Friday, January 28, 2011

Mark 2:8-12 (part 1)

8 And immediately Jesus recognizing in his spirit, that so they reasoned within themselves, he said to them, Why do you reason these things in your hearts?
9 What is easier to say to the paralytic? [3have been forgiven 4you 1The 2sins]; or to say, Arise, and lift your litter, and walk!
10 But that you should know that [5authority 4has 1the 2son 3of man] to forgive [2upon 3the 4earth 1sins], he says to the paralytic,
11 To you I say, Arise, and lift your litter, and go unto your house!
12 And he arose immediately, and having lifted the litter, he went forth before all; so that all were amazed, and glorified God, saying that, At no time we beheld thus.
(Mark 2:8-12 ABP)

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!”

(Mark 2:8-12 ESV)

Three things catch my eye in this passage:
  1. Jesus perceived their thoughts "in His spirit"
  2. Forgiving of sins vs. physical healing
  3. Jesus refers to Himself as "Son of Man"

Jesus perceived their thoughts "in His spirit"
First off, I tried to determine when this happened in the the time-line of the four combined Gospels, and true to Mark's recounting, this is early in Jesus' ministry.  There has not been ongoing dialogue/banter with the Pharisees and scribes (though we do know that they are well aware of His ministry - see John 4:1) that would lend itself to Jesus just knowing by pattern of behavior that they're already criticizing His every word and deed.  

Therefore, this has to be a divine act, the ability to read thoughts (even an instance of Jesus demonstrating omniscience).  Yet, is there any precedent to suggest that God can read thoughts?  Or that the Messiah would be able to do so?

I believe that the 11th chapter of Isaiah speaks to this in describing the Messiah:
1 There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse,
and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit. 

2 And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him,
the Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and might,
the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD. 

3 And his delight shall be in the fear of the LORD.
He shall not judge by what his eyes see,
or decide disputes by what his ears hear,
4 but with righteousness he shall judge the poor,
and decide with equity for the meek of the earth;
and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth,
and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked.
(Isaiah 11:1-4 ESV)

Also, all of scripture firmly ascribes this attribute to God:
  • 1 Chronicles 28:9 - "for the LORD searches all hearts and understands every plan and thought."
  • 1 Samuel 16:7 - "For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart."
  • Jeremiah 17:10 - “I the LORD search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.”
  • Romans 8:27 - "And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God."
  • Revelation 2:23 - "And all the churches will know that I am he who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you according to your works."

Daniel even tells us that only God has this ability in the 2nd chapter, verses 27 & 28:

Daniel answered before the king and said, "As for the mystery about which the king has inquired, neither wise men, conjurers, magicians nor diviners are able to declare it to the king.

"However, there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries, and He has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will take place in the latter days This was your dream and the visions in your mind while on your bed.

Forgiving of sins vs. physical healing
Two things here:  the obvious, and then the slightly less obvious (at least for me).  First off, it seems obvious that it's easier to say, "your sins are forgiven", versus effecting an instant healing, right?  This is not a concept that is foreign to anyone.  Which is easier, to say I'm going to climb a mountain, or to actually perform the feat?  Forgiving one's sins has no apparent physical effect - nothing we can see.  However, instantly healing a paralytic is undeniable.  It must also be noted that in this healing, as with all of them that Jesus performs, it is not a "schedule of treatment" - the change is immediate and complete.  This is significant because when the believer is

Secondly, I do not believe that it is a stretch at all to see the forgiveness of sins that Jesus refers to here as that which was ultimately accomplished and finished at the cross.  This suggests that while it seems that Jesus is proving His power to forgive sins here, by accomplishing what seems more difficult to us (the physical healing), in fact, demonstrated that the most difficult act was His sacrifice on the cross.  In the same respect that the New Testament refers to the saints as already glorified (Romans 8:30), insomuch that the sovereign effectual call by God to salvation is so sure that glorification of the believer is as good as done.

Jesus refers to Himself as "Son of Man"

This one has always tripped me up.  As a child, I was confused as to how Jesus claims that He is God's Son (John 10), but yet He refers to Himself so often as the Son of Man.  Now, a little more mature, both temporally and spiritually, I can understand that this is Jesus making reference to a Messianic passage in the Old Testament, specifically Daniel 7:13-14.  Ryrie says that He refers to Himself in this way more than 80 times (Grudem pin-points it at 84) in the four gospels.  Each time it is only Christ saying it, and only in reference to Himself.  But this doesn't wrap everything up in a nice, neat package for me.

I can appreciate that every contemporary of Jesus' would take notice to the reference to the "son of man" - especially that He was referring to Himself.  If you read Ezekiel, every time God speaks to the prophet, He calls him "son of man" - almost a hundred times or something.  So, I can read, and many commentaries point out that this is merely a title to delineate the creature from the Creator, denoting humility and a servile nature.  But then Daniel has a vision and he notes "one like a son of man":

    13 "I kept looking in the night visions,
         And behold, with the clouds of heaven
         One like a Son of Man was coming,
         And He came up to the Ancient of Days
         And was presented before Him.
    14 "And to Him was given dominion,
         Glory and a kingdom,
         That all the peoples, nations and men of every language
         Might serve Him
         His dominion is an everlasting dominion
         Which will not pass away;
         And His kingdom is one
         Which will not be destroyed.

There is so much that I want to look into here.  I'm going to do a "part two" for this post and in that second post I'll dig deeper into the "Son of Man" title and try to touch on the main points in there.