Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, “Your sins are forgiven”, or to say, “Arise, take up your pallet and walk”? But in order that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins, He said to the man, “I say to you, rise, take up your pallet and go home.” (Mark 2:9-11)
We’re back in church. Well, not a church building, but I’m using the term in its intended meaning: “a gathering of people.” In this case it was a gaggle of people, standing shoulder to shoulder, wall to wall, in someone’s house. (Ooh, a packed sanctuary – every pastor’s dream!) Jesus is teaching when lo (actually it was “high”!), another interruption occurs: a scratching sound up on the ceiling. A hole begins to open, and everyone scatters to avoid falling debris. But then, they freeze at the sight of a paralyzed man being lowered by ropes on a stretcher, right down into “the front pew” in front of Jesus. It seems his buddies couldn’t get him in the front door, so they got creative and made a door of their own – right through the roof! The people were impressed by the persistence of these fellows (we can well guess the homeowner was less impressed than depressed about this bold daylight defacement of his property!) But Jesus was amazed, not just at the clever solution these guys devised, but at the faith it showed. He went right to work on their friend, to heal both body and soul -- but not before yet another interruption, this time from the religious elite, always on hand to try and catch Jesus in a mistake. And this time they had Him: “Such blasphemy, to claim to forgive this man’s sin. Everyone knows only God can do that!” (Our answer would come quickly – if not a bit sarcastically – “Your point being?”) But they were right, of course, in that this man’s sins weren’t against Jesus, so His offer of forgiveness had no meaning – if Jesus were just a man. We can forgive someone who has sinned against us, but offenses between others are none of our business. But when we see every sin of every man as first and foremost an affront to that man’s Maker, then we can understand that all forgiveness is God’s business. Christ’s answer to the Pharisees’ question was the most amazing statement made by anyone that day: “Which is easier, to heal this man’s bones or to forgive his sins?” Someone might answer, “Neither, because both are impossible – unless of course you’re God!” Ah, that’s it! If just a man, Jesus would be a liar and imposter; but if He’s the Creator couldn’t He make deformed legs straight again? And if He’s the Redeemer, couldn’t He make wounded hearts whole again? Couldn’t He do that for me? For you?
Bits & Pieces from Japan
8 years ago