“Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise, take up your bed and walk’?”
In the days of his earthly ministry, our Lord made many stupendous claims about himself, his mission, and his relationship with God. In no uncertain terms, Jesus claimed not only to be God’s special representative on the earth, He was God’s ultimate self disclosure (John 14:7-9). He claimed to be greater than the prophet Jonah (Matthew 12:41), greater than king Solomon (Matthew 12:42), even greater than the temple in Jerusalem (Matthew 12:6). As as evidence for these radical claims, spectacular sign miracles attended the Lords’ ministry. On one occasion the Lord pronounced a crippled man forgiven of his sins (Mark 2:5). The religious leaders in attendance were horrified; according to the Bible, only God could legitimately forgive sin (Isaiah 43:25). In the Old Covenant dispensation, this involved the Temple program. Suddenly Jesus appeared, claiming that He could forgive sins on His own authority completely independent of the Temple. For the religious leaders of Christ’s day these were fighting words. “Which is easier?” asked Jesus, “to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise, take up your bed and walk’?” The answer is obvious; anyone can say that sins are forgiven. However, proving that one has the authority to legitimately do so is something else. In order to prove that He had the authority to forgive sins, Jesus commanded the paralytic, “Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house” (Mark 2:17). Suddenly the man received strength in his legs and he arose. Mark tells us that he “took up the bed, and went out in the presence of them all, so that all were amazed and glorified God” (Luke 2:12). The most spectacular miracle of all was Christ’s own resurrection from the dead. “Destroy this temple,” said Jesus to the antagonistic religious leaders, “and in three days I will raise it up” (John 2:19). John adds, “But he spake of the temple of his body.” (John 2:21). Our Lord gave evidence that things He said of Himself were true. If we are to walk as Jesus walked (1 John 2:6), then we are to give evidence that the things we say of ourselves are true also. It is easy to say we are Christians, it is something else to show this is the case. Christians are called to love the Lord with everything they have and to love their neighbors as themselves (Matthew 22:37-40). What this looks like is spelled out in 1 Corinthians 13:1-13. This is especially important when it comes to the household of faith. Our love for one another is the vindication of our claim to be Christians (John 13:35). May the Lord help us today, to have our actions match our claims, for His glory and the good of others.