Who can forgive sins but God alone?

MARK 2:1-12

And when [Jesus] returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. 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. And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. 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. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, “Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” 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? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the paralytic— “I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.” 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!”


  • Why was Jesus so hard to reach? Can you list all the things the men did to get their friend close to Jesus?
  • When you face struggles in your life, do you tend to try to deal with alone first? Or do you first seek the help of those in your life that could be like these four friends?
  • Do those four friends heal the paralytic? What is their role? How can we seek to take on that role for others? How can we carry others to Jesus?
  • The scribes, leaders of the Jews, objected to what Jesus said about forgiving the sick man’s sins. They said, “Who can forgive sins but God alone?” How does Jesus choose to respond?
  • Jesus can heal and forgive because he is God—God the Son. Even though we know that, do we still have problems that we think are too big even for Jesus to fix?


Sometimes we may be one of many helping hands; a friend to someone in need. Other times we may be like the one on the stretcher, needing others to carry us when we cannot walk. But we can never be Jesus in this account. Jesus is the only one who can heal, as well as forgive our sins. There is nothing the paralytic does to heal himself, for it is entirely the work of Jesus Christ, who heals, forgives, and then sends this man out. Likewise, we were as good as dead in God’s eyes because of our sin, but Christ has made us alive! Now the greatest thing we can do now is get up, walk, and carry others to Jesus. He has the power, and to him goes the glory.