The Authority of Jesus - Mark 2:1-12

  • If somebody asked you to define the word “authority,” what would you say?
  • Think about your own life, as well as the world we live in, and share some concrete examples of the way you have experienced (or seen) authority used negatively.

When people met Jesus, they encountered a man with authority like no one they had ever seen. He had positional authority as the Son of God and Messiah of Israel. He had moral authority as a man who lived a life of perfect love, righteousness, and integrity. And his authority also included the divine power to accomplish whatever he desired. And in our text this week, Mark shows us that the primary way we are invited to experience Jesus’ power and authority is let it lead us to the cross where Jesus used his power and authority to atone for our sins.

Mark 2:1-12
And when he returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. 2 And many were gathered together, so that there was no more room, not even at the door. And he was preaching the word to them. 3 And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. 4 And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him, and when they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay. 5 And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” 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!”

  • How do you see the theme of authority woven throughout this story? Hint: think about it from the perspective of the four friends, the paralytic, the scribes, and Jesus.
  • How do you see Jesus exercising authority in this account?
  • Why do you think Jesus’ authority to forgive sins is controversial in this story?
  • How is the authority of Jesus different from how the world often exercises authority?
  • In our text today, Jesus exercised his authority to heal the effects of the Fall i.e., he healed the man’s broken body AND forgave his sins. In what areas of your life are you currently longing for Jesus to exercise his healing and saving authority?

  • While Jesus used his authority to heal this man’s body, in a more profound sense, he used his authority to forgive his sins. What habits or practices might help us live more fully and joyfully in the reality that all of our sins are forgiven?
  • Read this quote slowly. What do you notice? What stands out to you?
Even when sin and misunderstanding burden the communal life, is not the sinning brother still a brother, with whom I, too, stand under the Word of Christ?  Will not his sin be a constant occasion for me to give thanks that both of us have experienced the forgiving love of God in Jesus Christ? Thus the very hour of disillusionment with my brother becomes incomparably salutary, because it so thoroughly teaches me that neither of us can ever live by our own words and deeds, but only by that one Word and Deed which really binds us together — the forgiveness of sins in Jesus Christ. When the morning mist of dreams vanish, then dawns the bright day of Christian fellowship (Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together, 28-29)
The same Jesus who has the authority to forgive our sins has also commissioned us to declare this good news to the world. Who is one person you want to intentionally pray for and share this good news with? Share as a group and close by praying for these evangelistic opportunities.

Father God, we praise you that your Son Jesus Christ has all authority in heaven and on earth to forgive our sins, and that this forgiveness was won for us through his death and resurrection. May we ever live in the full enjoyment of your forgiveness and love, and may we be faithful ambassadors, inviting the world into the same. We pray these things in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.