A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. 2 They gathered in such large numbers that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them. 3 Some men came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. 4 Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on. 5 When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”

6 Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, 7 “Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?
8 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? 9 Which is easier: to say to this paralyzed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’? 10 But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the man, 11 “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” 12 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 2:1-12

Jesus roused the anger of the Pharisees over something that doesn’t make sense until one recognises a profound truth hidden in Scripture from the beginning. From the Pharisees’ perspective, Jesus was a man and yet He was declaring this paralytic’s sins forgiven. To them He was blaspheming because He was taking on God’s role and usurping God’s position as the only one who had the authority to forgive sins.

If only they realised it, this was a set-up to show them that Jesus was indeed God! He latched onto their objection even though it was only in their thoughts. He was sharp enough to discern their reaction and set up a challenge. Two situations here – one inward and invisible, the other outward and visible. If He did the apparently more difficult thing – heal the paralysed man, would it not show them that He had the same authority to do the inward thing – forgive the man’s sins?

When it happened, the Pharisees had no answer but they were not convinced because they didn’t want to be convinced. Jesus was providing proof over and over again that He was God, if they would only weigh the evidence honestly. The common people were delighted but the Pharisees were frustrated.

This poses a serious question. In the Pharisees’ understanding, sacrifice was the ground of forgiveness, but Jesus was offering forgiveness without sacrifice. How could that be? What the Pharisees did not understand was that animal sacrifice was the visible evidence of a sacrifice that had already been made before time.

All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast—all whose names have not been written in the Lamb’s book of life, the Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world. Revelation 13:8

When Jesus was crucified in time, He was revealing what had already been accomplished before time. The animal sacrifices of the old covenant were useless to deal with sin apart from the eternal sacrifice of the Lamb of God (Hebrews 9:12-14). Therefore, Jesus had every right to offer forgiveness because of the eternal redemption He had already accomplished and would make visible through the cross.

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Luella Campbell

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