Mark 2:1-12 (part 1)
OK, so Jesus returns to Capernaum. News of His arrival spread quickly throughout the town, so quickly that within no time, the house where He was staying was so packed with visitors that there was no room for even 1 more person to stand (I imagine the train system in Japan during rush hour). There wasn’t even room outside the door. And Jesus preached the Word to them. By this time, 4 men arrived carrying a paralyzed man on a mat. They (obviously) couldn’t get to Jesus through the crowd, so they climbed up to the roof, dug a hole in the clay roof above Jesus, then lowered their friend down on his mat, right in front of Jesus. And seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man, “My son, your sins are forgiven.”
Now, I’ve heard a lot of talks and sermons on this, focusing on the fact that it was by their faith, not the paralyzed man’s, that Jesus healed him. Let me just throw in that this is good encouragement to those of us who pray for our sick friends, for it shows us that God answers prayers from others for others, regardless of the faith of the person being prayed for.
However, what I want to focus on today are the teachers of Religious Law who were sitting there listening to Jesus, for as soon as Jesus said this to the paralyzed man, their red flags went up: “What? This is blasphemy! Who but God can forgive sins?” I can imagine the teachers of Religious Law sitting and watching, learning, and observing Jesus as He spoke like none of them, sitting in front of Him like children at story time. Why were they there? They could have been listening intently to Jesus for insight and wisdom; they may have been listening to learn how to teach better; or, they could have been doing what I do each time I visit a new church, which is listen cautiously, critiquing the sermons, making sure they stick to the Truth and don’t give me reason to throw up any red flags. Either way, when Jesus said what He did, they caught it and threw up their red flags.
Now, Mark says that Jesus knew what they were saying to each other. I can imagine Jesus looking out the corner of His eye as or after He said this to the man, waiting and expecting the teachers to respond. I can relate from when teaching youth in my former ministries. Sometimes I would throw something out there and wait for them to pick up on it, then just watch them as the wheels are turning in their heads, as they’re trying to figure it out. Sometimes they would need just a little more to work on…another hint, so I’d throw one out there. And if they still didn’t get it, I would challenge them with a question, but not quite give the answer. For the excitement when they figure it out, how their faces light up when they get their “ah-ha!” moments, is just not comparable! I wonder if Jesus may have felt a little excitement when He saw that they caught it and began discussing it among themselves? And just as my former youth needed a hint, Jesus gave them one also by asking, “Why do you think this is blasphemy? Is it easier to say to the paralyzed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven’, or ‘Get up, pick up your mat, and walk’?” It’s as if Jesus was saying:
Teachers: ‘Who but God can forgive?’
Jesus: ‘YES, exACTly…come on guys, you’ve almost got it. Just stretch your minds…think about what I just said and did, and what you just asked. Who am I revealing myself to you as? Who am I saying that I Am?’
I mean, these guys read the Mosaic Law and the prophets, studied them, and taught it all to others. They knew what to look for in the Messiah of God to come, and if anybody could figure it out, these guys were the ones. Then Jesus challenged them a little further by continuing, “I will prove to you that I, the Son of Man, have the authority on Earth to forgive sins,” as if to say, ‘you don’t fully see it now, and that’s OK.’ And almost as if to say, ‘here’s a clue to add to your investigation. But keep watch, for I’ll give you more.
Clues so far:
- Healed a leper
- Cast out demon in a synagogue
- Healed many more
- Cast out more demons
- Teaching the Word of God with authority
- Healed this paralyzed man
- Knew what they were all talking about without asking
- Introducing something new to the people of God
- He was from Bethlehem (just as was David)
‘Stretch your minds…what do you see? Keep paying attention because I’ll show you more, for y’all are the religious detectives, and if anybody can figure it out, it’s you guys.’
- We often may miss something that God is trying to say to us. Maybe He’ll throw a curveball in our lives, or maybe He’ll challenge us with something that seems unexpected. When you listen to Jesus, how do you listen? Do you listen with hopes to gain some insight, wisdom, encouragement or instruction? Do you listen to learn of ways to better yourself, your skills or strengths? Do you listen cautiously, critiquing everything, making sure there’s no reason to throw up any red flags? Do you listen with one ear to Jesus and one ear to the world? Is there a different way you listen? How do you listen to God? Is there some way that you could be listening to Him better? Reflect on or discuss this.
- The teachers of Religious Law were sort of God’s professional interpreters of the Scriptures. They should have recognized Jesus as the Messiah immediately, even if just from the clues He gave so far. But for some reason, they didn’t seem to get it. Maybe they were reading the wrong passages, focusing on the Law too much, and not really focusing on God’s promises, prophecies, or even what to look for in the Messiah. If they had, then they could have announced to everybody about who Jesus was. As Christians, we too are sort of God’s detectives, for we should know Jesus personally, we should know what Jesus said about the signs of the age, and we should recognize all false gospels, teachers, prophets, believers and predictions, for we too have God’s Word (His Bible), and should be on top of what it says, promises, and teaches. That way, when people who don’t know Jesus or anything about God look at or come to us, we should be ready to proclaim Jesus as God, the only one who can forgive sins. What would you tell somebody if they asked you who Jesus is?
- Jesus gave out a ton of clues which all pointed to who He is. What are some clues that you’ve experienced or witnessed that reveal who Jesus is? Discuss (with others) about why these clues reveal Jesus.