Friday, September 26, 2008

Tough Passage

Mandy Leigh wrote this comment: "the thing that always sticks out in my head about this passage is Jesus' question, "Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, 'Your sins are forgiven'; or to say,' Arise, and take up your pallet and walk'?" He seems to be asking this as an easy rhetorical question to the scribes who he was addressing, like the answer is obvious as to which one of these options is easier. To's not obvious. Which is easier? And, does Jesus heal this man proving to the scribes that He can actually do both? That the fact the man walked out of the room will cause the scribes to think "his sins may be forgiven too." I have more thoughts about this passage as's a loaded passage! :)"
This is a great comment. And I think Mandy brings up a terrific point ---- I really don't know which is easier (that being forgiveness or healing). Neither seem to be easier. Now look at the end of verse 7: "...Who can forgive sins but God alone?" This is the question that is on the table in these 12 verses. And Jesus says it in this dialog between the scribes, when he says it in verse 10: "But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins." God forgives sins --- and Jesus shows the scribes, paralytic, friends of paralytic and the whole congregation who has the power to forgive sins. We might want to just breeze over this point ---- the point that Jesus is God ---- but let's not just jump over that. This has radical implications. C.S.Lewis, in Mere Christianity writes: "Then comes the real shock. Among these Jews there suddenly turns up a man who goes about talking as if He was God. He claims to forgive sins. He says He has always existed. He says He is coming to judge the world at the end of time ..... God, in their language, meant the Being outside the world Who had made it and was infinitely different from anything else. And when you have grasped that, you will see that what this man said was, quite simply, the most shocking thing that has even been uttered by human lips. One part of the claim tens to slip past us unnoticed because we have heard it so often that we no longer see what it amounts to. I mean the claim to forgive sins: and sins. Now unless the speaker is God, this is really so preposterous as to be comic ..... He told people that their sins were forgiven, and never waited to consult all the other people whom their sins had undoubtedly injured. He unhesitatingly behaved as if He was the party chiefly concerned, the person chiefly offended in all offenses. This makes sense only if He really was the God whose laws are broken and whose love is wounded in every sin ..... I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: 'I'm ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don't accept His claim to be God.' That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic--on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg--or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to."

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