Boarding a boat, Jesus crossed to the other side of the lake and went to his own city. People brought to him a man who was paralyzed, lying on a cot. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the man who was paralyzed, “Be encouraged, my child, your sins are forgiven.” Some legal experts said among themselves, “This man is insulting God.” But Jesus knew what they were thinking and said, “Why do you fill your minds with evil things? Which is easier—to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? But so you will know that the Human One has authority on the earth to forgive sins”—he said to the man who was paralyzed—“Get up, take your cot, and go home.” The man got up and went home. When the crowds saw what had happened, they were afraid and praised God, who had given such authority to human beings (Matthew 9:1-8, Common English Bible).
The legal experts just didn’t get it. They had already seen Jesus heal. They heard him teach. He did both with authority. But, when it came to forgiving sin, that is where they drew the line. For this, Jesus just couldn’t have authority.
When they heard Jesus teach, he amazed them because he didn’t teach the way these legal experts themselves taught. They recognized Jesus was a real teacher. Think about it, if the Bible is the Word of God, and as Christians we believe it is, who can teach it better? Would we say someone who has gone to law school? Would we say a Bible scholar? What about someone who went to seminary? Or, what about the deity who gave us the Word to start with?
Think about it this way. If I wrote a book, the kind of book really doesn’t matter. I wrote a book and you read the book. Which of us is most likely to know the book best? Me, the author? Or, you, the reader. I think it would fall to the author, whether me or someone else. In this case, we are talking about a Deity who is the ultimate someone else.
I also think it is easier to recognize the authority Jesus has to heal than his authority to potentially do something else. After all, the results speak for themselves. A person they knew was blind, now has her/his sight. A person witnesses know cannot walk suddenly has the ability to do so. Peter’s mother-in-law has a fever and suddenly, not only is the fever gone, she gets up and starts serving her guests.
It would seem to me, if these legal experts weren’t ready to recognize Jesus’ authority to forgive sin, they weren’t going to believe it just because he heals yet another person in need. It isn’t that I think Jesus healing the guy is a waste of time. That is far from the case. I just don’t think the effort will convince those who remained unconvinced.
The same is true today. God is at work around us. God has authority to change our world and change our lives. God can change our lives by healing us. God can and does change our eternities by forgiving us. Here is the thing, regardless of what God does, some folks just aren’t going to believe. Still, we try. Still, God works. Perhaps one day, through God’s prevenient grace those who refuse to believe will begin to see the authority that comes from Almighty God.
How have you seen God’s authority at work in your life and in the world?
Joy, Peace and Thanksgiving,
Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved