Several days later Jesus came back to Capernaum. The report went out that he was home. 2 Many people had gathered. There was no room left, even in front of the door. Jesus was speaking God’s word to them.3 Four men came to him carrying a paralyzed man. 4 Since they could not bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof over the place where Jesus was. Then they lowered the cot on which the paralyzed man was lying.5 When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the man, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.”
6 Some experts in Moses’ Teachings were sitting there. They thought, 7 “Why does he talk this way? He’s dishonoring God. Who besides God can forgive sins?”8 At once, Jesus knew inwardly what they were thinking. He asked them, “Why do you have these thoughts?
9 Is it easier to say to this paralyzed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, pick up your cot, and walk’? 10 I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” Then he said to the paralyzed man, 11 “I’m telling you to get up, pick up your cot, and go home!”
12 The man got up, immediately picked up his cot, and walked away while everyone watched. Everyone was amazed and praised God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this.” – Mark 2:1-12
I don’t remember the specifics of the occasion, but I do remember the question: Who authorized you to do that? I was a young pastor with good intentions but lacking a sufficient degree of finesse in making changes or proposing new ways of doing ministry. A very similar question was, “Did you write this?” I do recall the specifics of that question. It was in regard to the need for an organ renovation that was doubted by the one who asked the question.
He accused me of deceiving the congregation. I had not. But the accusation had been made. It was followed by an even more grave judgment: “You have raped and pillaged this church!” Obviously my accuser had much at stake in his assessment of the way things ought to be.
Thankfully the accusation did not stand. And the accuser was unable to substantiate his claim or make his case successfully. All this many years ago. I’m sure I could have done better in every aspect of the affair. But his accusation betrayed an insecurity and judgmental too often displayed even by those who claim to follow Jesus.
The conclusions and accusations of the religious experts regarding Jesus’ actions and teaching was similarly motivated. They were threatened by Jesus’ authority and teaching. They feared much from him. They thought him a blasphemer. He had no authority to forgive sins. He was completely without authorization to do this thing he was doing. Or so they thought.
Jesus’ miraculous and merciful healing showed otherwise. He had authority to forgive sins. He had power to heal disease. No one could question his authority after seeing that: surely. But they would question Jesus’ authority. They would accuse him of further blasphemy. They would eventually kill him.
It is easier to say, “Your sins are forgiven.” But Jesus didn’t just say it. He sacrificed himself for it. He died for it. By his own authority. And now all authority has been given to him. When we follow him, we are part of his story of redemption and healing in the lives of many. Best we recognize Jesus’ authority rather than question it.