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Pastor’s Desk: ‘Are your sins forgiven?’

Posted on Tuesday, July 18, 2023 at 10:20 am

Pastor Chris Baker, Centralia First Baptist Church

It is fascinating how our recollection can play tricks on us, especially when it comes to seemingly insignificant details. Who can forget Darth Vader’s iconic line in The Empire Strikes Back, “Luke, I am your father”? Surprisingly, that is not what he actually says. It’s “No, I am your father.” Our memories can be deceptive even with the goofiest of information.

Consider the Disney version of Snow White. Did you know that the Evil Queen never utters the phrase “mirror, mirror on the wall”? Instead, it’s “magic mirror.” Our memories are indeed peculiar. Take, for instance, the image of the Monopoly character, Rich Uncle Pennybags. Many people vividly remember him wearing a monocle—a one-eyed reading glass. However, that is a false memory; he has never had one.

These broken memories serve as a reminder that our perception of familiar texts can sometimes lead us astray from their intended meaning. The same applies to a familiar Bible passage: Mark 2:1-12.

For a long time, I mistakenly believed that this story was about four friends. The truth is, we have no concrete information about the number of people involved in bringing the paralyzed man to Jesus. At least four individuals carried him upon their arrival, but there could have been more, considering the potential distance they traveled. These men must have required breaks, regardless of their strength or the paralyzed man’s frailty.

Surprisingly, this story isn’t primarily about the friends. It is about Jesus—the one to whom they delivered the lost paralyzed soul. When we look closely, we can unravel the three bold statements about the authority of Jesus that Mark emphasizes, as well as the responses these statements demand.

Mark’s first bold statement asserts that Jesus is God. When Jesus saw their faith, he told the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven” (Mark 2:5). This declaration shocked the scribes present, who questioned Jesus’ authority to forgive sins, a power reserved for God alone. Recognizing their thoughts, Jesus challenged them, asking which was easier—to say, “Your sins are forgiven,” or to say, “Get up, take your mat, and walk”? He then healed the paralytic, proving that he had the authority on earth to forgive sins.