Sunday, March 30, 2014

Jesus Can Forgive Sins? (A Reflection on Mark 2:1-12)

Seeing how much faith they had, Jesus said to the paralyzed man,
My son, your sins are forgiven.’
Some teachers of the Law who were sitting there thought to themselves,
How does he dare talk like this? This is blasphemy!
God is the only one who can forgive sins!’” (Mark 2:5-6, GNB).

The same way my Muslim friends responded to me when I said that Jesus can forgive our sins, the teachers of the Law cried sternly: “No, only God can forgive sins!” This is perfectly understandable defend. If God was the one who was offended, why Jesus took the position to forgive the man’s sins as if He is God? If He is merely God’s messenger why didn’t He simply say, ‘My son, God has forgiven your sins’? How can he know that? If Jesus is nothing more than a godly man, then this accusation is valid – this is blasphemy!

Christianity, however, has an explanation about this: Jesus was God incarnate. He is “the one and only Son, who is himself God” (John 1:18, NIV). He is “my own dear Son” (Mark 1:11) said God the Father during His baptism. “I,” Jesus said, “and the Father are one” (John 10:30). To the spiritual blind eyes, He is blasphemed. But to His people, He is the Son of God and the Son of Man, who has authority to forgive sins. The teachers of the Law were right when they protested, “God is the only one who can forgive sins!” That was why Jesus openly declared that the man’s sins were forgiven – He is God incarnate.

[Jesus] said to them, ‘Why do you think such things? It is easier to say to this paralyzed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, pick up your mat, and walk’? I will prove you, then, that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.’” (Mark 2:8-10, GNB).

This is very practical question. Anyone can say to you and me that ‘Your sins are forgiven.’ There would be no way of telling whether it had happened or not. I bet there was no physical changed to the paralyzed man when Jesus said this. But to say ‘Get up, pick up your mat, and walk’ is very evident that Jesus is blasphemed if the miracle doesn’t happen on the spot. Jesus was basically said to the teachers of the Laws that the reality of healing demonstrates the reality of forgiveness. “While they all watched, the man got up, picked up his mat, and hurried away” (Mark 2:12). The healing happened in front of everyone. Therefore, the forgiveness is real!

Today, I fear, people seeking healings more than seeking Jesus, the Healer. People are more obsess with miracles rather than knowing the Son of Man behind the miracles. People are asking for signs and wonders but not the forgiveness of sins that God offers through His Son, Jesus Christ. When you read the Gospel of Mark, you’ll find that Jesus make preaching as His primary agenda (1:14, 1:21, 1:38-39, 2:2), not healings and miracles. His message was and is always be until His second coming, that all of us need to joyfully follow and obey, is that: “The right time has come and the Kingdom of God is near! Turn away from your sins and believe the Good News!” (Mark 1:15, GNB).

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