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).
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ (Ephesians 1:3, NKJV)
Several important truths are found in today’s text, and they cause us to pause and praise God for His wisdom, love and mercy toward us in Christ. (1) The source of our blessings is God the Father. The One who blesses us with every spiritual blessing is God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Man does not bless himself with eternal blessings. The blessings we have in Christ are not given through the Roman Papacy, or a Watchtower Society, or a so-called Latter-day prophet. God the Father is to be praised as the Giver of all our blessings in Christ. (2) Jesus is the Lord and Christ, by whom our redemption is obtained (Eph. 1:7). God has gathered together everything that pertains to our redemption in our Lord Jesus Christ (Eph. 1:10). (3) The nature of our blessings are spiritual, not of this world. Prosperity theology (the “health and wealth gospel”) perverts the nature of the blessings obtained in Christ. (4) Our fellowship with Christ is “in the heavenly places.” The worldly-minded person does not perceive these great spiritual blessings; they elude his closed heart (1 Cor. 2:14). But, our redemption is very real, reaching into eternity. (5) All spiritual blessings are “in Christ.” Spiritual blessings will never be found in Buddha, Mohammed, human philosophy or reason, or any other source (Acts 4:12). Come to Jesus; He will save you.
If anyone thinks himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things which I write to you are the commandments of the Lord. (1 Corinthians 14:37, NKJV)
Jesus sent His apostles into all the world to preach His gospel to everyone (Mk. 16:15; Matt. 28:19). Before His death, Jesus told His apostles, “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who receives whomever I send receives Me; and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me” (Jno. 13:20). Later, Jesus appeared to Paul (Saul of Tarsus), appointed him to be an apostle, and sent him to preach the gospel, too (Acts 26:16-20). We rightly conclude that there is absolutely no way one can receive Jesus, yet reject His apostles. Truly, the first Christians were commended precisely because “they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine” (Acts 2:42). Instead of unsuccessfully trying to separate the teachings of Paul, Peter, John and the other apostles from Christ, cherish and hold fast all they spoke and wrote. By doing so, you are cherishing the Son and the Father (who sent Jesus to the world). To do less is not only a rejection of the apostles, but also of the Father and the Son. The spiritual acknowledge this. Indeed, one is not “spiritual” when he refuses to receive the apostles’ teachings as “the commandments of the Lord.” We need all of the New Testament. All of it is from God (2 Tim. 3:16-17).