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Who Can Forgive Sins But God Alone?

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Opening Illustration

Good Morning Church.
Please consider this:
In the opening scenes of the musical Camelot, we see King Arthur standing in a field dressed in the clothes of a common peasant.
To look at him you would have no idea he was king.
In fact, when Guinevere first met Arthur, she didn’t have a clue that he was king over all Camelot.
Arthur was, in fact, king, but his outward appearance gave no evidence of this fact.

Sermon Introduction

Today’s message is called “Who Can Forgive Sins But God Alone?”
We will be focusing on the authority of Jesus.
We are continuing our study of the Gospel of Mark.
So, please turn your Bibles to Mark chapter 2.
We will be examining verses 6 through 12.
From these passages, we will look at three points:
1) Man’s Questioning
2) The Son’s Authority
3) God’s Glory

Opening Prayer

Before we consider the text, please join me in prayer...

Reading of the Text​

Mark 2:6–12 ESV
6 Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, 7 “Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” 8 And immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to them, “Why do you question these things in your hearts? 9 Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk’? 10 But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the paralytic— 11 “I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.” 12 And he rose and immediately picked up his bed and went out before them all, so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!”

1) Man’s Questioning

Verses 6 -7: Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, “Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?”
Keep this in mind.
An Old Testament prophet might declare, “The LORD also has put away your sin” as the Prophet Nathan said to David.
Jesus, however, claims to be able to forgive sins directly, as only God alone can.
Why is God only able to forgive sins?
Remember the story of David’s fall.
When confessing his sin, truly understanding his violation, he makes it clear that he sinned against God directly.
2 Samuel 12:13 ESV
13 David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” And Nathan said to David, “The Lord also has put away your sin; you shall not die.
Psalm 51:4 ESV
4 Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment.
So, the Scribes where actually right in one sense, only God can forgive sins.
Psalm 103:3 ESV
3 who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases,
But the Scribes where wrong in that they thought that Jesus blasphemed.
Which is a death sentence.
John MacArthur said, “The first-century Jews identified three levels of blasphemy.
First, a person was charged with blasphemy if he spoke evil of the law of God.
Stephen and Paul were each wrongly accused of doing this.
A second, more serious, type of blasphemy occurred when a person spoke evil of God directly.
Cursing the name of the Lord, for example, was a crime punishable by death.
A third form of blasphemy, even more heinous than the other two, took place when a sinful human being claimed to possess divine authority and equality with God.
For a mere mortal to act as if he were God was the most egregious offense of all.
It was this form of blasphemy that the Jewish religious leaders charged Jesus with committing.
Eventually, they would use these same accusations to justify His murder”
It was Blasphemy that was the official charge against Jesus by the Sanhedrin that leads to His crucifixion.
However, Jesus didn’t blaspheme because He is God.
Jesus does have the authority to forgive sins.

2) The Son’s Authority

Verses 8 -11: And immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to them, “Why do you question these things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the paralytic— “I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.” And he rose and immediately picked up his bed and went out before them all, so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!”
The title “Son of Man” is Jesus’ favorite term for Himself and used over eighty times in all the Gospels.
This instance is the first of fourteen occurrences in Mark.
Scholars believe Jesus preferred this title as it can both refer to a man or someone divine.
Using this title meant people would have to decide which definition they wanted to give Jesus for themselves.
However, we know that Jesus is God in the flesh and His usage of “Son of Man” is in line with the usage of Daniel of this same title:
Daniel 7:13–14 ESV
13 “I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. 14 And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.
It is far more easier to say, “Your sins are forgiven you.”
No one can prove that sins are actually forgiven since this occurs invisibly.
However, commanding a paralytic to walk would be proof.
Since the paralytic would immediately verify Christ’s command by starting to walk.
We should also note, that although saying one’s sins are forgiven can be said by anyone, the actual act is far more difficult.
How does Jesus plan to forgive the paralytic's sins?
By dying on the cross for his and all His sheep’s sins.
Jesus’ authority is in line with the Father’s will.
John 8:28 ESV
28 So Jesus said to them, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me.
Jesus has authority over His own life and over death itself.
John 10:18 ESV
18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”
Jesus’ authority is greater than anyone else in Scripture because He is the great “I am.”
He goes by the very name of God because He is God in the flesh.
John 8:58 ESV
58 Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.”
He is the exclusive way to reaching the Father.
John 14:6 ESV
6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
The Father gives all authority to Jesus.
John 3:35 ESV
35 The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand.
He is the head of all things and rules all things.
Colossians 2:10 ESV
10 and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority.
The son chooses to reveal Himself to whom He so pleases.
Luke 10:22 ESV
22 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”
Jesus authority encompasses all of heaven and earth.
Matthew 28:18 ESV
18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
The authority of Jesus Christ is seen in his works:
He has authority over nature
He has authority over sin
He has authority over sickness
He has authority over evil
He has authority over death
The use of the phrase “I tell you the truth” emphasizes Jesus Christ’s authority.
“I am” sayings in John’s Gospel emphasizes the divine nature of Jesus Christ’s authority.
Jesus is our Lord
Jesus is the Lord of creation
Jesus is the Lord of the church
Jesus is the Judge
Jesus is our Saviour
Jesus is our Interceder
Jesus is our God
Jesus is our Master

3) God’s Glory

Verse 12: And he rose and immediately picked up his bed and went out before them all, so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!”
After this incredible event took place, the glory went to the Father.
This is the chief end of all that we are called to do.
All we do is to bring glory to our mighty God.
Remember why God forgives sins:
Isaiah 43:25 ESV
25 “I, I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins.
God forgives us our sins for His name sake.
We are immensely blessed and loved due to the byproduct of God’s glory.

Closing Illustration

Charles Haddon Spurgeon once said, “I remember reading once of a person who dreamed a dream when in great distress of mind about religion.
He thought he stood in the outer court of Heaven, and he saw a glorious host marching up the steps of light, singing hymns and bearing the banners of victory.
They passed by him, and entered through the gates, and he heard, in the distance, sweet strains of music.
“Who are they?” he asked.
“Don’t you know?” was the reply.
“They are the goodly fellowship of the Prophets, who have gone to be with God.”
He heaved a deep sigh, as he said, “Alas!
I am not one of them, and shall never be, and cannot enter there.”
By and by there came another band, equally lovely in appearance and equally triumphant, robed in white.
“Who are these?” he cried with wistful expectancy.
“They are the goodly fellowship of the Apostles.”
“Alas,” he said, as they passed within the portal, “I belong not to that fellowship, and I cannot enter there.”
He still waited and lingered, in the hope that he might yet go in; but the next multitude did not encourage him, for they were the noble army of Martyrs.
He could not go with them, nor wave their palm branches.
He waited still, and saw that the next was a company of preachers of the gospel and earnest Christian workers, but he felt he could not go in with them.
Hope of entrance seemed to have gone, when at last, as he walked, he saw a larger host than all the rest put together marching and singing melodiously, and in front walked the woman that was a sinner, and the thief that died upon the cross.
He looked long, and saw there Manasseh, and the like; and when they entered he could see who they were, and he thought, “There will be shouting about them.”
But to his astonishment it seemed as if all Heaven was rent with sevenfold shouts as they passed in.
The angels said to him, These are they that were mighty sinners, saved by mighty grace.”
Then he said, “Blessed be God! I can go in with them.”
So he awoke.
Will you enter the heavenly protals as “a sinner saved by grace?”
Grace is unmerited favor.
Accept Christ, yield to Him, give Him the government of your life, and you will stand and bask in the full radiance of the grace of the King of Heaven eternally.”

Closing of Service

Do not be discouraged by your past sins.
We have a redeemer who can cleanse our filthy rags.
Isaiah 44:22 ESV
22 I have blotted out your transgressions like a cloud and your sins like mist; return to me, for I have redeemed you.
Likewise, if we are to trust in Him, then we can not be ashamed of Him:
Mark 8:38 ESV
38 For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”
So, put your trust in the only Name that saves.
And do not be ashamed of the name of Jesus.
The Name of the One who can cleanse you of your sin.
All the Glory to God.
Amen.
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