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February 28, 2021 | Doug Sauder
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“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?’ 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 paralyzed man, “Your sins are forgiven,” or to say, “Get up, take 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.’”—Mark 2:6–11 (NIV)
Have you ever known someone who’s impossible to please? The kind of person that, no matter what you do, where you take them, what you get them, or how well things go, it’s never good enough. My mom is kind of like that. A few years ago, my wife and I took my parents to an amazing Brazilian steakhouse for her birthday. Everyone else was over the moon, but my mom was not impressed. It was super deflating.
When I read today’s passage and the Pharisees’ reaction to Jesus’ miracle, I see a group of people whose actions are so deflating. Think about it: Jesus miraculously healed a man who was paralyzed. This man’s life was never going to be the same again. There should have been tears, hugs, and happiness. But in the midst of it, the Pharisees found a reason to be negative, offended, and outraged. In modern terms, they wanted to “cancel” Jesus here—the Pharisees were the founders of cancel culture.
So, Jesus asks them why they are thinking these things. Perhaps it was because even in the face of a miracle, they assumed Jesus had to be a blasphemer. Why? Because He didn’t line up with their expectations and self-influenced image of God.
They refused to see the truth that was right in front of them, that Jesus was able to open blind eyes, heal the sick, make the paralyzed walk, raise the dead, and speak with unprecedented authority because He was the Messiah, God in the flesh. So, He tells them, “I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins,” which is why He healed the man by saying, “Your sins are forgiven” instead of something else.
Friends, the words of Jesus will sometimes rub up against our worldly minds, our human philosophies, and our short-sighted, imperfect ideologies. And guess what? That’s a good thing. Why? Because we are sinners living in a fallen, sinful world . . . a world that has been corrupted, a world in which the enemy has darkened the hearts and minds of people with deception and distortion, a world in which the spiritual forces of darkness are waging war and seeking to steal, kill, and destroy. The words and ways of Jesus won’t make sense and will be outright offensive to those who don’t know Him because His way is not worldly but heavenly and perfect. And sometimes, His words and ways will even cause discomfort and sting even us Christians as we continue to deal with the residue of our sinful nature and our continued presence in the world, surrounded by its influences, voices, and temptations. And when it does cause discomfort, instead of writing this off as the Pharisees did, let’s lean into it, surrender our way, and submit to His authority, supremacy, and sufficiency.
PAUSE: Why do Jesus’ teachings and the principles, commandments, and ways of His Word often brush up against our own way of thinking, even as believers? How can we remedy this more and more each day?
PRACTICE: Today, do some internal examination. Consider the things you have and are accepting that don’t line up with the words and ways of Jesus and His Word. Examine them objectively. Where did the roots of these ideologies come from? Why are these issues causing you discomfort or unease or rubbing you the wrong way? How are they currently impacting your faith and personal relationship with Jesus? And most importantly, how can you, by the will and wisdom of the Holy Spirit, recalibrate your heart and align your mind to the Word of God and the way of Jesus?
PRAY: Father, today I pray as the psalmist did in Psalm 139:23–24 (ESV), “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” and Psalm 19:12 (NIV), “Forgive my hidden faults.” Please, Father, search my heart, mind, and soul and reveal to me the things that aren’t of You, the things that stand in opposition to Your Word, Your will, and Your ways. And purge me of them by the power of the Spirit that I may walk in Your ways and follow the paths of righteousness upon which You lead me. Amen.