1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. (John 1:1–3, NKJV)
John’s prologue begins with the same phrase used by Moses in Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning.” This is not coincidental. The apostle focuses attention on the divine nature of the Word by introducing the timelessness of the Word who “became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). God is eternal. The Word is eternal. Thus, “the Word was with God and was God” in the beginning. There has never been a moment when the Word was not divine. God exists outside of time, space and matter. The Word, who is God, created all these “in the beginning.” No wonder Scripture says, “By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth…For He spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast” (Psalm 33:6, 9; see “God said” in Genesis 1). The Word was at work creating all things in the beginning. John boldly and unequivocally identifies Jesus Christ as our Creator. Jesus is eternal God who took upon Himself flesh (John 1:14). In Him alone, deity and humanity are miraculously joined. Jesus is God, the Word who brought “grace and truth” to the world (John 1:17, 34). This fundamental truth is central to faith and life in the Son (1 John 5:11-13).
17 And He, bearing His cross, went out to a place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha, 18 where they crucified Him, and two others with Him, one on either side, and Jesus in the center. 19 Now Pilate wrote a title and put it on the cross. And the writing was: JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS. (John 19:17–19, NKJV)
Calvary is the Latinized form of the Place of a Skull, the skull-like hill where Jesus was crucified (Luke 23:33). With criminals hanging on either side, Jesus was nailed to a cross until dead. Crucifixion was execution by torture, a most horrid, gruesome event. (The word excruciating derives from the Latin excruciatus, “from, or out of the cross.”) Nails driven through the hands and feet would damage nerves and send fiery bolts of pain through his limbs. Already severely weakened from being scourged, every breath became increasingly labored and shallow. The weight of his body prevented normal breathing, while every movement caused more shots of agony to course through his body. Soon, dehydration became another factor leading to death. Sometimes legs were broken, quickening death, but in Jesus’ case (John 19:32-33). Finally, exhausted and racked with agony, the body releases its last breath and death comes mercifully (John 19:30). Jesus endured crucifixion so we can be saved. Our sin deserves the eternal agony of hell (Romans 6:23). Jesus died so we can live. No one ever cared for you like Jesus (John 15:13; Romans 5:8; 1 John 3:1). Do you care for him?
1 And He entered the synagogue again, and a man was there who had a withered hand. 2 So they watched Him closely, whether He would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse Him. (Mark 3:1–2, NKJV)
Why do you look at Jesus? Mark tells us why the Pharisees and Herodians watched Jesus: to accuse Him (see Mark 3:6). They did not see in Jesus a teacher of good news, who showed heaven’s mercy by miraculously healing the afflicted, and who brought news of salvation from sin (Mark 3:3-5; 1:14-15). They did not see the Son of God. No, they saw a man who did not honor their Sabbath traditions (Mark 2:23-28). This, they could not abide. So, they watched Jesus closely, so they could bring charges against Him as a Sabbath-breaker and an evil man. Again, we ask, why do you look at Jesus? Do you look to Jesus as your Lord, who has authority over your words and deeds? Do you look at Jesus with humble submission, and do His will? Or, do you look at Jesus to find fault, or to rationalize away your sins? Why we look at Jesus is crucial in determining what we see when we look at Him. The Pharisees and Herodians saw a Sabbath-breaker. His apostles saw the “Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16). Who do you see?
29 “My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. 30 I and My Father are one.” (John 10:29–30, NKJV)
Jesus claimed the same power as the Father when He claimed to give eternal life and to protect His sheep from danger (John 10:28-29). This mutual, protective power illustrated His unity with the Father. “To snatch them out his hand is the same as snatching them out of the Father’s hand” (Lenski, 759, emp. his). So, that for which Christ’s enemies pressed, they now receive (John 10:24). Jesus uttered a clear and decisive statement of His divine nature by affirming, “I and the Father are one.” His works proceeded from the Father, and testified of His unity with the Father’s nature, purposes and power (John 10:32; cf. 8:42). To claim the same power as the Father, was to claim oneness with the Father (John 10:29-30). The Jews immediately viewed such a claim as blasphemous, and prepared to stone Jesus (John 10:31). They did not misunderstand what Jesus said; They simply refused to believe Him. They knew Jesus was declaring to be deity, and they wanted to kill Him over it (John 10:33). The question is, do you believe Jesus is God? His works give ample reasons to believe He is “the Son of God” (John 10:36-38).
16 And when the scribes and Pharisees saw Him eating with the tax collectors and sinners, they said to His disciples, “How is it that He eats and drinks with tax collectors and sinners?” 17 When Jesus heard it, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” (Mark 2:16–17, NKJV)
We hear people telling us we should accept and befriend those who live in immorality, because after all, “Jesus ate with sinners.” Yes, He did. But, the question that needs to answered is, “Why did Jesus eat with sinners?” Was it to condone, tolerate, and even commend them in their sins? Today’s verse explains why He ate with them. If people would accept His explanation, they would stop claiming Jesus was tolerant of sinful diversity. The people Jesus ate with were sin sick. Eating with them was the Great Physician’s opportunity to call them to repentance and salvation. He was not “accepting them as they were.” Jesus was not opening the door to immorality without repentance and conversion. Without a doubt, Jesus loves sinners. He showed that love by teaching them God’s truth about sin and God’s mercy. He called them to repentance. He did not comfort them in their sin. When we teach a sinner the truth about his sin, and call him to repent and be saved, we are loving him the way Jesus loved sinners. That’s why Jesus ate with sinners. Is that why you eat with sinners?
9 “Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise, take up your bed and walk’? 10 But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins”—He said to the paralytic, 11 “I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.” 12 Immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went out in the presence of them all, so that all were amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!” (Mark 2:9–12, NKJV)
Jesus had just told the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven” (Mk. 2:5). After that, the miraculous healing of the man was evidence that Jesus “has power on earth to forgive sins” (v. 10). This teaches us one of the prevailing reasons for the miracles of Jesus. They were convincing proof that Jesus is the Savior of mankind. His name means “Savior” (“for He will save His people from their sins,” Matt. 1:21). He is Immanuel (“God with us,” Matt. 1:23). He is the “Son of Man,” because He rises above every other man, as the one man in whom dwells the fullness of the Godhead, bodily (Col. 2:9). The visible miracles He worked show His power to do an even greater, invisible work – the forgiveness of sins. An inspired record has been left of some of His miracles, so “that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name” (Jno. 20:31).
2 Then behold, they brought to Him a paralytic lying on a bed. When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you.” 3 And at once some of the scribes said within themselves, “This Man blasphemes!” 4 But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts? 5 For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise and walk’? 6 But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins”—then He said to the paralytic, “Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.” 7 And he arose and departed to his house. (Matthew 9:2–7, NKJV)
The “miracles, wonders and signs” of Jesus were not random and whimsical. There were clear purposes to His mighty works. By healing this paralyzed man, Jesus supplied proof that He indeed has the right and power to do an even greater work, the work of forgiving sins. When Jesus saw the faith of those who lowered this man through the roof to reach Him, He forgave the man his sins (Mark 2:3-4). When the scribes charged Jesus with blasphemy, so Jesus proved He has authority to forgive sins by healing the man. Therefore, one of the clear purposes of the miracles of Jesus was to prove that He is the “Son of Man” (the Messiah), who forgives sins (Mk. 2:10). A record of some of His signs have been provided “that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name” (Jno. 20:30-31).