Jump Start # 2577
Mark 2:9 “Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven;’ or to say, ‘Arise, and take up your pallet and walk?’”
Our verse today asks a question. It was asked by Jesus. This question came after Jesus forgave the crippled man who was lowered through the roof. It was a packed house. The crowd wouldn’t make way for the four men carrying this crippled man on a pallet. They wanted Jesus to see their friend. They believed Jesus could do something. They believed that Jesus could heal their friend. They couldn’t get through the door, but that didn’t stop them. Up to the rooftop, they lowered their friend before Jesus. Persistent. Focused. Not giving up. Jesus simply calls this faith. Seeing their faith, the context tells us, Jesus forgave the man of his sins. That’s not what they actually came for. They wanted a healing of the body and Jesus healed the soul.
The crowd was shocked. No one can forgive but God. Yet, here is Jesus, forgiving. Did Jesus know this? Was He thinking that He was God? The minds of the audience was filled with what should be done. Had Jesus just blasphemed in front of them? The law was strict about blasphemy. The penalty wasn’t a slap on the wrist. Death usually followed blasphemy. No one was saying this, but they were sure thinking that way. And, Jesus knew their thoughts. That’s the first miracle in this story. Before He healed the crippled man, Jesus knew what others were thinking.
So our question, our verse follows. Which is easier to say, forgiven or get up and walk? Most times we don’t read this question carefully. We assume Jesus is saying, “Which is easier to do, forgive someone or heal someone?” And, we know forgiveness involved the cross, and the cross wasn’t pretty. It was torturous, painful and slow. So, in that way, healing someone would be much easier to do.
But did you notice, Jesus didn’t say, “which is easier to do?” If He did, the answer is heal. That is easier. But what Jesus actually said was, “which is easier to say.” Say, ’you are forgiven,’ or, say, ’you are healed?’ Saying and doing are not the same thing. We understand that. I could say, “I can drive a golf ball 400 yards.” You’d say, “Right. We’ll go to a driving range and you prove that.” I could say, “I have photographic memory.” You’d respond, “Sure, prove it. I’ll give you a page to read, then you quote it back perfectly.” I could say, “I can hold my breath until you could to 400.” You’d say, “Let me see.” By, the way, I can’t do any of those things. I moved to a church where the former preacher had photographic memory. He’d read five books a day and in the middle of a sermon, he could quote long sections, refer to the exact page number. It was impressive. When I first moved there, one of the elders told me nearly every day about this former preacher who had photographic memory. Everyday I heard that. One day, when the elder was going on and on about that, and I had about enough of it, I stated that I, too, had photographic memory. He looked at me and said, “You do?” I said, “Certainly. It’s just at the moment, I’m out of film.”
Saying and doing—not the same thing. Which is easier to say, forgiven or get up and walk. Well, if you say, “get up and walk,” the crowd is going to expect that crippled man to “get up and walk.” Prove it. But if you say, ’you are forgiven,’ how do you prove that? How do you show that? How does the audience know? It is easier to say you are forgiven, because there is no way of knowing. A forgiven person doesn’t change color. They do not suddenly do miraculous feats. They look the same. They may even act the same. Forgiveness is a relationship we have with God. And, these Jews were correct, only God can forgive. Jesus is God. He had that right to do that. You can prove if a crippled man can walk. Let me see you walk. That’s all it takes. But to prove forgiveness, there really isn’t a way to do that. So, which is easier “to say?” Forgiveness is easier to say. It’s not easier to do, but it is simply easier to say.
Now, this leads us to a practical question about ourselves. Many wonder about this. How do I know that I am forgiven? I can do what the Bible says, but how do I know? I feel the same. I look the same. My likes and dislikes haven’t changed. My bank account doesn’t change. I don’t immediately go from being a shy person to being outgoing. I don’t suddenly have new talents. I don’t have a superior knowledge all of a sudden.
This thought bothers many. They just don’t “feel” saved. Some have gone so far as to think that God will never forgive them. These thoughts, fears and worries are the reason some drop out and give up. “I’m just not forgiven,” is what they say. Some look back and believe, “I never was forgiven.” These are troubling thoughts. It’s hard when forgiveness seems to lack any evidence or proof.
Are you forgiven? How do you know? How would you answer that?
Here are a few thoughts that I hope will help:
First, we know we are forgiven by faith. Just as we know anything by faith, we know this. God has promised forgiveness for those who love Him, follow Him, obey Him and trust Him. When Peter told that Pentecost crowd to repent and be baptized for the remission of sins, how would they know their sins were truly forgiven? Faith. God promised. It’s not a feeling. It’s not a sign. It’s not taking up a pallet and walking.
How do we know Jesus is coming again? Faith and the Scriptures. How do we know there is a Heaven? Faith and Scriptures. How do we know we are forgiven? Faith and Scriptures. It’s the same thing.
Second, there is a change that takes place. It is in how God sees us. It is in how we see God. Relationship. There is no signed papers. There is no official stamp indicating these things. God says as far as the east is from the west, He has removed our sins. They have gone from crimson to white. We are washed. We are justified. We are saved. There is an emotional side to it. The Ethiopian went on his way rejoicing after he learned about Jesus and was baptized. The facts led to faith which produced the proper feeling. He did what he was told to do. He did what God wanted him to do. Intellect comes first. The facts come first. Then comes the feelings and the emotions. Get those reversed and a person gets into trouble. He may feel saved when he is not. How would he know? Read the Bible. If one hasn’t done what God said, he may have false feelings. He didn’t put the facts first. He didn’t have the intellect first.
A person can know that they are walking by faith. A person can know they are walking in the light. John told his readers that when they read what he wrote, they would know that they have eternal life (1 John 5:13). A person can, as Paul said, “know whom I have believed.”
Can you know you are saved? Certainly. Which is easier to say? A great question. A thought that showed Jesus was God on earth.