Rest and Forgiveness

I meant to post this earlier. This is my sermon from 8/21/2021. It is a little long, but I hope you will enjoy.

Scripture Reading: Mark 2:5 “When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “’Son, your sins are forgiven you.’”

If you had to pick out one passage, one piece of scripture that would best describe Christ and that he is a member of the God head, what passage or group of texts would you choose?

Or perhaps another way of stating the same thing would be as follows.  What Biblical proof would you use to prove the divinity of Christ?

If someone stated, “Yes, but Jesus was just a human being just as you and me and just like anyone else,” how would you respond?  What would you use as one of the most convincing proofs of the divinity of Christ that you could use to prove that Jesus was more than just a mere human being? Just another created entity.

Perhaps some of you would look at the story of transfiguration that we see in Matthew 16:28-17:13; Luke 9:27-36; Mark 9:1-12 and II Peter 1:16-18.

Or perhaps you would use the Passage from Colossians 1:15, 16 in which Paul uses the whole chapter to set up the preeminence of Christ.  But if you are of the Arian way of thinking and you dismiss the Holy Spirit, you will eventually dismiss this passage in Colossians as well believing Colossians 1:15 shows that Christ is created.  But when you add Colossians 1:16 this disproves that way of thinking.  Then the Aerian will go one step further by dismissing that Paul was an inspired writer or called by God to be an apostle.

Let’s quickly look at Colossians 1:15, 16

He is the image of the invisible God, the first born over all creation.

For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.

When you add verse 16 to 15 you cannot have a created being create all. It just cannot work.  A created being cannot create himself and still create everything that has been created. Paul is attempting to establish that fact that the incarnate Christ is the creator of all things in heaven and earth. He is first born of all creation, because he has taken the place of Adam becoming the second Adam.

Others may say that the proof that Jesus is divine is in the Resurrection of Lazarus we see in John chapter 11.  According to the story, there is no doubt that Lazarus is dead, and yes Jesus has the power to resurrect him.   

But then I have to ask you, what do you do with Peter raising Tabitha, and Paul Uticas? Were they also divine?  No of course not. Yes, certainly Jesus claimed to be divine, a claim Peter and Paul never made regarding themselves.  But they both claimed Jesus was divine. But can you really use that to show the divinity of Christ?

How about at the cross where Jesus forgave those who crucified Him?  Who in such circumstances could offer forgiveness to those persecuting Him? 

What an incredibly wonderful thing for Jesus to do for a people who are rejecting Him as their King.  As Jesus, He can truly understand their process of reasoning as to why they feel this needs to be done.  Therefore, you need to know that God is not against you.  He forgives you.

To quote a specific verse, there is John 1:1.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

An incredible verse for John to start his Gospel with. 

Paul as we saw in Colossians 1 Does something similar.  Then he does it again in Hebrews 1:1-4. What a beautiful passage Hebrews 1:1-4 is.  But what did Jesu say about himself.  What clues did Jesus leave as to who he really is.

The reason I am asking the question is that we had one clue, one statement by Christ as to who He really was about three weeks ago, when in a sermon we looked at Matthew 11:28, the passage about rest.  Jesus said, “Come to Me all you who labor and are heaven laden and I will give you rest.” 

To restless, sinful humanity, no one can give you rest or offer rest like God can.  So we see in Matthew 11:28 a Divine command that it is only through Christ we can find true rest for our sin sick soul.

To continue that passage, he states, (Matthew 11:29, 30), “Take My yoke upon you and Learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 

For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

And the second passage or statement by Christ just as to who truly He was, comes from Mark chapter 2 when Jesus forgives sins.

Why? Because both stories deal with the deepest of human needs, “Rest and Forgiveness.”

Certainly, there are other teachers in this world other gurus that will say, follow me and do this and you will receive inner satisfaction or a deeper peace.  And indeed, they can help, but they cannot give the type of rest Jesus is describing nor can they grant you forgiveness.

But the truth is there are other deeper human needs that no other human being can satisfy. One of them is inner peace which brings rest and the second one is forgiveness. 

I want to make a very specific point before we begin this study.  The priests in the Old Testament could not grant forgiveness.  They can only illustrate through the Sanctuary system, what heaven is doing or will do on our behalf.  So, they were not the ones who could forgive the sins of the people.  Only God could forgive sins and all who were present knew and understood that only God could forgive sins.

The story we will be dealing with from Mark 2 are verses 1-12.

So, the first question we must ask ourselves is, What is Mark trying to say? What is it that he wants us to see and know about Jesus?

When we look back at chapter 1, there are two stories of healing that take place on the Sabbath.  The first is the man with the Unclean spirit we see in verse 21-28 and the healing of Peter’s Mother-in-law in verses 29-35.  These stores along with the rest of the chapter are arranged to show us the sympathy of Jesus. 

They are there so we can understand how Jesus felt about the lives of the people around him. So, the immediate context of Mark 2 is the sympathy of Jesus toward others.

So, when we come to Mark 2 it is evident that Jesus is teaching.  Let’s read verse 1 together.

“And again He entered Capernaum after some days, and it was heard that He was in the house.”

There are two options as to how we look at this text. Either he is in Peter’s house, or he is in His own house.  If Jesus is in His own house, that gives a very interesting twist to the story. 

You might say, “Hey wait, Jesus didn’t have a house! After all, didn’t he say, “Foxes have holes and birds have nests, but the son of man has nowhere to lay his head.”  Yes, he did!  Then why would the text say, He is in his own house? 

Let’s set the sequence of events.  This should help us better answer this question.  In Mark 1:21-28 Jesus heals a man with an unclean spirit in the synagogue on the Sabbath.

Upon leaving the Synagogue, he heads to Peter’s house and heals Peter’s Mother-in-Law (Mark 1:29-31).  After the Sabbath is over Jesus heals many, and spends much of the evening teaching the people.  In verse 34 of Mark chapter 1 it says. Then He healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast our many demons and he did not allow the demons to speak because ???? they new him.

On the morning of the first day of week, Jesus was up before everyone else, as it says in verse 35, up before daylight and He prayed. 

In verse 38 we see that Jesus said to His disciples. “Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also, because for this purpose I have come forth.   Vs. 39: And he was preaching in their synagogues throughout all Galilee, and casting out demons.”

What is being described is Jesus first Galilean tour.

But we see in verse 40 that not only was he casting out demons, but he was also healing the lepers.  Here it comes in verse 41.  If you are not looking for it, you will miss it.  What does the verse say about Jesus?   “He was moved by compassion.”  That phrase, He was moved by compassion, or sympathy, sets up everything that happens in the rest of the book of Mark. 

Jesus heals the leper with strict instructions to tell no one how he was cured by Leprosy.  Go to Jerusalem and at the temple go show yourself to the priest and let them pronounce you clean.

The man proclaimed to all the Jesus had healed him. 

This caused Jesus to temporarily cut his work in Galilee short.  Causing him to go to the regions around Galilee that were not influenced so heavily by the Jews. 

Now, as chapter 2 opens, Mark says, “And again He entered Capernaum after some days, and it was heard that he was in the house. 

Only Mark mentions this detail.  What Mark is saying is the equivalent to staying “Jesus was at home.” 

There is little doubt that this was Peter’s home. Yet I believe Mark had a broader take on this by literally saying “in the house” for Jesus was about to blow the roof off the house, off the of Israel, His home on earth.  Jesus had been teaching and healing among the gentiles that lived on the eastern side of Galilee, and now he has returned to the house of Israel.

We know the story well, Jesus is in the house, the house is packed with religious leaders, and religious authorities all intent upon arguing and finding fault with Jesus. 

In Mark’s account, four strong men come carrying a man on a stretcher that was a Paralytic.

Because they cannot get in to see Jesus, they open a hole in the roof to let this man down to be healed. 

Vs. 5: “When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, ‘Son your sins are forgiven you.’”

Before we go on, it is important for us to understand the reasoning, the thinking behind both his disciples, and all the religious authorities who are crowding the room and those who wanted to see Jesus. 

In last weeks sermon we saw this same reference to sickness.  In fact, lets turn to John 9:1, 2 and read it together.

Now as Jesus passed by, He saw a man who was blind from birth.

And His disciples asked him saying, “Rabbi, who sinned, and this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

This short passage gives us tremendous insight into Jewish thinking, especially the belief and reasoning of the religious leaders.  Blindness, Leprosy, being paralyzed, deaf, withered hand, or any of the numerous sicknesses and diseases were caused by sin.  But not just sin, your own sin and even the sin of your parents.  Sickness and disease are strictly linked to your personal spiritual condition.  If you are physically sick you are spiritually sick.

Jesus’s answer to the disciple’s question comes in verse 3. “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him.”

In Mark 2:5 when Jesus saw the faith of this man and those that let him down through the roof, Jesus blows the roof off the house of Israel by saying. “Son, your sins are forgiven you.”  

For the religious leaders, the disciples and anyone else crowed into the house is thinking, “wait, what? Did this man just forgave his sins?”  How can this be?  It is clear to see, this man is in this condition because he is a sinner and not just a sinner but a bad sinner.  And this Man just forgave his sins. 

So, they are all afraid to say out loud what they are all thinking.  They are thinking, VS. 7: “Why does this man speak Blasphemies like this? Who can forgive sins but God alone?”

Jesus perceives in his heart, what these religious leaders are thinking so he responds in verse 9.

Let’s actually start with the last half of verse 8.

“Why do you reason about these things in your hearts? 9 Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise, take up your bed and walk?’”

What an ingenious way to blow the roof of the house of Israel.  “Which is easier,” he asks, “to say your sins are forgiven you or to say, arise, take up your bed and walk.”

Although they considered it Blasphemy they all knew it was easier to say your sins are forgiven than to command him to take up his bed and walk because taking up his bed and walking was never going to happen because he was such a sinner. 

To command him to take up his bed and walk would take a miracle for him to actually do that, and they all knew that just would not happen because he was a sinner.  So they reasoned, of course, to forgive sins is easier, because there would be no visible sign that forgiveness happened because, well this sinner wasn’t going to walk anytime soon was he.  And this Jesus cannot forgive sins, for he is just a mere man. 

Notice what Jesus says in response to this line of thinking by the people, disciples and religious leaders. 

In verse 5 he specially saw the faith of this man and those who brought him and responded to the needs of the Paralytic by saying, “Son, your sins are forgiven you.”

Now watch as Jesus blows the roof off the house of Israel. 

He has just asked them the question, “which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, “Arise, take up your bed and walk?’

VS. 10: But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins” – He said to the paralytic,

VS. 11 “I say to you, arise, take up your bed and go to your house.”

VS. 12: Immediately he arose, and took up the bed, and went out in the presence of them all, so that all were amazed and glorified God saying, “we never saw anything like this.”

Jesus blows the roof off the house of Israel by forgiving sins and then giving the proof that he has the power to forgive sins because he commanded the man to stand up and walk. And as the text says, immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went out in the presence of them all.

For all that are there, the proof in the fact that this man’s sins are forgiven is that he got up and walked.

Jesus, the Son of Man, the master teacher illustrates what He could not publicly say.  If he had come straight out and said, “Hey I am the Messiah,” the people’s idea of what the Messiah was to do would have gotten in the way of Christ’s actual mission.  Therefore, he illustrated through this paralytic that he was the Messiah and blew the roof of the house of Israel.  He gave them a whole new understanding of who the messiah is and what His mission was about.

In Galatia the Galatian church is struggling.  Because of the Judaizers and their teachings. This is magnified by the fact they are being persecuted because of their refusal to perform the rights of emperor worship. These factors were causing the former pagan now Christians to waver in their decision to follow the gospel of Jesus.  There was danger of them going back to Paganism.

They were in danger of losing their love for Christ.  Paul could now use this illustration and last week’s illustration from John 9 and 10 along with the story from two weeks ago which came from Matthew 11:28-30 to show the Galatian people, that God does indeed love them in that He sent his son, who has the power to give rest and forgive of sins.

“Can you get forgiveness and rest from your pagan gods,” asks Paul? No! Rest and forgiveness come through Christ who called me to be an apostle to proclaim the gospel to the gentiles who with the cast offs of the Jewish faith are called into the one true fold of God.  Because only He can grant rest. Only He can grant forgiveness. Only He can heal us from our infirmities.  And we follow because we hear and know His voice, long for His rest and are in need of His forgiveness.   

No Eloquence and No Speak

“Then Moses said to the LORD, O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither before nor since You have spoken to Your servant; but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.”

You can see the patience of God running a little thin. How can we say this? Look at verse 11 of chapter 4.  So the LORD said to him, “who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes the mute, the deaf, the seeing, or the blind? Have not I, the LORD? Now therefore, go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall say.”

Hey Moses, what did I do for you?  I turned your rod into a serpent and protected you from the serpent when you picked it up by the tail.  You stuck your hand in your bosom and got leprosy. Then I cured you in the same way. And now you dare to think I will not protect you and give you the words to speak after all, who created your mouth.

Christ used this same line of reasoning when he was on earth.  Look at the miracles he performed. He healed the mute, the deaf, the blind and even raised people from the dead.  How then could they not believe in Christ?  But we are way ahead of ourselves.  Moses has seen these two miracles, and Yahweh is asking.  Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes the mute, the deaf, the seeing, or the blind? Have Not I the LORD?  Moses could answer yes to all these questions. So God continues by saying. “Now therefore, go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall say.”

Moses, what are you doing.  After all this, in verse thirteen, you say, “O my LORD, please send by the hand of whomever else You may send.”

“So the anger of the LORD was kindled against Moses, and He said; ‘Is not Aaron the Levite your brother? I know that he can speak well. And look, he is also coming out to meet you. When he sees you, he will be glad in his heart.’”

In verse fifteen, God gives us an illustration of what would be illustrated in the life of Christ.  “Now you (Moses) will speak to him (Aaron your brother) and put the words in his mouth. And I will be with your mouth and with his mouth. And I will teach you what you shall do.” So, he shall be your spokesman to the people. And he himself shall be as a mouth (prophet) for you, and you shall be to him as God. And You shall take his rod in your hand, with which you shall do the signs.

From Yahweh to prophet, this form of communication remained in effect throughout the rest of the Old Testament. Perhaps a better way of stating this is, From God the Father to the Pre-incarnate Christ to the prophet, and from the prophet to the people.  God illustrates his chosen method of communication, which will hold true throughout the rest of the Old Testament. 

Previous to this, God communicated directly to Noah, Abraham, Isaac, or Jacob.  But now, the people of Israel were about to become a nation.  They were to become a nation to bring all the nations of the world back together again (Genesis 12:1-3). So, for the most part, God chose to communicate to Israel through Prophets and then through the people of Israel to the other nations.  As we can see, this did not work. It was not a failure on God’s part, but man’s part.

In the four gospels of the New Testament, God the Father chose to speak directly to the people through Jesus.  Jesus became God’s mouthpiece to communicate directly to the people to dispel the unbelief and superstition surrounding who God really is. After his resurrection and ascension, God speaks to people through the power of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit changes the lives of you and me to reflect Christ’s love to others.  Then, in turn, this is how God still communicates with His people today.  Like Israel of old, he is using his church of today to carry the message to others.

Verse 16, “So Moses went and returned to Jethro his father-in-law, and said to him, ‘Please let me go and return to my brethren who are in Egypt, and see whether they are still alive.’ And Jethro said to Moses, ‘Go in peace.’”

Now the LORD said to Moses, in Midian, “Go return to Egypt; for all the men who sought your life are dead” (Exodus 4:16-19). 

So Moses departed (Exodus 4:20).

What if They Will Not Believe

“Then Moses answered and said, ‘But suppose they will not believe me or listen to my voice;’ suppose they say, ‘The LORD has not appeared to you.’”

Moses’s reluctance is understandable.  When he was in Egypt, he lived in comfort, wearing soft clothes, and lived in the lap of luxury.  Moses fled from Egypt and had now been gone forty years.  The people of Midian had did not speak the same language as the Egyptians.  By being a sheep farmer, there would have been little contact between himself and the Egyptians. So Moses had some reasons for concern.  Would he still be able to talk with the Egyptians? Would his life be in danger even though all those who sought him were now dead? Could he trust in God?

The Lord said to Moses. “What is in your hand?” Moses responded, “A rod.”  Logically the rod would be a shepherd rod or staff used to guide, direct, and protect the sheep.  God then directs Moses to cast his rod upon the ground. “He cast it on the ground, and it became a serpent, and Moses fled from it” (Exodus 4:3b).

The word used for the serpent, in this case, is “naw-khawsh.” Naw-khawsh means serpent or snake. The word does not specify the type of serpent or snake it was.  The implication from the text is it must have been poisonous because Moses attempts to flee from it.  We will see later in the Exodus story that the word used for serpent will momentarily change.  With that change will come a completely different meaning.  But for now, Moses threw his rod or staff down. It became a serpent, and he began to run from it.

God said, “Moses, reach out your hand and take it by the tail.”   You don’t grab a serpent by the tail, for when you do, it will turn its head toward you and bite you.  But the instructions by God was to “Reach out your hand and take it by the tail.” Moses did as commanded, and it once again became a rod (Exodus 4:4).  God continued talking, “That they may believe that the LORD God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has appeared to you.”

God then instructed Moses to put his hand in his bosom, and when he took it out behold, his hand was leprous, white like snow. This must-have scared Moses terribly.  Leprosy was a long, slow death, and now Moses had it.  But God was not through.  “Moses, again, place your hand in your bosom. Moses did, and when he again removed his hand, it was healed.  The leprosy was gone.

“Then it will be, if they do not believe you, nor heed the message of the first sign, that they may believe the message of the latter sign. And it shall be, if they do not believe even these two signs, or listen to your voice, that you shall take water from the river and pour it on the dry land. The water which you take from the river will become blood on the dry land (Exodus 5:8, 9).

Why these two signs?  Why would God have Moses pick up a serpent by the tail and cause his land to become filled with leprosy?

Moses has resisted answering God’s call to lead God’s people out of Egypt.  A humble sheepherder has replaced the courage of Moses’s youth.  God had Moses trained in Egypt for such a task and then refined him as he leads sheep.  But at 80, Moses no longer felt qualified.  Therefore, God was trying to show Moses that He, the Great I AM that I AM, will protect you in all ways.  The poison of Egypt and the sickness of the people will not affect you.  I will be with you and will guide you and direct all that you do.  Yes, the Israelites who have been groaning under the burden of sin might reject you.  The choice is theirs, and if they do, that is not upon you, it is upon Me as their God.

The last part of verse 9 is very interesting.  “The water which you take from the river will become blood on the dry land.” If they reject you, Moses, it is on them and their choice. Since blood is the source of life, by pouring the water from the Nile upon the dry land and it turning to blood would indicate that these people have made up their minds to die in the country of Egypt rather than to live in the land which I promised to their Father Abraham.  They have chosen to be slaves rather than enjoy the freedom that trusting in God brings. 

Moses should have gotten the meaning himself. It should have woken him up. But once more, he has an excuse. An excuse we will look at in our next post.

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