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The Greater End

By Jared

 

 

And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, “Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” And immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to them, “Why do you question these things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the paralytic— “I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.” And he rose and immediately picked up his bed and went out before them all, so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!”  Mark 2:3-12

 

Son, your sins are forgiven.

 

Can you imagine being the paralyzed man in this story? Think what his friends might have thought as they heard these words by Jesus? They had worked feverishly to carry their paralyzed friend, push through crowds, get on the roof, dig through the roofing and lower the man down. All this was done with the hopes that Jesus would heal their friend.

 

I wonder if the paralytic’s friends might have been a little disappointed at this point. “Your sins are forgiven…?” I might have said to myself, “Sure. We all need forgiveness of sins, but I want my friend to walk.”

 

Rather than addressing this apparent disappointment, Jesus created another dilemma. Everyone knew that no one has the authority to forgive sins except God. By making this statement of forgiveness, Jesus claimed to be God. The tension in the room would have been thick by now. Jesus did not heal the paralyzed man, and then he went on to offend the religious leaders who were present. The scribes immediately recognized the extravagant claim of Jesus.

 

If the story ended here, we would have to ask ourselves, “What in the world was Jesus doing?”

 

It is important to note that the scribes were exactly right. Only God can forgive sins. To pronounce forgiveness of sins was to assert the authority that belongs to God alone. Where the scribes erred was in their assessment of who Jesus was.

 

Jesus further clarified this claim to be God when he referred to himself as “the Son of Man” mentioned in the messianic prophecy of Daniel 7:13, 14. Jesus then proceeded to demonstrate his divine authority by commanding the man to be healed.

 

Through this entire encounter with the paralyzed man, Jesus demonstrated that He was God, and that He had come to heal the obvious problem (paralysis) and the less obvious source of the problem (sin). This is the same root problem that lies behind any of the ills and struggles of this world. God Himself came to humankind in order to forgive sins and reconcile the world to himself.

 

Jesus’ ministry on earth did not stop at healing afflictions, casting out demons, or filling hungry stomachs. Jesus did all of these things, but they were a means to a greater end. This end or goal was to demonstrate the new life that is only possible by his death and resurrection, a new life characterized by the forgiveness of sins and the reconciliation of all things to God.

 

It was a wonderful miracle for the paralyzed man to walk, but this walking and health would only be temporary. His future was the same as all humanity. The grave. The Bible, however, tells us that the grave is not the end of the story for those who have been forgiven by the grace of God. The once paralyzed man would someday stumble into a grave, but he will walk again at the resurrection of believers that is secured by Jesus’ resurrection. In that glorious day, the former paralyzed man will do more than walk. He, and we, will dance!

 

If our lives and ministries are to be in sync with the ministry of God, then we must have the same goal and end in mind. The greater goal of God’s ministry is the reconciliation of all things to Himself through the forgiveness of sins through Jesus Christ.

 

May God help us expand the purpose of our service, mercy and proclamation beyond the delay of death to the proclamation of new life in Jesus. As we feed the hungry, love the broken, welcome the refugee, visit prisoners, serve widows, and clothe the naked, let us not settle for less than this great end.

 

 

 

 

 

About the Author 

Jared and his family serve in East Asia by offering theological stability to local pastors and church leaders through facilitating opportunities for theological education.

 

 

 

A Word From James

In a culture that is overly influenced by "political correctness", it may be easy to stop short in our Christian witness. Never wanting to come across as judgmental is one thing, but not naming the Name in our witness is an over-reaction. The only long-term solution to the pains, injustices and brokenness of any person or culture is Jesus...although healthcare, housing, education or other gifts may be used as parts of the healing.

 

Is there some way FollowOne can help you, your children and your church use the blessings of God to serve lost and hurting people in the love of Jesus?

 

 

 

 

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