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JESUS CAME TO CALL SINNERS

Mark 2:1-2:17
Key Verse: 2:17

Immanuel! God with us! Thank Jesus who came to us as our Immanuel, which means, ‘God with us.” At this Christmas Sunday, we want to think about what he did on earth as our Immanuel God with us. There are two events in this passage – healing of the paralytic and the calling of Levi the tax collector. This events are written in all three Synoptic gospels – Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Through this event we learn who Jesus is and why he came to this world. May God bless us to meet Jesus personally at this Christmas through his word.

First, the faith of the friends and the paralytic. Look at verse 1. “A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come.” When people heard that Jesus had come, so many gathered that that there was no room left, not even outside the door. While Jesus was preaching the word to them, some men came, bringing to him a paralytic, carried by four of them. They tried their best to get this man to Jesus, but it was not successful because of the crowd. Then they went up into the roof through the stairs and make an opening on the roof above Jesus, and after digging through it, lowed the mat the paralyzed man was lying on. We do not know much about these four men. But we know that they had faith in Jesus according to verse 5. At that time, paralysis was an incurable disease. But they believed that Jesus would heal this man only if they brought him to Jesus. Their faith in Jesus enabled them to overcome all the obstacles and made it possible to bring this man to Jesus. How could they have such a faith? Possibly, they themselves came to Jesus earlier and received Jesus’ healing grace. Probably, they were good friends of this man and loved him so much, and tried their best to help him out of love and compassion. Then God blessed their faith and made them blessing for this helpless one soul. They say this house is possibly Peter’s house. Peter might have been very upset for this sudden intruders, and Peter’s mother-in-law got high fever again. But Jesus saw their faith and blessed their faith by healing this paralyzed man. May God give us such a faith so that we can also be blessing for one precious soul.

Second, Jesus revealed his authority to forgive sins. Look at verse 5. “When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” Here, “their faith” obviously includes the faith of the paralytic. He came to Jesus being helped by his friends because he had faith that Jesus would heal his sickness only if he came to Jesus. This man might have expected that Jesus would heal his paralysis by saying, “Be healed!” But to everyone’s surprise, Jesus said to him “Son, Your sins are forgiven.” Why did he say so?

It is because Jesus knew this man’s real problem. Good doctors can do correct diagnosis of their patients. With correct diagnosis, they can have proper treatment. But it seems not easy to find good doctors these days. But Jesus is the best doctor who have correct diagnosis for any sickness or problems. This man’s real problem was not his physical paralysis, but his sin problem. What kind of life a man with a paralysis could live? He is totally helpless and dependent on others due to his sickness. When he is not helped by others, he become wounded and bitter. In this way he became burden to others. Jesus saw his helplessness due to his spiritual paralysis and heavy burden of sins in his heart. Jesus wanted to give him true blessing and real healing, that is, the salvation of his soul through the forgiveness of his sins. To Jesus, sin is the fundamental problem of all men that must be solved first of all.

Sin can be defined in many ways. But Bible tells us sin is broken relationship with God. Before Adam’s fall, man has a beautiful and intimate relationship with God in perfect union. God was walking with men in the Garden of Eden in the cool of the day, and men enjoyed wonderful fellowship with God. But after Adam’s fall, man’s relationship with God was broken. Man felt far away from God like the prodigal son who went far away from his father. Man needs to come back to God and restore relationship with God through the forgiveness of sins. Jesus was willing to forgive this man’s sin and restore his relationship with God. Restoring our relationship with God through the forgiveness of our sins is the first step in the process of healing. God’s forgiveness of our sins heals wounds in our hearts and restores our soul. Through the forgiveness of sins God saves us from all our sins and accepts us as children of God. Through the forgiveness of sins, we experience true freedom and peace in our soul. That is the reason why Jesus said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” That is the reason we must come to Jesus personally and hear his word, “Son or daughter, your sins are forgiven.”

Look at verse 6. “Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, “Why does this fellow talk like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” They are right in saying that no one can forgive sins except God alone. It is true that no one forgave men’s sin in history. In the Jewish temple, priests only pronounced a person ritually clean through the sacrifice of animals. Even prophets only delivered God’s message of forgiveness to men. No one among men has authority to forgive men’s sin. Only God can forgive sins. The problem of the teachers of the law was that they did not know who Jesus really is. Look at verses 8-10. Let’s read together. “Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, “Why are you thinking these things? Which is easier: to say to the paralytic, “Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins….” What do you think? Which is easier to say? There are different opinions about this question, but I think “Your sins are forgiven” is hard to say because there is no way to prove since it happens in one’s heart, while ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’ can be proven with physical eyes. But Jesus said to the paralytic, “Your sins are forgiven” because Jesus wanted them to know that he has authority on earth to forgive sins. Jesus wanted them to know who he really is.

Colossians 1:15 and 16 shows us about who Jesus really is. “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him, and for him.” According to these verses, Jesus is the Creator God, and he has all authority in heaven and on earth, including the authority to forgive men’s sins. As a Creator God who has all authority, Jesus could do anything he wanted. Someone said, “If I were God, I would destroy the earth three times a day.” But Jesus did not do that. Instead, he chose to save us from our sins and came to this world to forgive sinners. He said in Mark 10:45, “Foe even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” He himself became the Lamb of God and paid the ransom price for our sins so that through his sacrifice he forgave our sins and restored our relationship with God. Jesus has authority to forgive our sins because he became the Lamb of God and gave his life as a ransom sacrifice for men’s sin. . Jesus’ precious blood shed on the cross has power to forgive all our sins and cleanse us from all the guilty consciences. This is the reason Jesus wants all men to know that the Son of Man has authority to forgive men’s sin.

When the paralytic came to Jesus by faith, Jesus forgave his sins first of all, and set him free from the burden of sins. He might have felt like bird flying in the sky. Flood of joy was overflowing in his heart since Jesus came into his heart. Then Jesus said to the paralytic, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” Then he got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. In this way, Jesus did not only save him from all his sins and accepted him as his precious son, but also healed his physical paralysis and made him strong and healthy.

I was a typical sinner with paralysis. My body was not paralyzed, but my heart was paralyzed with fear and burden of sins. Due to my powerlessness, I depended on others, and lived in bitterness because no one seemed to help me. I lived with burden of my sins and became burden to others. But Jesus came to my life with his forgiveness of sins and freed me, “Son, your sins are forgiven!” When I was free from sins, I could get up and take my mat and began to pioneer my life. God changed my life from burden to blessing to others. Thank and praise Jesus who has authority to forgive men’s sins.

Jesus calls Levi the tax collector. Look at verse 13 and 14. “Once again Jesus went out beside the lake. A large crowd came to him, and he began to teach them. As he walked along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” Jesus told him, and Levi got up and followed him.” Levi was a tax collector. At that time, tax collectors were considered public sinners and traitors of his people because they collaborated with Rome to make themselves rich. So people hated them and even did not consider them one of their own people. For some reason, Levi thought money would make him happy. But he was lonely and empty. But Jesus saw his deep sickness due to his sins and called him in his deep compassion. “Follow me.” This was God’s invitation for his salvation. This was Jesus’ calling to heal and restore him and make him one of his disciples in the hope of raising him as St. Matthew, the author of Matthew’s gospel.

Out of deep thanks for Jesus’ grace and his calling, he threw a big party. Look at verse 15 and 16. “While Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s house, many tax collectors and “sinners” were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with “sinners” and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and ‘sinners’?”

Look at verse 17. “On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Here, Jesus revealed himself as a spiritual doctor. As a doctor is needed for the healing of sick people, so Jesus came to call sinners. Jesus considered sinners as spiritually sick people who need Jesus’ healing. Bible declares that all have sinned, and there is no righteous man, not even one. All we have to do is come to Jesus as sinners and humbly ask his mercy. Then Jesus will heal us and restore us as our good doctor. Isaiah 53:5 says, “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.” Jesus is our best doctor because he was pierced for our transgressions and crushed for our iniquities. By his wounds, we are healed. There is healing for all our wounds and pains at the cross of Jesus. There is hope of restoration at the cross of Jesus.

Thank Jesus who came to save us from our sins. “Son, your sins are forgiven.” He saves us through the forgiveness of sins. Jesus forgives all our sins when we humbly come to him and depend on the precious blood of Jesus for our sins. Then he welcomes us as his precious children—sons and daughters of God. Jesus did not only save us, but also he continues to heal us and restore us as our good doctor until we fully restore our love relationship with God and become healthy in both body and spirit, and serve God’s purpose in our life. Thank Jesus who came to call sinners in the hope of restoring us as children of God and disciples of Jesus.

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