This morning I preached from Mark 2:1-12. This is the story where Jesus heals a man who is paralyzed. The story unfolds like this: Jesus is preaching. Four men bring their friend to Jesus but the place is too crowded to get inside. So they take him up to the roof, pull the roof apart to make an opening, and then lower their friend through the hole, directly in front of Jesus. At this point in the story Mark writes:
"And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, 'Son, your sins are forgiven.'"
There are some experts in Jewish law present. They may not have been listening closely while he was preaching but these words by Jesus catch their attention. According to Mark they are thinking this:
"Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?"
Blasphemy. The high crime of all Jewish religious crimes. And Jesus, for all practical purposes, has committed the worst form of this crime and put himself into the place reserved for God. A place held by God alone, with no part shared with anyone else. Ever.
The religious experts are right in their understanding of the law, but they are also on very thin ice. God, and only God, can forgive a person's sins. Jesus could just be a man, a man like any other man, a man claiming the place of God. And if that is the case then he is indeed committing blasphemy.
But what if Jesus isn’t quite who the experts think he is? What if the power of God runs through him, because he is indeed God? If that is the case then the ice that the experts have stepped out on won’t thick enough, won’t be strong enough, to hold their weight. And as Mark tells the remainder of the story that proves to be the case.
As the experts crash through the ice they are faced with this fact: If Jesus is God, then he cannot be ignored. That fact, and its implications, continues to confront anyone wondering about the identity of Jesus today.
If Jesus is God then we have to take what he says seriously. Everything. We may want to pick and choose among the things he says and the way that he calls his followers to live in the world, but that really isn't an option. Not when the one speaking to us speaks with the authority of God, because he is God.
Ponder that thought. Pray over that thought. What is Jesus saying to you? Where is he calling you to follow him? This somewhat unlikely man, preaching to a crowd in a small town in Galilee, truly is God, and as the gospel unfolds we see how good of a thing that fact truly is.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.