And when Jesus returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. 2 And many were gathered together, so that there was no more room, not even at the door. And he was preaching the word to them. 3 And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. 4 And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him, and when they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay. 5 And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” 6 Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, 7 “Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” 8 And immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to them, “Why do you question these things in your hearts? 9 Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk’? 10 But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the paralytic— 11 “I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.” 12 And he rose and immediately picked up his bed and went out before them all, so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!” – Mark 2:1-12
I love this account of Jesus and the paralyzed man and his four friends. There is so much here…
- destruction of private property for the sake of a friend in need
- boldness of the friends assuming that Jesus would do something for their friend
- quarrelling and grumbling of the scribes at Jesus’ assertion of forgiveness
- insightful and challenging questions by Jesus; and
- a formerly-paralyzed man now walking…to the amazement of everyone
Let’s just look at the grumblers for the time being. Isn’t it remarkable that their worry is about Jesus’ authority to forgive sins, rather than the need for healing, and compassion for this paralyzed friend? They did not believe Jesus had the authority to forgive sins. They did not seem concerned about the unroofing of the roof. They didn’t talk about the intrusion into the teaching session.
The scribes thought that Jesus was being more than presumptuous in forgiving sins. And so he would have been – presumptuous – had Jesus not been willing to back it up by going to the cross to offer himself as the atoning sacrifice for the sins of the world. They weren’t just wrong about this; they were completely wrong about Jesus authority and intent.
How is it that we can be so wrong in our assessment of people’s motives, and needing to discredit them? That is so often because we do not really trust God – that he can take care of the deceivers, and sustain the just. If, however, we entrust ourselves to God, believe that he has justified us, and settled our hearts by his grace, we will be at greater peace no matter who seems to be getting away with what.
We would do well to spend our time rejoicing in God’s faithfulness and goodness to us and less time looking over our fence at what others are doing.