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 this paralysed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take up your mat and walk?’ But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.’ So He said to the man, ‘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!‘ (Mark 2: 8-12).

What a slap in the face for the religious leaders! Round one; Jesus, one; teachers of the law, nil. They stood on their sterile religious ground, picking Jesus out for doing what He was not supposed to do – forgive sins. He responded by healing a paralysed man. Take that! They were not pleased and happy for the quality of life and dignity that had been restored to the sufferer. They were so angry with Jesus for “blaspheming” that they just did not get the point.

Jesus asked them a question. “Which is easier: to say to this paralysed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take up your mat and walk?’ Of course it was easier to say, “Your sins are forgiven.” Anyone could say that and get away with it. They could say it if they wanted to, but they didn’t dare. But to say, ‘Get up and walk,” to a man who could not move a finger – well, that was a bit more difficult. They could definitely not say that and get away with it. People would think they were crazy.

But Jesus could, and . . . He did, and . . . the man got up and walked! How about that? They had no answer for that. Jesus said that it would prove one thing, His authority. Forgiveness of sins and healing tied together? It was all part of the same thing – someone had this man in his grip who did things to him that were not of God. There was a usurper in charge who had brought God’s people into slavery but someone had arrived on the scene with authority to evict him.

Exactly! At last God was back, after four hundred silent years, to honour His promise. Messiah was actually here in person to set them free from their worst enemy, the devil. But these religious types were too blind to see it. They were too busy picking holes in Jesus to realise that no ordinary man could do what He did. The common people had more discernment than they had. They celebrated this amazing event even though they might not have understood it.

Obviously the teachers of the law – note their title – had missed something. The “Son of Man”? Who was He? Jesus was not just using a euphemism for “me”. There was something far more significant in the title. Where did it appear in the sacred Scriptures that they were supposed to know? It was used in two different contexts in the Old Testament.

God called Ezekiel “son of man”.  Why? The title emphasized Ezekiel’s fallibility and weakness as a member of the human race. Prophet he might be, but he was also just a man. The authority for his office came from God. He was never to forget that it was God who gave him the message and God who empowered him to deliver it. If he failed to obey God’s instructions, he would be as guilty as the people to whom he was to deliver the message.

In a vision, Daniel, on the other hand, saw a powerful figure approaching the throne of the Ancient of Days. He looked like a “son of man” but “he was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him” (Dan. 7: 14a).

How magnificently the title “Son of Man” suited Jesus! Son of man – a weak, ordinary human being, subject to the Father and obedient to Him; Son of Man – God’s appointed Messiah to whom is given authority and sovereign power and who is worshipped by people of all nations.

What a pity they missed it! Their religious bigotry shut their minds to the truth Jesus displayed in the moment. Forgiven! Healed! The kingdom of God had come! But their blindness had exposed their wicked hearts.

Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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Luella Campbell

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