Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, “Why are you thinking these things? Which is easier: to say to this paralyzed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’? But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the man, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!” Mark 2, verses 8-12.
If you’re new to learning about Jesus, there’s something you need to know: Jesus isn’t a wuss. He isn’t lightweight or namby-pamby. He isn’t all the meek and mild, comfy, cozy, I’ve-got-a-crush-on-you Savior that we, who live in suburban America, make Him out to be. He is love; that is true. But love can rock your world, and despite our milquetoast interpretations, Jesus came to the world to rock it for the people who met Him. Like you and me. Like the people of His time here.
Jesus isn’t a wuss. He doesn’t play games and He doesn’t do anything half-way. Here, at the beginning of Mark’s gospel, he has met a paralyzed man, read the mind of a judgmental Pharisee, and is now proving to them that He is God. If you put yourself in the place of the folks there, in that room, this would be extraordinary, perhaps the most extraordinary thing you have ever seen in your life. You have waited through that entire life for God to redeem His promise to His people, to deliver them from their oppression and here is this man from Nazareth proving He might just be that deliverer.
But more than that. He’s taking it to a new level, something they never expected. Jesus is doing a throw-down and saying He is God Himself. He is saying that all the Law, all the Prophets, all the history, and all the miracles that have been the story of Israel are summed up in Him. Nobody, not even the most hopeful or audacious of leaders, could do that kind of throw-down. They don’t have the guts or the story. Jesus didn’t just say it: He proved it. Jesus isn’t a wuss. He has guts and a backbone of steel.
There are other things to say about these verses, and we’ll talk about them tomorrow. For now, I think it’s more important to simply recognize the fact that our Lord and Savior is down for the struggle because He initiated the struggle. Love is the toughest stuff around; if you don’t believe that, then obviously you’ve never really loved. Jesus is pure love, and sometimes that means He does indeed impart the romantic, touchy, feely, and all warm in the heart feeling. Yet those satisfying and wonderful feelings are always backed up by the toughest backbone of anyone in the universe. They were all throughout the Bible, and if you look in our own world, they are here as well. Don’t believe me? Talk to someone whose life He has changed. Talk with me.
Jesus, lead me and remake me. Be courageous for, in, and through me. Don’t go half-way in my life, either.
Read Mark 2, verses 13-14.