Forgiveness is the true miracle when Jesus healed the paralytic, but religious people miss the point.

Small Group Discussion Guide for Mark 2:1-12

Related Message: Is Forgiveness a Want or a Need?

It’s very difficult to understand how profoundly paralysis affects the life of a victim and his family until you actually follow a paralytic around for a day.

I have an uncle who has lived as a quadriplegic for almost sixteen years. You can go to his blog to see a little bit of the types of challenges that he faces. Even with modern technology, daily living with that type of disability is a challenge. Visit John’s Blog

He has continued to live his life doing the things that God is calling him to do. However, one striking feature about being a paralytic is that the ordinary tasks of life that we all take for granted require a huge amount of help from other people. Uncle John likes to use his physical condition to start conversations with other people about what it would mean to receive forgiveness from God.

The physical condition of the paralytic is a tangible physical picture of a soul in need of forgiveness. The paralytic is completely dependent on the help of others both physically and spiritually. This is a story of a helpless man who had friends with a huge amount of faith and love to bring him to Jesus. 

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!”

Mark 2:1-12

Notice how Jesus responds. He gives them what they didn’t even know to ask for. At the end of the day, forgiveness is the greatest gift that can be given to any human being. 

Once again, the religious leaders completely miss the point. Rather than celebrate a poor man receiving the greatest gift imaginable, they falsely accuse Jesus of giving something he has no authority to give. The outward miracle that Jesus performs takes a backseat to the miracle of forgiveness.

He shows that he has the authority to heal so that people will know to ask him for forgiveness.

Discussion Questions

  • How do you know that the paralytic exercised faith?
  • In which ways is Jesus’ attitude toward people different than the scribes’?
  • What makes the scribes angry about Jesus’ response?
  • Why do you think Jesus looks at the man’s spiritual needs before he addresses his physical needs?
  • How do the scribes exhibit a hardened heart by their response?
  • In what ways do we often miss the point when helping people with their needs?
  • What purpose does Jesus’ healing serve in this story?
  • How can we incorporate both healing and forgiveness in our posture toward other people?
Jonathan Pugh
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