6 Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, 7 “Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” 8 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? 9 Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk’? 10 But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the paralytic— 11 “I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.” 12 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 never saw anything like this!”
Have you ever noticed that we seldom ask God why he performed a miracle of kindness? When things happen that we do not like, we cry out to God, saying, “Why would you let this happen, Lord?” However, when God does something amazing and good, we seldom say to God, “How could you let such a wonderful thing happen?”
We would, however, do well to think about the miracles of Jesus and their purpose. Take for example the miracle in Mark 2. We have in this chapter the famous scene of the four friends bringing their paralyzed friend to Jesus. Carrying their friend on a mat, the four discover that there is no way to get close to Jesus. So, the four creative friends climb up to the roof of the house, dig through, and lower the paralyzed man down on his mat to Jesus.
In a fascinating moment, Jesus sees the faith of these folks, and announces that the sins of the paralyzed man on the mat are forgiven. This, of course, gets the attention of the Jewish teachers, which is where our text above picks up the story. The Jews wonder just who Jesus thinks he is, declaring a man’s sins forgiven.
Jesus, for his part, chooses to heal the man on the mat of his paralysis. Why? The Jews have determined that only God has the right to forgive sins. Jesus wants them to know that he is God, and thus can do things that only God can do. Healing a paralyzed man with a command is something only God can do. Forgiving sins is something only God can do. So Jesus heals the man with a command to show that he is God, can do things that only God can do, and thus can forgive sins too.
There are at least two things that we should learn from this event. First, you should recognize that Jesus is God. Jesus did the miracle for the purpose of showing you that he is God and has the right to forgive sins against God. If you want to be forgiven of your sins, you must come through Jesus. No one will ever be put in right relationship with God who does not come to God through Jesus (John 14:6).
How about this for a second point? Start thinking about why you are asking God to do the miracles that you pray for him to do. When you ask him to heal a sick person, save a soul, or grow your local church, think about why God might want to do this. Yes, God is loving and kind, but are there more reasons? Start thinking about the ways in which the working of God in each situation might result in God being glorified for the action. Start praying for things that do not merely make you comfortable or feel good, but pray for things that will redound to the praise and glory of God.
So often our church prayer meetings are full of simple requests that honestly will have no impact on how the world sees the glory of God. Praying that little Bobby’s broken arm will mend without complication will not do a great deal to help your neighbor see that God is glorious or that Jesus is the way. However, praying for God to bring souls to Christ, that will result in his praise. Think, Christians, about how what you pray for might actually show the world that God is amazing.