when sinners have protested their goodness in the face of scripture clearly declaring otherwise. “I know what the Bible says, pastor, but I know that I am good.” No, you are not good. You are evil, and you are dead, and you are wicked, and you are sinful, and you are God’s enemy . . . so long as you refuse His Son, Jesus Christ.[3]

Still others are much put off by the need to strive to enter in at the strait gate. My friends, I do not know exactly why some sinners experience false hopes from false conversion experiences. Neither do I know precisely what is the working of God’s Spirit in a man when he strives to enter in at the strait gate. All I know is that Jesus determined that those who had heard the gospel without effect should strive. In Luke 13.24, Jesus commanded, “Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.” Yet, there are many sinners who stubbornly refuse to strive and, so, will not be saved from their sins.

In addition to these kinds of obstacles, there are also physical obstacles. I know a servant of God who had to get up on Sunday mornings and quietly leave the house so as not to awaken his drunken aunt and uncle. I also know of a little boy who walked past one church near his home in Chicago despite terrible cold and wind to get to Mr. Moody’s church some distance away. The point that I seek to make is that there are all kinds of obstacles, that every one of us faces, be they spiritual or physical or emotional, that stand between us and the proper expression of our faith.

The men in our text, both the crippled man and his four friends, found themselves separated from the Object of their faith by multitudes of people, by the physical demands of rigging a pallet and carrying their needy crippled friend over rough and narrow streets and up a flight of rugged stairs, and finally, by a tiled roof they had to rip apart in order to lower their friend into the Savior’s presence.

The point is that everyone has obstacles that stand in the way of the exercise of his faith. Is it laziness? Is it an erroneous misconception of your goodness? Perhaps there are physical barriers, or transportation issues, or matters of fatigue, or despondency, or the clutter of false beliefs that others have strewn in your life’s path. None of us is without obstacles to the faith.




What did those five men, the four good friends who carried him, and the man who was bring carried, decide to do? They decided to just do what needed to be done, my friends. What else is there to do by faith? You certainly don’t give up. Faith does not quit, but persists, doggedly.

Is there a large throng of people in the way? Then they would have to go the other way. Was there no way to go to the left? Then they would have to go to the right. Was the right hand path blocked with people? Then they would have to come in from behind. Could they not approach the Object of their faith, the Lord Jesus Christ, from this side, from that side, or from the back side? Then they would approach Him from above. Most homes of that day had an outside stairway to the roof, so up they went. Difficult, unwieldy, arduous, precarious, and exhausting, but they did it.

The problem, of course, was that once they were on the rooftop they were still separated from the Savior by a tiled roof. Perhaps they looked at each other with inquisitive looks, and then thought to themselves, “In for a dime, in for a dollar,” or something to that effect. Their faith had driven them this far, so there should be no stopping now. So they began to pull up the roof tiles, totally destroying the roof in the process (if this roof was typical of roofs of that day), until they had opened a hole large enough to lower their friend through.

Theirs was not a wimpy faith, though their friend’s might have been. Theirs was not a weak and sissified faith, though their friend’s could have been. Neither was theirs a faith that did not exert, did not risk, did not reach, though their friend’s faith possibly was very weak. Theirs was an overcoming faith. As First John 5.4 informs us, “this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.” What is an obstacle to real faith anyway? It is nothing, because real faith, even weak faith, pursues, perseveres, pushes, prods, pokes, penetrates, and persists until it has achieved its goal. And what is the goal of faith, even weak faith? To come to Christ!

Mark 2.4-5:


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.



It began as a very lousy day for that man who was sick of the palsy. Every day was, for him, a day of frustration, a day of heartache, a day of forlornness, a day of helplessness, and a day of hopelessness. However, something happened that day when Jesus came to town. For some reason, his friends were not out on the Sea of Galilee. For some reason, they were not working. For some reason, they were thinking of him. And for some reason, they had enough faith to do what it took to get their friend to Jesus.

Had they heard Jesus preach earlier that day and then come to retrieve their friend? Perhaps they had heard Jesus teach or preach before so many people began to gather around Him. Whatever the precise sequence of events, they had heard Jesus or one of His disciples preach, because faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God, Romans 10.17. In any event, we clearly see that Jesus was the Object of their faith, they had to overcome obstacles to their faith, and the overcoming of their faith resulted in the forgiveness of that poor sinner’s sins.

That man’s friends were fixed upon Jesus, they overcame whatever was in the way to get their friend to Jesus, and their faith from start to finish resulted in their friend’s sins being forgiven. For that man’s part who was sick of the palsy, we know that he had faith in Christ, or else he would not have been forgiven. Therefore, we know Jesus was the Object of his faith. As well, his willingness to go through what he had to endure, to overcome the exhausting and arduous ordeal necessary to be lowered down next to the Savior, showed at least some faith on his part, showed that it was saving faith, and showed that it was faith in Jesus Christ.

Oh, my friend, are you not a sinner? Do you not have sins recorded in God’s books in heaven that will be opened come Judgment Day? What does it matter that you have stopped committing this sin or that when the sins you have already committed will damn you? Not that you should not avoid committing sins, but that you desperately need forgiveness. Jesus forgives sins. Notice that we are not told what kinds of sins this man committed that were forgiven. That is because Jesus forgives all kinds of sins, with His only requirement being faith in Him.

Do you have sins that need forgiving? Of course you do. Do you want your sins forgiven? Of course you do. Then come to Jesus for the forgiveness of your sins, and come right now.

[1] Numbers 32.23

[2] C. E. B. Cranfield, The Gospel According To Mark, (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1977), page 97.

[3] Ephesians 2.1; Romans 5.10

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