More Amazing than a Healing

Mark 2:8-12 – 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!”

What is amazing in what we just read? If you are not careful, you’ll miss it.

The story is familiar. Jesus was preaching from inside a house. Men carried a friend of theirs on a mat to Jesus hoping for a healing. The crowd was so thick that the men went up on the roof, opened a hole in the tiles, and lowered the man down before Jesus.

When the man was before Jesus, the Savior first pronounced the man’s sins forgiven. And that pronouncement was what set the religious teachers off. They were not going to complain if Jesus healed the man. What the teachers could not imagine is that Jesus would assume the right to forgive sins on God’s behalf. After all, the only person who can forgive sins against God is God.

Keep the conflict in mind in order to grasp the significance of the miracle. Jesus knew what the religious teachers were complaining about. And so Jesus heals the man to prove his identity and Bonafede’s. The rationale works like this. A declaration of forgiveness cannot be proven from earth, but a declaration of healing is verifiable. Both are things that require the power of God. If Jesus can do one, he can do the other. If Jesus can heal, he can forgive. If Jesus can forgive, Jesus is God.

The thing that is supposed to amaze us here is not the ability of Jesus to heal. We have seen that before and after in Mark. What is supposed to impress us is that Jesus can forgive. This is intended as a proof from Jesus to directly declare himself to be God in the flesh.

Here is what is amazing: Jesus is God and will forgive. The healing power proves it. Be amazed at who Jesus is. Be amazed that Jesus will forgive.

Friends, we are sinners. We have given enough offense to the infinitely holy God that we have earned for ourselves eternal punishment in hell. That God would forgive anyone at any time is utterly stunning. When we see that Jesus, God come to earth, is the door through which we enter for forgiveness, we must honor him. We must rejoice. We must run to Jesus and Jesus alone for forgiveness. And then we must worship, honor, thank, and live for Jesus. Our lives are for his glory.

A Miraculous Feeding and a Pointer to Jesus

In Luke 24, the risen Lord Jesus had a conversation with 2 disciples on a roadway. In that conversation, Jesus explained to the men how the whole of the Old Testament points toward him. Many Christians have said that it would have been so wonderful to have listened to that conversation. And I agree. I would love to have heard Jesus telling us how certain events in the Old Testament, even certain narratives, are actually hints about him and his glory.

I thought of this passage in my daily reading as I came across a short little story in the life of Elisha. In the early chapters of 2 Kings, we get to see how the Spirit of God is on Elisha just as the Spirit was on Elijah. And God repeatedly shows in chapter 4 his presence in the ministry of Elisha through the miraculous.

1 Kings 4:42-44 – 42 A man came from Baal-shalishah, bringing the man of God bread of the firstfruits, twenty loaves of barley and fresh ears of grain in his sack. And Elisha said, “Give to the men, that they may eat.” 43 But his servant said, “How can I set this before a hundred men?” So he repeated, “Give them to the men, that they may eat, for thus says the Lord, ‘They shall eat and have some left.’ ” 44 So he set it before them. And they ate and had some left, according to the word of the Lord.

Here we have a miracle. There is a fairly large crowd, and an amount of food that is too small for them. There are loaves of bread, but not enough to satisfy the men. But Elisha orders the food to be passed out. And when it happens, there is enough for every man to eat and be satisfied. And there is some left over.

That miracle, in 2 Kings, shows that the Lord is with Elisha. It shows that the miraculous power of God is on him. And it is one of those hidden gems in the Old Testament where, once we have seen Jesus, we will realize that he is greater than all who went before him.

Of course we know that Jesus did a miracle like this one, but on a much grander scale. Jesus fed a crowd of 5,000 men, not counting women and children. He did so with only 5 loaves and 2 small fish. And in doing so, Jesus showed himself to be great. That miracle from Jesus showed that he has the Spirit of God, like Elijah and Elisha, but far more. Of course, it also shows that Jesus is the God who provides bread in the wilderness just like God provided the manna during the exodus.

Altogether, the beauty I see here is the reminder that the Bible is telling God’s story. The Bible is all about Jesus. Even the miracles of the prophets, even the ones we tend to forget, point us to the presence and power of God. These miracles remind us of the greater glory of Jesus.