When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralysed man, ‘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?’
But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.’
On hearing this, Jesus said to them, ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but those who are ill. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.’
Mark 2:5-7, 10, 17 (NIV)
Read: Mark 2
Consider: Mark’s gospel brings together eyewitness accounts of the life of Jesus and is probably based on the accounts of Peter and his recollections of what Jesus said and did. In the gospel evidence is presented about Jesus’ identity and this leads up to a key question in Mark 8:27-29
Jesus and his disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked them, ‘Who do people say I am?’ They replied, ‘Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.’ ‘But what about you?’ he asked. ‘Who do you say I am?’ Peter answered, ‘You are the Messiah.’
What we have to ask ourselves is what is the evidence that Mark presents in his gospel and do we find it convincing in helping us to decide who Jesus is?
When reading Mark’s gospel it is easy to concentrate attention on the miracles and how spectacular they are. While we don’t want to underestimate the significance of the miracles, it is the deeper truths that they point to that are most important.
Mark chapter 2 starts with an incident where a paralysed man is brought to Jesus for healing. Although it is obvious to the man, his friends, the crowd and even Jesus that this man wanted to be healed, instead Jesus says to him ‘Son, your sins are forgiven!‘ Some teachers of the law think this is blasphemous, because in their words ‘Who can forgive sins but God alone?’ Jesus then heals the man physically to prove who he is and that he has authority to forgive sins.
The teachers of the law saw the miracle, but they failed to see what this pointed to. They missed the point that Jesus was declaring through his words and actions that he was indeed the Son of God, the Messiah.
Although Jesus didn’t start by healing the paralysed man, we cannot conclude that he was not interested in people’s physical welfare, as the gospel reveals his willingness to heal people. However, we can conclude that Jesus thought spiritual healing was more important; that forgiveness of sins is his most important message.
Jesus also challenged a Jewish assumption that God’s message would be for the righteous. In Mark 2:17 Jesus makes it clear that his message of forgiveness is for the ‘sick’, not the ‘healthy’. The Jewish religious elite thought they were among the ‘healthy’, but because they thought this way it really indicated that they were indeed ‘sick’ and therefore in need of forgiveness.
Read over Mark 2 again and weigh up the evidence presented about who Jesus really is. Do you believe it? What questions do you have about Jesus’ identity? Do you see yourself as ‘sick’, or ‘healthy’?
Pray: Father, help us to carefully consider the evidence about Jesus that is presented in the gospels. Thank you for Jesus’ message of forgiveness and that he was willing to go to the cross to pay the price for our sin. Amen