Power to Forgive / Power to Heal
Mark 2 (our daily reading today) begins the story of the opposition Jesus receives from Jewish leaders. In Mark 1, Jesus calls his first disciples, leaves the synagogue of Capernaum in awe, and has large crowds following him to the point where he could no longer travel about in the open (Mark 1:45). This lasts one chapter! In Mark 2, Jesus is noticed by the religious leaders, and they to mount a growing opposition. It all begins when Jesus heals a paralyzed man brought to him by friends that show both ingenuity and faith. The lower the man down on his mat from a hole in the roof where Jesus is teaching. Jesus sees their faith and says to the man, "Son, your sins are forgiven" (Mark 2:5).
The rabbis there immediately seize upon Jesus' words as blasphemy, "Who can forgive sins but God alone?" (Mark 2:7). But that is precisely the point Jesus is making through his miracles. The power he is showing is from God; the miracles he is performing point to God. He responds to their unspoken objection by pointing to the point of his miracles (Mark 2:9-12)
Which is easier: to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins....” He said to the paralytic, “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!”
Jesus' power to heal proved that he also had the authority to forgive sins. The crowds could know that Jesus had authorize to forgive by the power he exerted over life's problems.
I wonder if we need the reverse proof! Most of us have no doubt that Jesus forgives sins. We are committed to the idea that cross is God's power to forgive every sin we will bring to the cross. And we believe heaven awaits all those who live under the cross. But are we as confident in Christ's power to deal with the struggles in our present lives? Does Christ have the power to help us live above our problems, weaknesses and hurts? Is the power of Christ today only spiritual and limited to eternal life after we die? Or does Christ continue to give us power through His Spirit to live confident and victorious and joyful lives now? Can Jesus deal with our sickness and pain, our broken relationships, our job difficulties, and our weakness in the face of temptation? If Jesus has the power to forgive sin (the greatest human problem), then he also has the power to overcome any human problem. If we trust Jesus for the next life, then we had better trust him for this one as well!