Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, “Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” Mark 2, verses 6 and 7.
Get ready to get mad. You’re a hypocrite just like the Pharisees in these verses. You judge people just like they did. You blaspheme God just like they did. In this world of sin, you’re one of the worst. You may think you’re doing your best, and that you’ve come a long way baby, but deep down inside you’re just a hypocrite like the ‘sinless sinners’ who judged the Son of Man.
Mad yet? Please, relax; I’m right there with you. I’m the worst of sinners, too. The truth is, though, I don’t want for us to be hypocrites any longer but we’re works in progress. I’m ‘judgy.’ I’m mean. I’m callous, cold, indifferent, moody, angry, vulgar, sinful and altogether damned left to my own devices. And all this is while I’m in church. Imagine how bad it could be outside! How about you? Yep: we’re in a bad way.
That’s because we indeed are no better than the Pharisees, who set themselves up as expert witness, judge, and jury over the ancient people of Israel. Like snarky Congressmen, Ivy League professors, or reporters from the New York Times, they knew better than the people around them; you could ask them and they’d tell you. After all, they kept ‘all’ of Moses’ commandments; they worked hard. They prayed harder. They didn’t do things like other people. They were upright, pious, well-dressed, moral, paragons of First Century Jewish virtue.
And yet, despite all that, their sin was inside and they were filthy dead with it. Notice that Mark says “sitting there, thinking to themselves.” They weren’t ‘doing’ anything wrong, only thinking, and it was still damning. They were educated and knew that the Scriptures told them how only God could forgive sins. They couldn’t believe their eyes, however, that God Immanuel was actually there, at the table with them, in the same room. The Pharisees were so busy looking for the long-promised Redeemer that they couldn’t see how He had found them. That blindness also blinded them to their own sins, their own shortcomings, their own judgmental failures.
Just like us.
Tell me: how many times do we remember that Jesus is with us now? How many times does Jesus speak to us in a day? Does your conscience ever tell you something that you ignore? Or do you see someone who needs help yet you keep walking? Ever lost your temper? These sins – and more – are mine; I’m betting they’re yours as well. Yet Jesus still meets us where we are, in our sins, in our thoughts, and He loves us anyway. We are the paralyzed man who can’t walk, who Jesus heals and forgives. We are the judgmental Pharisees, who refuse to believe the proof right in front of our eyes. We are the hypocrites, sinners, and low down dirty dogs who practice evil with even our best intentions. And then, despite all this, we also are given the opportunity to be Jesus, to look at others who wrong us and forgive them, to demonstrate mercy where none is deserved. To follow Him.
I’m sorry if I made you mad earlier; please forgive me that. I do hope it got your attention, though. Read up on the rest of the story to find out how Jesus responded.
Lord, I have sinned against You. Forgive me, cleanse me, and love me.
Read Mark 2, verses 6-12.