Mark 2:5-12 (NIV): 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 was what they were thinking 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!”
The teachers of the law were actually on the right track, but they and those in the crowd who heard Jesus say, “Son, your sins are forgiven” stopped short of reaching the correct conclusion. Their starting premise was: only God can forgive sins, which is totally correct. The conclusion that they should have reached by the end of this event was: Jesus is God.
Of course, to get them there, Jesus had to demonstrate that He really did have authority to forgive the sins of this man. His technique to do this was perfect. The easy thing to do in the face of paralysis, which no doctors then could hope to cure, would be to tell the man that is sins were forgiven. This would imply (correctly, actually) that being forgiven was more important than being physically healed. But this forgiveness had no effect that was visible to those gathered around. It was a “safe” declaration that couldn’t really be countered by anyone sitting there. Jesus couldn’t prove that the man was now forgiven, but those witnessing it couldn’t prove that he was not.
But Jesus wasn’t into logical games. He was there to bear witness to the Father, and to declare the advent of God’s kingdom. His challenge was, “If I do the more difficult thing, the thing that will be perfectly evident to everyone if I succeed, telling this man to take up his mat and walk, then you will have to admit that it is possible for Me to succeed in doing the easier thing, declaring this man’s sins forgiven.” And so Jesus told the paralyzed man, “Get up, take your mat and go home.” He never touched the man. He didn’t pray over him or anoint him with oil. He just gave a command, and the man instantly obeyed.
Again, this should have led people, especially the teachers of the law, to construct the following logical proof:
- Only God can forgive sins.
- Jesus can forgive sins.
- Therefore, Jesus is God.
But their prejudices and their closed system of logic, believing that God was in heaven, and would not ever show up as a real human being, kept them from accepting that logical conclusion and falling at Jesus’ feet in worship and total surrender. Instead, they were left shaking their heads, trying to make sense of it all, and saying, “We have never seen anything like this!”
Father, even today those same kinds of prejudices and closed logic systems cause people to overlook the obvious about Jesus. People accept Him as a prophet, or a good man, or a great teacher, but are unwilling to accept Him as God in the flesh. But Jesus, by both action and very clear statements, declared Himself to be God, and we must accept Him as such, or we cannot be saved. Thank You for Your clear word, and all of the wonders that it contains. Amen.