“Why do you reason about these things in your hearts?” Mark 2:8

 by Steven Chan

“In Mark 2:1-12, four men uncovered the roof of the house where Jesus was ‘preaching the Word’ and lowered the bed on which their palsied friend laid, into the presence of Jesus so that he could be healed. When Jesus ‘saw their faith’, He said to the palsied man, “Son, your sins are forgiven you.”

At that utterance, Jesus perceived the religious scholars of the day, i.e. the scribes, “reasoning in their hearts, why does this Man speak blasphemies like this? Who can forgive sins but God alone?”

Then Jesus said to the scribes: “Why do you reason about these things in your hearts? 9 Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise, take up your bed and walk’? 10 But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins”

Immediately after saying that, Jesus said to the palsied man: “arise, take up your bed, and go your way to your house.” 12 Immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went out in the presence of them all, so that all were amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!”

We can learn some important lessons from this account:-

1. Faith needs to be manifested by action. If the four friends merely said that they had faith that Jesus could heal their palsied friend but did nothing, their friend would not be healed. Jesus has the power to heal. But it would be of no benefit to the palsied man if no action was taken by faith.

Likewise, with us today, God has the power to help us in our lives. But if we do not make any effort to act by faith, we will not be able to experience the power of God in our lives. Indeed, the just shall live by faith (Rom 1:17; 2 Cor 5:7)

2. When our long held beliefs are challenged by credible evidence, we need to re-examine our conclusions in the light of God’s revelation.

The scribes reasoned correctly that only God could forgive sins but they failed to realize/conclude that Jesus was in fact the Son of God: ‘equal with God’- John 5:18; Phil 2:6: His name was Immanuel, which meant God with us – Matt 1:23; He was God in the flesh: John 1:14.

Saul (later known as the apostle Paul) thought that he was doing the right thing when he persecuted the church of God. But when the truth was revealed to him on the road to Damascus, he was willing to repent and change his belief concerning Christ.

Today, when we are shown the scriptures concerning the truth revealed by God, are we prepared to change our long-cherished belief so as to accept the truth of God’s Word (John 17:17)? Apollos was unaware of the truth that the baptism commanded by John had been superseded by the baptism commanded by Jesus in Matt 28:18-20. Priscilla and Aquila taught him “the way of God more accurately” (Acts 18:24-28). Apollos became an outstanding preacher of the way of God. Later on, those who had been baptized in John’s baptism were baptized again in the name of Jesus (Acts 19:1-5).

Similarly, if we have been baptized not for the forgiveness of sins (but as a public confession of an inward change) then we have not been baptized for the right purpose (Acts 2:38; 22:16). Will we decide to change our mind about our baptism, just like the believers in Ephesus (Acts 19:1-5) and do exactly what God has commanded (Mark 16:16; Acts 10:48)?

3. His power to provide immediate healing for the palsied man was to point us to the more important power of Jesus: His power on earth to forgive sins.

Jesus was primarily concerned with the spiritual well-being of the palsied man. This was evidenced by the fact that when Jesus saw their faith in him, He gave the palsied man the most important healing: the healing of his soul by forgiving him of his sins.

His saying to the palsied man that “your sins is forgiven” was backed up by His incredible power to heal, when He said to the palsied man, “arise, take up your bed, and go your way to your house”.

The reasoning is that “if we can see” that Jesus possessed the power to heal someone who could not ordinarily be healed, then “we can believe what we are not able to see”: that He was truly who He claimed to be: the Son of God and therefore He had the power on earth to forgive sins (John 20:30-31). The signs performed by Jesus were to help us believe that He is truly the Son of God. We should not remain focused on those “signs” but on what those signs signified:  Jesus and His significance (1 Cor 13:8-13; Acts 17:30-31)

The bible exhorts us in1 Thess 5:21 to “prove all things and to hold fast what is good” Let’s reason correctly and not be like those men described in Rom 1:21-22 who “became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools…”