NASHVILLE (BP) — This weekly Bible study appears in Baptist Press in a partnership with LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. Through its Leadership and Adult Publishing team, LifeWay publishes Sunday School curricula and additional resources for all age groups.
This week’s Bible study is adapted from the Explore the Bible curriculum.
Bible Passage: Mark 2:1-12
— What makes seeking forgiveness so difficult? Why might other people stand in the way of a person gaining forgiveness?
— How are forgiveness and belief connected?
Food for thought:
Two preschoolers were trying to gain access to the same slide at the kid’s play area. Neither child was willing to let the other go first so there they stood. It didn’t take long before a pushing match started, causing the parents to get involved.
The two preschoolers were directed to apologize to one another and then given a plan for taking turns using the slide. They did not apologize to the other kids playing elsewhere on the playground, but to the person they offended. That’s the way forgiveness works; we go to the one we offended because that’s the only one who can forgive us.
In Mark 2 we are introduced to some scribes who understood this principle. Jesus declared to a paralyzed man that his sins were forgiven. The scribes, the legal experts of the day, would have begun to think about passages such as Isaiah 43:25-26, Isaiah 55:7, 2 Chronicles 7:14, Psalm 25:18, Psalm 32:5, Psalm 51:4, Psalm 130:4 and Daniel 9:9, which all point to God being the forgiver of sin. Joseph and David both realized sin to be an action against God (Genesis 39:9, Psalm 51:4). If sin is against Him, then He is the only One who can grant forgiveness.
The scribes understood correctly that Jesus was claiming an action that only God could do. The problem was they refused to accept Him as being God. It became an issue of faith, of belief.
When the man was lowered, Mark notes that Jesus recognized the faith of the paralyzed man’s advocates. They might not have understood everything about Jesus, but they at least had enough faith to take action. Their actions were not the critical factor, but rather their faith which was demonstrated by their action moved Jesus to act, with the forgiveness of sin being of greatest importance.
The God who forgives sin was standing in the middle of this crowd in the flesh. A once-paralyzed man walked away forgiven while a group of scribes walked away paralyzed spiritually. It all came down to who placed their faith in Jesus and who did not.
Explore the Bible
Explore the Bible is an ongoing Bible study curriculum that helps groups dig into the key truths of each Bible book, while keeping the group on pace to study through the Bible books in a systematic way. More information can be found at LifeWay.com/ExploreTheBible .