Alfred Place Baptist Church

2:1-12 Jesus Christ Has Authority To Forgive Sins

Mark 2:1-12 “A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. So many gathered that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them. Some men came, bringing to him a paralytic, carried by four of them. Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus and, after digging through it, lowered the mat the paralyzed man was lying on. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven.’ Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, ‘Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?’ Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this is what they were hiding 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 . . . .’ He said to the paralytic, ‘I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.’ He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, ‘We have never seen anything like this!'”

This well-known incident in the life of our Lord is recorded for us in the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke. Even for those of you who do not yet believe that the Bible is wholly inspired and reliable there is a ring of truth about these words. The whole thing, the way the man was brought to Jesus, the opening up of the roof, the dialogue with the teachers of the law, the healing of the man, the general amazement in the crowd of onlookers – all such events speak of eyewitnesses who had been present and never forgot that day. This really happened. These words were truly spoken by the Lord. This man was transformed by him, and because this is true there is a line that goes directly from that house in Capernaum to our house of worship today. What happened there is enormously important for you. We are urging you today to come away from the shadow lands in which you are wasting your existence and enter the bright reality of this incredible person Jesus Christ who once stood in our world and breathed our air, a man who is bone of our bones and flesh of our flesh.

One presumes that this event happened to Jesus in his own home. He had moved from Nazareth to Capernaum at the beginning of his public ministry a few months earlier. He was presumably temporarily renting this accommodation. The Lord had been preaching in a number of places and then “he had come home” (v.1). The news quickly spread that he was back, and, as crowds gather outside the gates of famous people today, these people arrived at Jesus’ front door and waited to hear him. I am saying that the four men made a hole in the roof of what was Jesus’ own house.

1. HOW NEEDY THIS MAN WAS.

We are told just one thing about him and that is that he was a paralytic. Nothing else. We are not told his name, his age, his marriage status, the job he once had. We are given information about one thing, that he could not move. Nothing else was as important as that. Nothing else was relevant. It didn’t matter if he were a fisherman named Benjamin whose eyes were brown and he had a wife and three children. He could not move. Do you realise his pain? The cramp, the stiffness of the joints, the bedsores, and all the indignities of his condition. Think of his despair. Nothing lay ahead of him but more suffering and death. He remembered a time when he played as a boy, and worked hard, but now he could do nothing and was a burden to everyone. What a wretched life. He could not wake up in the morning and say, “Today I shall get up off my bed.” He was a paralytic. He could not say, “I have had enough of this and so I shall send for the doctor and he will give me the wonder-drug.” There was no one who could cure him. He was a paralytic and it was an incurable disease. Men use the word ‘paralytic’ today just in one context, when they are sniggering about a drunkard, unable to control himself, finding it impossible even to stand erect, swaying, staggering and helpless. His acquaintances mock him – “he’s paralytic” – but we don’t laugh at the effects of sin, any more than we would laugh at this poor man carried about on a form. There but for the grace of God lie I.

The Bible uses the concept of inability when it talks of your own helplessness as a sinner: “the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God” (Roms.8:7&8). There is a hostility to the gospel in the hearts of men. We all recognise that. A thirty year old woman came to me in Johannesburg last week and told me that when she was 18 she and her mother had been staying in Port Meirion and on the Sunday morning her mother had driven them sixty miles south to Aberystwyth to attend the church here. “You were standing there and telling us that we were sinners, and that we had to believe in Jesus Christ, and I hated it all, in fact I would not talk to my mother all the journey home. Then some years ago I was converted and my husband is a pastor, and today he tells people that they are sinners and must come to Jesus and they are as hostile as I was the first time I heard you preach.”

The New Testament insists that everyone is hostile, but it says something more than that, that we are unable: we cannot submit to him, and we cannot please God. When the Lord says, “Come to me,” then no man can go to him except the Father which sent Jesus draws the sinner to Christ. When God says love your neighbour as yourself, or forgive those who have offended you seventy times, or turn the other cheek when you’ve been hit, then not only are our hearts are hostile to such a message but our sinful natures find it impossible to act like that – as impossible as a paralytic getting off his bed and walking. “The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned” (I Cor. 2:14). You can tell him John 3:16 but by nature he cannot understand such simple truths. You say to him, “Come to Jesus and he will give you rest,” but he is as helpless as this paralytic. That man in Capernaum could not ‘believe himself better.’ He had no inward resources at all to change himself. He was a paralysed and on his way to the grave.

2. HOW BLESSED WAS HE TO HAVE FOUR FRIENDS.

We infer that they were his friends. They are always referred to as his friends, but Matthew, Mark and Luke call them ‘some men’ (v.3). There was a great preacher, and theologian, and evangelist named Charles Haddon Spurgeon who died over a hundred years ago. Through his ministry the whole true church of Jesus Christ was blessed. One day as a lost teenager in a snowstorm in Colchester he went to a Primitive Methodist Church and ‘some man’ preached and told him to look to Jesus Christ and be saved. No one knows who that preacher was – some man or other who knew the power of Jesus Christ to save sinners. Two weeks ago today I was preaching in Johannesburg in a Methodist church and Dudley the pastor there told me of his restoration after long years of backsliding. He was on vacation in London, and he decided to go to the famous Speakers’ Corner in Hyde Park and listen to the orators and political agitators. But ‘some man’ was preaching the gospel, his face bearing the marks of having lived years without God and without hope, but now he knew the power of the livingness of Christ. An educated man began to interrupt him: “You are ruining my Sunday morning stroll with your nonsense,” he cried. The preacher was unperturbed and continued to speak of the Lord Jesus. “We don’t need religion today,” he said, “this is a scientific age. I myself am a graduate of Cambridge University.” “Sir,” the old preacher replied, “I envy you having gone to university. I never went to Cambridge or any college, but I have been to Calvary.” Those words are so artless, and almost a cliche in our circles, but God’s Spirit used that phrase of ‘some man’ to humble and restore Dudley and put him back in the gospel ministry. There are thousands of such examples of unsung anonymous men and women whose identities we can never discover but who have known something of the living power of Jesus Christ. God used them to bring others to his Son who then saved them.

Consider this group of men. There seems to have been more than four who came with the paralytic to the Lord Jesus, but four, in turn, carried him. However many there were they were all as helpless to heal this man as he was to heal himself. They had no medical competence, and no supernatural powers of miracle working. There were no drugs nor treatment nor doctors they were aware of which could help their friend. What did they have? One great fact. They had knowledge of Jesus Christ. They have gained this in the last weeks by what they had seen and heard. Had they been to his meetings? Had they met people whose lives had been transformed by him? Had they heard from people whom they considered trustworthy and sensible who told them plainly and simply what Jesus taught, that we had to repent because of our sins and believe in him. They also told of his extraordinary power to heal any and every kind of illness. Somehow they were told of the reality, power and wisdom of this Jesus who was living in Capernaum. Do you have this knowledge? Have you read the New Testament? Have you read this gospel of Mark? Do you come here on Sunday mornings and evenings and listen to the preaching of Jesus? Do you know of Jesus of Capernaum who lived on this earth two thousand years ago, the promised Messiah, sent from heaven to be the Saviour of his people? The companions of this man knew this. What did they know?

i] They knew that Jesus was able to heal a man of leprosy, and Peter’s mother-in-law of a fever, and that when the people from the community had brought to him people sick with various diseases that he had healed every one of them. “We cannot heal him, and he cannot heal himself, but Jesus Christ is able to heal him,” they said.
ii] More than that, they knew that Jesus was willing to heal men because they had been told of the leper who said to him, “If you are willing you can make me clean,” (Mk. 1:40) and Jesus had said to him, “I am willing. Be clean!” Though he was the Son of God he was ready to stretch out his hand and hold a leper and cleanse him. There was no superiority and disdain. “If we make our way to him his cruel disciples won’t turn us back and bid us depart. He himself will meet our friend. Jesus is willing.” What wonderful knowledge they had, that the Lord was able to heal and willing to heal their friend.
iii] But more than that, they knew where Jesus was. He was in Capernaum in his home. We know where Jesus Christ is today. He is in the midst of the throne of God. He is in heaven, all his sufferings in this world are over. He lives who once was dead. His body has been raised from the grave and glorified. He has conquered our last enemy death. It does not have the last word, and he has ascended to the place from whence he came thirty years earlier. He is the delight of heaven, the theme of the praises of men and angels. We know that that is where Christ is. More than that, he is here, when we gather in his name, that is, to have dealings with him, to study his word, to celebrate his great redemption, to break bread and baptise, to learn how we may love and serve him better – then he is here. Where there are two meeting in Christ’s name then there are three, and when there are three there are four. That is why we cannot stay away from the two services on Sunday, and the midweek meeting. What an honour to meet with Jesus Christ. What a snub to deliberately absent ourselves from his presence – “You may be there, Son of God, but don’t count on me being there.”

Now if Jesus were in one part of this building we would all want to be near him. If he were here at the front then we would all come to the front to meet with him. I would never have to say, “Now I want you to get out of your seats and come to the front.” If the Son of God were here near the preacher and not there in the pews then wild horses would not keep you from coming into his presence. But the Lord is also near you, in your ears and in your mind and in the hearing of the word we preach which you believe. He is the one who has brought you here and he is the one dealing with you and speaking to you now in a still small voice. The Lord Jesus is here, and that is why people say to you, “Come to church with me on Sunday.” It is not that we are beautiful exciting people who have a beautiful exciting preacher. We are very ordinary people and you will find a time will come when we will let you down. We don’t justify that, but we are sinners. But the Lord Jesus will never let you down, and he is the one you are meeting with now.

So these four men had knowledge that Jesus Christ was able to heal their friend, and willing to heal him, and they knew that he was in Capernaum. But there was something more than that, God had given them a strength which he had removed from their companion. God had discriminated in his sovereign grace, giving them the energy and determination to take this paralytic, whose energy he had removed, to the Lord Jesus. “The only difference between us and him is the grace of God,” they could have said. They determined to pick him up and bring him where Jesus was. One of them might have said, “he aint heavy he’s my brother.” So they picked up this helpless man and carried him to where Jesus lived. But when they arrived in Jesus’ street they saw they had a problem: “so many gathered that there was no room left, not even outside the door” (v.2). The Saviour had been back a few hours from preaching. He had barely had time to make himself a meal when people came along wanting him to teach them the meaning of life, how they could be saved, who God is and how they could be certain of going to heaven. He was sitting in his little house and it was packed with listeners, and so was the passage, the doorway, the windows and the street outside. No one would give way. They were craning their ears to hear him and all they said to the four men carrying the paralysed man was, “Back off! Hush!”

But these men knew that Jesus was able to save their friend, and willing to save him and they were determined to bring him to the Lord. Then they used every bit of ingenuity and initiative that creatures made in the image of God, motivated by love for their friends, are able to show. The only way into the presence of Christ was from above. They somehow got onto the roof carrying this sick man, and Mark tells us that they dug through the roof, and Luke tells us that they removed the tiles, and so somehow or other they made a substantial hole in Jesus’ roof, right above where he was speaking, and through this hole they lowered the mat on which the paralyzed man was lying, and thus they delivered him into the presence of Jesus.

These men who came to the Lord had faith, didn’t they? God tells us that in these verses. It was a faith that the paralytic shared in. He could have said, “No way! You are not taking me to that fake!” He didn’t. He heard the stories, maybe even meeting other healed people. He was told why they were taking his pain-wrecked body on this believing enterprise. We are told that the Lord himself noticed this: “Jesus saw their faith” (v.5).

How important is that? It is all important. Without faith it is impossible to please God. Without faith they would not have considered Jesus Christ. They would not have had the stubborn determination to bring their friend to him through all those obstacles. Faith is knowing that Jesus is able and willing to save, and our lives showing we believe this by our actions. Faith without such works is dead. Faith works through love. It is faith that obtains promises and achieves righteousness. Such faith can subdue kingdoms and power structures. Paralysis and helplessness and distance and crowds are all overcome by the Jesus we trust in.

So what is this passage teaching us? Bring your friends to the Christ who reigns in heaven’s glory! Tell him about them. Mention them in his presence. “Here I am again Lord and I just want to bring my dear brother to you. He is in great need. the gospel is foolishness to him and he cannot please you by his life but I want to tell you about him. You can change him.” Bring them to Jesus. Bring your family to him. Bring the people named on the prayer list or the prayer letter to him. We will gather on Tuesday night and we will bring people to Christ.

More than that, invite them to the services here because we know that he is here. Don’t let their first refusals put you off. Many of have read my biography of Ernest Reisinger and you will remember that 52 times in the first year after they had met as workmates Elmer Albright invited Ernie to come to church, and 52 times Ernie had an excuse and declined the invitation. Then finally he came. Then he didn’t return for weeks, but then he turned up and never stopped coming. You understand that all this time Wilmer was bringing Ernie to Jesus Christ at the throne of grace? His wife said to Ernie when he finally met her, “So you are Ernie Reisinger. My husband would often come home in the evenings and though I had his dinner ready he would go straight to the bedroom and I would go down the passage and listen outside his door and I would hear him praying for this ‘Ernie’ and I would pray that you would either move, or get converted.” We bring everyone to the feet of Jesus. So we have looked at the need of this man and the faith of his companions.

3. THE GRACE OF JESUS CHRIST.

So what was the response of the Lord Christ? It was threefold:

i] THE LORD MADE A DECLARATION.

“When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven.'” (v.5). He looked at the four faces peering down from the hole in the roof and the expectancy of the paralytic lying there, and the Lord understood the energy and belief evidenced in bringing this man to him. Then Christ was able to say to him, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” Isn’t that an unexpected word? Maybe you think that this is a disappointing word. Many would expect Jesus to look up and say, “Well done boys. You have done your part and now I will do mine,” and heal him pronto. 50% man and 50% God. That is the way many think new life comes to men. God waits for us to act and when we have he can do something. But the Lord Jesus puts the whole dynamics of this situation on a new level. This man is sick, and he needs to be healed, but that is not his primary need. Even if he gets healed then one day in the future he will contract another illness and on that occasion he will die. This man’s greatest need was not deliverance from paralysis but eternal life. Your greatest need too is eternal life. Think of the most memorable words in the Bible: “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life” (Jn. 3:16). We are going to die. Is there life beyond the grave? If a man die shall he live? Jesus rose from the dead on the third day. Lazarus is raised from his sepulchre. The widow of Nain’s son is delivered from the cart taking his boy to the cemetery. Jairus’ daughter is raised from her deathbed. Christ constantly shows that he is more powerful than death. It is he, not the grave, which has the final word. We believe in the resurrection of the body and eternal life.

But you who will live for ever, what will you do with your guilt? Will you take your sins into eternity with you? You remember Hamlet and that famous soliloquy, “To be or not to be.” In the Laurence Olivier film of the Shakespeare’s play the prince is holding a dagger. His life is utterly miserable and he is contemplating ending it all. He hesitates: what if after death there is a sleep, and in that sleep there are dreams, and what if in those dreams his sins come and haunt him for ever and ever. What if death is a wretched eternal nightmare, with the phantoms of his guilt pursuing him for ever? And “conscience doth make cowards of us all” he says. Laurence Olivier drops the dagger from the battlements of the Danish castle. “If I was certain that after death I would be just snuffed out like a candle is extinguished . . . and if I knew that when I breathed my last I would go from vibrant being to non-existence, wiped out completely . . . nothingness – that, my best hope – then I might contemplate ending my life, but what if I will take the memories of my life, and the sins of my life, and the guilt of my one life with me into eternity, and for ever and ever and ever unforgiven sins scream at me with never any remission?” Conscience makes cowards of us all.

If I am to live as long as God himself then my first need is forgiveness for my sins, that I may face eternity pardoned by God, reconciled to God, washed and cleansed for ever. That is far more important than living a long life, or being healed and healthy. Can my sins be forgiven? Is there mercy with God? How can he be just and straight, a God who hates sin, and yet cover all the guilt of mankind? How can he shrug his shoulders at terrible wickedness? How can he be just and yet the justifier of sinners? That is the greatest question in the Bible. Its answer is ‘at great eternal and divine cost.’ The sending of God the Son into the world. The incarnation in Mary’s womb. The humiliation of the Lord of glory. The bloody agony of Gethsemane. The laceration of the scourging. The nails through hands and feet, and the darkness and anathema of Golgotha is the price paid by God. The coldness of the tomb where Jesus’ body lies is the cost. Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!

The very nature of God requires atonement to be made that forgiveness can be effectual. That is how God is. Not a God who shrugs, and turns a blind eye. Not an indifferent and implacable God, but one who loves and redeems at such cost to himself, sparing not his own Son. The Lord Jesus is speaking of all this when he cuts through this man’s pain, and frustration, and helplessness, and despair. “Your sins need to be forgiven, don’t they? And I tell you because you have come to me for mercy they are forgiven.” The Lord is speaking in the light of his great mission into the world not to be served but to serve, and give his life a ransom for many. He is speaking in the knowledge that one day soon, his redemption completed, he would cry “It is finished.” The salvation of all his people would have been accomplished on Golgotha, and then forgiveness of sins in his name would be preached in all the nations of the earth. That is what the Lord Christ was sure of as he said to this man, “Your sins are forgiven.”

Have you known this? Do you have the inner witness of the Spirit to your own soul that though your sins have been many and like scarlet, Jesus Christ, because he loves you, has taken all your guilt and shame and borne it in his body on the cross, so that your sins are forgiven, all your sins, your past sins, your present sins, your future sins, your worst sins, those concerning which you are still most tender: that sin of which you are tempted to think, “not that sin”? Yes that sin. All your sins without exception, forgiven when you go in faith to the feet of Jesus. No one has ever been to that place and gone away guilty. I met the son of a converted Jew in South Africa last week. He is a pastor in Cape Town and his name is Roland Eskinasi. His father was a Jew working in Egypt who was forced to leave Cairo with many other Jews during the Suez crisis in 1956. He went to live in what is now called Zimbabwe where some Pentecostal Christians spoke to him and he became a new person in Christ. He had a sign printed which always stood on his desk for everyone entering his office to read: “Jesus Never Fails a Repentant Heart.” Roland his son always noticed that sign, though it was many years before he experienced its power in his life.

The words of Jesus are saying that your greatest need is not deliverance from drugs and drink. Your greatest need is not a husband or wife. Your greatest need is not for a job. Your greatest need is for forgiveness of your sins, and that can be found in this living One who said to this helpless man, “Your sins are forgiven.” Come to Christ and find that mercy today. Do nothing else until you are sure that you have received it.

ii] THE LORD ASKED A QUESTION.

We are told that sitting in Jesus’ house were some teachers of the law. They weren’t sweating and weary having carried a man some miles to meet with Jesus. They were not covered with dust having opened up the roof. They were sitting there watching everything instead of directing the crowds and helping needy people come to Christ. They were not enjoying being in the presence of Jesus. They were there waiting for him to make a mistake. They were the critics, the opposition, the people who knew all about religion. They had not come there in their need. They came as self-appointed judges.

When they heard Jesus say to this man that his sins had been forgiven they immediately saw the red warning lights flashing: “Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” (v.7). The question was sensible. You rob a bank and kill a security guard and then come and confess it to me. I cannot say “I forgive you that sin. Go in peace.” I have no authority to say that. You take a man’s wife and you confess it to me. I cannot tell you that I forgive you the sin. I have no authority to do that. But if you steal my car or spread malicious stories about me than I can forgive you because you have sinned against me. But I cannot tell the thug who killed the Christian policeman in Manchester this week, “I forgive you.” Who can forgive sins but God alone?

Christ knew what they were thinking. He knows our thoughts this morning, all the niggles and resentment, the bitterness and grudges, the criticisms. “Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts” (v.8). So he turned to them and he asked them two questions, “Why are you thinking these things? Which is easier: to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven’, or to say, ‘Get up and take your bed and walk'” (v.9). The first question probed their motives for having a questioning spirit. Why do we come where Jesus is and disapprove of what he says? What does that tell us about our inner condition? The first question confronted their consciences.

The second question addressed their minds. Is it easier to talk about forgiveness or to talk about raising this paralysed man? The answer of course is that it is easier to talk about religion and forgiveness and mercy than to talk about actions which can be checked immediately. I once went to the local Member of Parliament to explain to him my concerns about abortion. Did he reply to me, “I shall go to the House of Commons on Monday and raise a private members’ bill to change the law, and I will make a speech about it this week to show where I stand”? No he didn’t. He said this to me, “We believe in a caring society.” What did he give me? An attempt to fob me off with a cliche. What is easier? To talk about ‘a caring society’ and about forgiveness? Or to say, “I shall be doing something now or this week”? Of course it is easier to talk about forgiveness of sins. Talk is cheap. Religious people do so all the time, and people are so used to it that they think it’s God’s job to forgive us.

Of course it was easier for Jesus to say the words, “Your sins are forgiven.” There is no possibility of an operation on this paralytic’s soul by which we could extract it and see that it was ransomed, clean, forgiven, and then replace it. There is no religious scanner extant that can show that any man’s sins have been forgiven, or not. I can make a promise to you that if you trust in Jesus Christ alone and ask him to become your personal Lord and Saviour then he will do something wonderful to you, he will forgive you your sins. Though they are red like crimson they shall be whiter than snow. I can assure you of that, but all I have are words to tell you these things, but I believe that the Holy Spirit accompanies our words and that he applies them to the hearts of favoured men and women so that they know these things are true. But I have no other proof to the rest of you that this is so except that Truth Incarnate assures us in the Bible that it is the case.

Some of you say, “Words. Words. I have heard them all before. Only words. How do I know that they are true? How can anyone know?” See here how the Lord Jesus says that it is easier even for him to talk about the forgiveness of sins. But now there is one more thing he will say.

iii] THE LORD GAVE A COMMAND.

“But that you may know that the Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sin . . . he said to the paralytic, ‘I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.’ (v.11). This was the moment of truth wasn’t it? We can all talk the talk, but do we walk the walk? Will this man walk? Is it all ‘talk’ with Jesus? The eyes of all were now fixed on the man lying helplessly there. What happened next? “He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all” (vv.12). It took their breath away. They worshipped God. Men don’t worship God when they see a conjurer do his tricks. They laugh and applaud and ask one another how he does that. No one laughed or applauded that day in Capernaum. They were overwhelmed at what they saw.

The miracles of Jesus Christ were all signs that attested to his divine authority and truthfulness. He said, “I am the bread of life; I really can feed the inner man so that he is completely satisfied,” then he breaks five loaves and two fishes and feeds 5,000 men with them. The sign confirmed the truth of the claim. Again, Jesus says, “I am the resurrection and the life.” Great words. Are they just rhetoric? Then he raises Lazarus from the dead. The sign attested to the truth of the words. Here the Lord says to this man, “Your sins are forgiven.” How do we know that there is forgiveness with Christ? He proceeds to say to him, “Get up, take your mat and go home.” He got up, and walked out. Whom are we sinners dealing with?

I told you that this incident actually happened. This man was paralysed. These men brought him to Jesus and opened the roof to get him right under his nose. Christ assured him that his sins were forgiven, and then showed that this wasn’t mere words when he raised him up, transformed him, gave him his health, loosed his limbs and sent him home a new man. The people there did not think it was a trick. They said, “We’ve never seen anything like this.” They praised God.

I told you that there was a line from this man to you, because there is a line from this Saviour to you now. There is only one man in the whole world who could do this. There was not a group of healers in Israel and Jesus was the best. There was no other healer in all Israel, nor in all the Mediterranean basin, not in Europe, Asia, Africa or the Americas who could do what Christ does. There is still nobody else. Nobody else preached the Sermon on the Mount. Nobody else claimed “I and my Father are one.” Nobody else walked on water. Nobody else raised the dead. Nobody else is offering you forgiveness of your sins this morning. You can search the religions of the world throughout the centuries. Only in Christ is personal mercy for personal sins to be found. Don’t let delusions keep you from coming to Christ – that there are other Saviours and other ways to God available in other places. Don’t let such thoughts hinder you. There is just one name, and just one who offers forgiveness. That is this Christ who healed this man and who has healed most of us here from the sickness of sin, and he can heal you all. Cry mightily to him that he will do so, and continue until you are assured that he has answered you.

19 January 2003 GEOFF THOMAS