God’s Word for You
Mark 2:5-7 The Son of Man heals
by Pastor Timothy Smith on Saturday, October 2, 2021
8 Jesus immediately knew in his spirit that they were thinking this way within themselves.
No one else has all of the attributes of God except God alone. Jesus has the attributes of God just as he has the attributes of man (Hebrews 2:14-18), and therefore Jesus is truly God. Like God the Father, Jesus is eternal: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). Jesus is also omniscient, knowing all things. “Lord, you know all things” (John 21:17). He is omnipotent, able even to raise the dead (Mark 5:41; John 11:38-44). He is the radiance of God’s glory (Hebrews 1:3). Also, the Bible calls him God with divine names such as God (Romans 9:5) and Lord (John 20:28).
Here we see the divine attribute of omniscience, knowing all things, which Jesus sometimes used and sometimes set aside from use during his ministry. No one knows the thoughts of a person except God. “God knows your hearts” (Luke 16:15). “The Lord knows the thoughts of a man” (Psalm 94:11). “You alone know the hearts of all men” (1 Kings 8:39). Jesus demonstrated his knowledge by answering what they were only thinking.
He asked them, “Why are you thinking these things in your hearts? 9 Which is easier: to tell the paralyzed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your stretcher, and walk’? 10 But, so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the paralyzed man, 11 “I tell you, get up, take your stretcher, and go home.”
When we listen to these questions from Jesus, we already know the outcome. We might not even think about it too much. We might think, casually, that it’s easier to “say” something like “your sins are forgiven” than to tell a paralyzed man to walk. But Jesus was not just talking about “saying” something without any meaning behind it. His question was this:
Which one is easier, or even possible?
1, To forgive this man’s sins (to forgive so that God himself
will dismiss them and forget them),
2, To heal this man of his paralysis, so that he will, right this
moment, get up and walk.
To these scribes, experts in the Law of Moses, this was an impossible question. They couldn’t imagine anyone healing a paralytic, and they didn’t recognize anyone’s authority to forgive sins. They were the ones who were paralyzed. They had rejected Jesus as God’s servant and as God’s Son.
In verse 10, Jesus uses a title for himself that’s new to this Gospel: “Son of Man.” This title occurs thirteen times in Mark, always with the same phrasing in Greek, which includes the definite article before “son” and again before “man,” thus: ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου (ho huios tou anthropou). According to Professor David Kuske’s “The Practice of New Testament Exegesis” (Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary Press, 1992), when the article is used with each noun in a series (as it is with “the Son of [the] man” here), it “distinguishes each noun in the series from the others” (p. 10). This means that the two articles are both important, but not necessarily emphasizing the same thing (“The Greek article is not used when it has no meaning,” Robertson’s Short Grammar of the Greek New Testament, p. 275). The first article takes the unit “the Son” and shows us that this is the definite, unique, and certain “Son” who is unlike any other Son. This is the Son who is the promised descendant, the most famous and expected Son, so that he can be called The Son. He is the offspring of Eve who would be harmed by the devil while destroying the devil’s power, as God said to the serpent: “He will crush your head and you will strike his heel” (Genesis 3:15). The second unit, “of (the) man,” emphasizes the human race as a class. In this case, it is the human nature of Christ that is emphasized. Luther says: “Christ wants to indicate that he is true God and true man. He wants to include his human nature, which he assumed from Mary as other children do from their mothers. He wants to say: ‘I am also a human son, a truly natural child and a living person, not a mask, a vision, or a ghost’” (LW 23:162-163).
Before Jesus took on human flesh into his deity at his conception, he was God’s Son from eternity. He said: “Before Abraham was born, I am!” (John 8:58). He is eternal and infinite. Scripture says: “Your throne was established long ago; you are from all eternity” (Psalm 93:1), and again, “He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made” (John 1:2-3).
Having taken on human flesh, Christ will not set it aside, and he will not set us aside. He ascended in the flesh, and he will return in the flesh (Acts 1:11). His two natures, God and man, fit together in the one person. The divine attributes are shared with the human nature, so that whatever we wish to say about Christ’s human nature we can say about his divine nature, and whatever we wish to say about his divine nature we can say about his human nature. Jesus is truly God. God died on the cross. Jesus is in heaven today. God wept for his friend Lazarus. And so on. Most importantly, God can and does forgive sins, so when Jesus says, “Your sins are forgiven,” they are forgiven. And God has power over life and death, as well as to punish or to heal. So when Jesus says, “Get up, take your stretcher, and go home,” that is also what is going to happen.
12 At once the man got up, picked up the stretcher, and went out in front of everyone. So they were all amazed and glorified God. They said, “We have never seen anything like this!”
I am a clumsy man, and in my youth I was clumsier still. If something could be knocked over or spilled, I knocked it over or spilled it. So forgive me if I see a little comedy in this passage where a young man who has not had much practice walking, let alone walking through a crowd in a crowded room, suddenly needs to navigate with a bulky stretcher which undoubtedly was too big for the door. I make the point because this young man, filled with faith in Jesus and healed so compassionately by the Son of God, did not just slip quietly out of the house in such a way that nobody noticed. Not that he knocked a cuckoo clock off the wall, or punched a hole in the lath and plaster, or hit three of the apostles in the head as he tried to get the stretcher out, but he certainly made a memorable exit, just as he had made a memorable entrance. Perhaps the first thing he did was to join his friends in repairing the roof that they had damaged. He had come to be healed, but he had been forgiven as well. He trusted in the Son of God, and he learned that the Son of God is also the Son of Man. Had the Scribes believed, they would have been forgiven, too, but when a person rejects Christ, and does not acknowledge his need for forgiveness, then not even the words of Christ will do him any good. To summarize a chart that Luther once drew (LW 35:22): “To whoever believes, everything is helpful and nothing is harmful. But to whoever does not believe, nothing is helpful and everything is harmful.” So we thrill with David (Psalm 30:2): “O Lord my God, I called to you for help, and you healed me.” And of course, God hears our prayers and listens to our thoughts, whether we speak them out loud or not.
Pastor Timothy Smith